Remote Area Medical (RAM) in collaboration with Des Moines area Seventh-day Adventist churches, hosted a free health clinic at the Des Moines Church on June 26-27.
The clinic provided medical, dental and vision care as well as COVID-19 vaccines. In total the clinic served 148 individuals, some of whom received two services. There were 88 medical patients, 51 dental patients and 83 vision patients.
Jessie, a dental patient, learned about RAM two years ago when she was searching for a free dental clinic online. She saw the Des Moines RAM clinic on the online schedule. Jessie put a reminder in her phone and forgot about the clinic. Two years later Jessie’s phone reminded her of the clinic, and she knew she still wanted to attend.
Jessie arrived at the Des Moines Church at 5:30 pm on June 25. She stayed overnight in the parking lot and was one of the first patients to be seen.
“It was a pleasant experience,” Jessie said. “Everyone here has been really nice.”
Another dental patient, Robert, read about the clinic in the newspaper. Robert couldn’t afford the dental work he was seeking and said he was happy to receive these services for free.
“This clinic will really help the community,” Robert said.
According to RAM Digital Media Specialist Haley Harbin, due to COVID-19 RAM limited the number of dental patients per day. Many who sought dental care were unable to receive it because of these limitations.
Cristina was one of these patients. She decided to receive vision care instead.
Cristina learned about the clinic through family members who attend the Des Moines Spanish Church.
She arrived at the Des Moines Church at 3 am the night before the first day of the event and said there were already many cars in the parking lot.
While Cristina was unable to get dental care, she said she “looks forward to seeing again.”
“I think it is great [RAM is] offering free services, because healthcare is expensive,” Cristina said.
To help patients like Jessie, Robert and Cristina, RAM relied on volunteers to assist in organizing the event and providing care to patients. There were over 163 volunteers at this event.
Among these volunteers were several local church members. These individuals helped in many areas of the clinic including, preparing food for volunteers, assisting patients with eye care and dental care, interpreting and triage.
Darlene Rhodes, a member of the Des Moines Church, helped in the kitchen where she and a small team prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner on both clinic days to feed volunteers.
Rhodes said she volunteered at the RAM event to help people in the local community.
“There’s a lot of people from the community churches here influencing the lives of other people,” Rhodes said.
Justin Goldsmith, a member of the Des Moines Church, used his 24 years of kitchen experience from a nursing home kitchen and hospital cafeteria to help with food preparation.
“I feel prepared to help today,” Goldsmith said.
Justin’s wife, Stacie Goldsmith, also volunteered at the event as a triage nurse. Stacie Goldsmith said she volunteered because she wanted people to feel heard.
“[I] just want to help people without health care options,” Stacie Goldsmith said. “It is a good community outreach.”
In addition to providing health care services, volunteers at the event gave out free literature and over $1,000 worth of food.
Diane Moon, a member of the Knoxville Church, volunteered at the literature table where she handed out books and Glow Tracts about health and hope. The literature table was in a tent that many patients passed while returning to their cars after receiving health care.
Moon hoped the table would allow her to meet new people and invite them to church. She also hoped the literature would help patients’ spiritual lives.
“A lot of the time you need a healthy mind to accept spiritual things,” Moon said.
Another volunteer was Bob Carr, President for the Des Moines Metro Adventist Radio. Carr was the event’s Community Host Group Lead, the main person responsible for recruiting and organizing RAM at a local level.
Carr previously attended a RAM clinic in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, after learning about it online. Inspired by what he experienced, Carr wanted to bring a clinic to the Des Moines area.
“I saw the people and how they really appreciated the help,” Carr said. “It’s hard to find free stuff. Everyone wants to make a dollar. That is not what this is about, it’s about helping people and providing people with a service they need.”
Carr proposed the idea of hosting a RAM clinic in the Des Moines area to the KPOG radio board, which consisted of members from different area Adventist churches. The board thought it was a good idea and decided to help sponsor the event.
“I hope this event shows Des Moines that the area churches care for the people,” Carr said.