Special to the Daily News
HARROGATE, Tenn. — Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) and Remote Area Medical (RAM) joined together over the weekend to hold the second annual RAM Health Expedition at LMU. The expedition — RAM’s 500th such effort — provided free medical, dental, and optical care to almost 700 individuals in just two days.
During the expedition, 687 patients received a range of free medical, dental and optical care. These patients accounted for a total of 1,061 patient contacts, as patients were able to receive services in all three clinic areas if they so desired. These 1,061 patient contacts equaled $108,625.00 in free medical services rendered. Of the 687 patients served by the RAM clinic, 434 live in the immediate tri-state region of Claiborne County, Tenn., Bell County, Ky., and Lee County, Va.
“It is wonderful to think of the lives that may have been changed based on this one single event,” LMU President Dr. Nancy B. Moody said. “I am thankful to all of the hundreds of volunteers who donated their time and talents to make this expedition possible.”
RAM provides a wide range of free basic health, dental and optical services to the people of southwest Virginia, eastern Kentucky and northeast Tennessee. The Knoxville-based organization also provides services outside the United States. On average, the group conducts one exhibition per month in various communities throughout the Southeast, as well as overseas.
The dental area was the busiest area of the expedition at LMU, seeing 10 children and 329 adults during the weekend. The volunteer dentists administered 36 dental cleanings, 119 dental fillings, and 411 dental extractions. The value of the dental services rendered is estimated at $42,140.00. The dental volunteers were so plentiful that there were more dentists available than there were dental chairs. Local dentist Dr. Charles Tompkins graciously opened his private office, located across the street from LMU, to which dental patients were transported by van.
In the optical area, the expedition saw 311 patients and provided glasses to 304 individuals, including 13 children. The majority of the glasses were made on-site in an optical truck provided by RAM. The remaining lenses will be provided free of charge by LensCrafters and Cole Vision in Knoxville. The optical area enjoyed the volunteer efforts not only of several optometrists, but also a number of optometry students who drove more than 300 miles from the University of Alabama School of Optometry to volunteer at the expedition. The value of the optical services rendered is estimated at $45,950.00.
The general medical area was staffed by local private physicians as well as members of the clinical medicine faculty at LMU’s new DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. Doctors saw 390 patients — 100 more than last year — who received $20,535.00 in services. Among the services rendered were medical specialist exams, osteopathic manipulations, diabetes screenings and education, cholesterol screenings, pulmonary function testing, pap smears, breast exams, mammograms and medication assistance. Thompson’s Cancer Survival Center completed 21 mammograms and chest x-rays and lung function testing was conducted in a mobile unit provided by Dr. Joseph F. Smiddy, a Kingsport pulmonologist and member of the LMU board of trustees.
At the Phillips Veterinary Technology Center, 131 dogs and 145 cats were spayed or neutered at the veterinary clinic. Volunteers worked jobs ranging from surgery assistance to waking the animals following the procedures.
Three hundred forty-one volunteers traveled from across the United States to work at the expedition. Local doctors from Harrogate, Tazewell, New Tazewell, Kingsport and Knoxville, Tenn., Middlesboro, Ky., and Big Stone Gap, Va., also donated their services. Lay volunteers included community members and LMU students, faculty and staff, including members of the nursing, med tech, vet tech and social work departments, as well as LMU-DCOM and the J. Frank White Academy. The Tennessee State Guard, the Lions Club of Campbell County, Mountain Empire Community College, and Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief all joined in the volunteer effort as well.
The expedition kicked off Friday night with a special celebration outside Tex Turner Arena to mark RAM’s 500th expedition. In addition to remarks from LMU’s Vice President for University Advancement Cindy Whitt and RAM founder Stan Brock, those in attendance enjoyed a special performance by Reedy Creek Band, whose members include Dr. Joseph C. Smiddy on banjo, Dr. Joseph F. Smiddy on guitar, and Liz Smiddy on bass. Dr. Joseph C. Smiddy and Dr. Joseph F. Smiddy are one of three father-son pairs on the LMU board of trustees, and Dr. Joseph F. Smiddy was instrumental in bringing about the partnership between RAM and LMU.
The RAM event at LMU is an annual event, with the next expedition currently scheduled for the weekend of May 31 — June 1, 2008.
(The line outside the Tex Turner Arena on the Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) campus numbered more than 400 people when the doors opened for the second annual Remote Area Medical Health Expedition. The line began forming at 3 p.m. on Friday. Everyone in line when the doors opened Saturday morning received services during Saturday’s clinic. (Submitted photo)