Remote Area Medical, 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 and put a reminder in her phone. 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.

According to RAM Digital Media Specialist Haley Harbin, due to COVID-19 RAM limited the number dental patients per day. Some who sought dental care were unable to be seen because of these limitations.

Cristina was one of these patients. She decided to receive vision care instead. When she arrived at the Des Moines Church at 3 am on the first day of the event, there were already many cars in the parking lot. “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 over 160 volunteers to assist in organizing the event and providing care to patients. Among these volunteers were several local church members who helped in many areas 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, and a small team prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner on both clinic days to feed volunteers.

Another volunteer was Bob Carr, president for Des Moines Metro Adventist Radio. Carr was the main person responsible for recruiting and organizing RAM at the local level. “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,” said Carr.