Remote Area Medical volunteers travel the globe restoring sight, mending bodies and providing hope in the form of health care. But now, this Knoxville-based medical relief team is finding they're needed in the United States as much as they are abroad.
"The need is here. It is horrendous. The need is now," said Dr. Mehrad Makani, a volunteer dentist.
The volunteer doctors are overwhelmed by the numbers of people pouring into the Los Angeles Forum, where they're staging a massive medical clinic. The people here are so desperate for help they're willing to wait hours and, in some cases, days to be seen by a doctor.
Gary Moore was recently laid off. He has no insurance.
"I'm looking to get dental, vision, medical, anything I can get done," said Moore.
Such is the case across the country. It's spurring the current debate over the cost and delivery of health care in this country.
RAM founder Stan Brock said there are lessons to be learned from their clinics.
"What it will turn out to be in terms of money per patient, I don't know at this point. We will have treated thousands of people here at a cost nobody else can match in the country, " said Brock.
RAM doctors volunteer their time, and some of the supplies are donated. Brock said it's critical that the many sides of the health care debate find a common ground for the sake of the people.
"That is really going to be the test, to see whether these folks can come together with an agreement. Let's see if we can take care of the 49 million people who come to events like this, " said Brock.
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