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Volunteers needed as RAM’s free clinic returns to Pahrump

Medical care is key to a healthy life but for many people, the associated costs make receiving care a strain, often leading them to put it off for long periods of time. In rural parts of the world, this situation is exacerbated by a lack of health care providers and services.

That is why in 1985 Stan Brock founded Remote Area Medical, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free dental, vision and general medical services to underserved and uninsured individuals. Though Brock has since passed away, his legacy continues to have a profound impact around the globe, with free medical pop-up clinics offering over $181 million worth of services to more than 888,000 people.

Thousands of those care recipients reside here in Pahrump and the surrounding areas. For the past six years, Remote Area Medical, better known as RAM, has been making a trip to the valley and its clinics have become a much-anticipated part of the town’s yearly calendar. Anyone interested in taking advantage of the no-cost services that will be available during the 7th Annual Pahrump RAM Clinic will want to mark the date because the event is scheduled to take place Saturday, Oct. 1 and Sunday, Oct. 2 at the Pathways Innovative Education Building.

RAM’s medical services, particularly those for dental care, are always highly sought-after and with the new protocols made necessary by COVID-19 in the last two years, event volunteers have faced the unfortunate reality of having had to turn some people away. Pahrump RAM Committee member Ryan Muccio said this is the very last thing they want to do so recruiting health care providers is crucial, but so is ensuring the process moves as quickly as possible. To this end, RAM officials have tweaked the clinic and Muccio is hopeful that the changes will lead to more patients served.

“The biggest thing right now that we want people to know is, while we are still going to have strict COVID precautions, we’re doing things a little differently to make sure we can see as many people as possible,” Muccio detailed. “For example, previously we would have to wait 20 minutes for each of the dental procedure tents to be sanitized after they’ve been used. This year, we only need to wait three minutes. That makes a huge difference.

“In addition to that, I want people to feel confident in the dental services as well. In past years, it’s been a bit of a struggle to get enough dental professionals to support the demand,” Muccio continued. “But we are already really strong in our dental providers this year, even where we stand right now in July. We will have UNLV’s dental school back again and they will be increasing their students from 12 to 15 per day. And then we already have four other vendors signed up, so we are really doing well in dental this year.”

Of course, any and all medical professionals would be more than welcome to join in the effort, Muccio noted, emphasizing that these clinics are only possible because of the donation of time and expertise by those in the health care industry. At the moment, he said the clinic could particularly use more vision professionals to support the cause.

But it’s not only medical professionals that are needed. Pretty much anyone can help make a difference by volunteering at the clinic.

“The other big part of it is the general support volunteers. That is actually a tremendous help to the clinic. When we don’t have enough general support volunteers, we’ll have to pull medical professionals away to do things that those other volunteers could be doing, like sterilizing equipment,” Muccio explained. “And that role can vary so much, you can volunteer to work in the food service area, you can help with janitorial services, maintenance services. You can be placed in any of the dental, medical or vision areas and they will train you to do what they need you to do.

“And this is also a unique learning opportunity for those who may be looking for their career path or rediscover another career, because you get placed into one of these areas and are learning these skills, which there are jobs for in our community. It kind of opens people’s eyes to different areas of work,” he added.

The 7th Annual Pahrump RAM Clinic is set for October 1 and 2. Volunteers can sign up at www.RAMUSA.org

Anyone with questions should contact the NyE Communities Coalition at 775-727-9970.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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