Rural Medical Camp Tackles Health Care Gaps

Bet­ty Lettenberger/NPR

Link gakked from AppyLove, sto­ry from NPR.

Think about this sto­ry for a moment. Or two. We need new, bet­ter, options for health care, and we need them yes­ter­day. And that's prob­a­bly as polit­i­cal a post as I'll ever con­scious­ly make.

It was a Third World scene with an Amer­i­can set­ting. Hun­dreds of tired and des­per­ate peo­ple crowd­ed around an aid work­er with a bull­horn, strain­ing to hear the instruc­tions and wor­ried they might be left out.

Some had arrived at the Wise Coun­ty Fair­grounds in Wise, Va., two days before. They slept in cars, tents and the beds of pick­up trucks, hop­ing to be among the first in line when the gate opened Fri­day before dawn. They drove in from 16 states, anx­ious to relieve pain, diag­nose aches and see and hear bet­ter.

"I came here because of health care — being able to get things that we can't afford to have ordi­nar­i­ly," explained 52-year-old Otis Reece of Gate City, Va., as he wait­ed in a wheel­chair beside his red F‑150 pick­up. "Being on a fixed income, this is a fan­tas­tic sit­u­a­tion to have things done we ordi­nar­i­ly would put off."

For the past 10 years, dur­ing late week­ends in July, the fair­grounds in Wise have been trans­formed into a mobile and makeshift field hos­pi­tal pro­vid­ing free care for those in need. San­i­tized horse stalls become draped exam­i­na­tion rooms. A poul­try barn is fixed with optom­e­try equip­ment. And a vast, open-air pavil­ion is crammed with dozens of portable den­tal chairs and lamps.

A con­vert­ed 18-wheel­er with a mobile X‑ray room makes chest X‑rays pos­si­ble. Tech­ni­cians grind hun­dreds of lens­es for new eye­glass­es in two mas­sive trail­ers. At a con­ces­sion stand, den­tures are mold­ed and sculpted.


This entry was posted in Appalachia, health care, rural medical camps. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Rural Medical Camp Tackles Health Care Gaps

  1. Rusty says:

    I had a post about that some time back, but I'm not as up on that issue as I am on some oth­ers. I know sev­er­al Appalachi­an writ­ers who are doing great things and try­ing hard to make a dif­fer­ence in that vein: Silas House being the first one that comes to mind. I know there are others.

  2. JulieGengo says:

    You're wel­come Rusty. I'm sor­ry you are so acci­dent prone. I bump into things often acci­den­tal­ly of course. Maybe you will con­sid­er being polit­i­cal one more time as Moun­tain Top Removal has been dev­as­tat­ing to the Appalachi­ans and its peo­ple. I have found some some writ­ers who write about this. I can pass then along if you like.

  3. Rusty says:

    I for­got to say thanks for stop­ping by, Julie. 🙂

  4. Rusty says:

    My dad worked an ass­load of over­time to make sure we all had health cov­er­age. And I was,and remain, acci­dent-prone. I'd have shit­ty knees, a fucked-up right hand, and lit­tle sight in my left eye with­out that cov­er­age when I was a kid. And that's just the acci­dents I remember.

  5. JulieGengo says:

    It's okay to be a lit­tle polit­i­cal every once and a while. I'm sure there were some bril­liant writ­ters who were tak­ing advan­tage of this ser­vice. Many times the best sto­ries come out of the sad­dest situations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.