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Free Healthcare Event Serves Thousands and Makes History

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Remember when Remote Area Medical (RAM) -- a Tennessee-based nonprofit organization that traditionally provided free healthcare to poorer countries around the world -- delivered 14,000 free healthcare services to over 6,400 people over eight days, in Los Angeles last year?

Well they're back in Los Angeles this week, and making history. Today marks the first day of a seven day free healthcare event, the largest event of its kind, and the 601st Remote Area Medical free clinic. Two days ago, over 5,000 people lined up outside the LA Sports Arena, camped out overnight, to secure their place for wristbands for healthcare appointments. Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 28th, the the last 1,200 wristbands will be distributed to those desiring healthcare, dental, and vision checkups.

RAM's own description of its services this week state: "[We] will bring medical, dental and vision care to thousands of individuals and families who desperately need it, absolutely free. No proof of insurance, no income test, no requirement of any kind, except to attend." This generosity and openness contrasts nicely with last week's passage of SB1070 in Arizona, which promotes racial profiling and deportation consequences for those who may look like immigrants.

Services provided this week are impressively sophisticated, including specialized vision screens, mammograms, on-site laboratory testing and results, electronic patient records, physician generalist and specialist care, acupuncture, and a process for referrals and follow-up with LA area community clinics. More than 300 volunteer clinicians are set to see patients from 6am to 6pm each day and several thousand other volunteers are making the free clinic run.

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For more information on the Remote Area Medical Free Clinic in Los Angeles this week, check out their website and their twitter account.

We'll leave you with this video segment by comedian Dana Gould (of the Bill Maher Show), cleverly juxtaposing the hopefulness of the patients waiting hours for free care at the last RAM LA free clinic, with town hall protestors protesting Obama's healthcare reform plan. It's as poignant today as it was then: