Rural Health Clinic Provides Free Care To Thousands

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    Traffic backs up at 5:30 a.m., about a mile from the Wise County Fairgrounds, before the opening of the tenth Remote Area Medical Expedition in Wise, Va.
    Photos by Becky Lettenberger/NPR
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    A crowd gathers at the entrance to the fairground. Each person is given a number as he arrives, and is allowed in on a first-come, first-served basis. Approximately 2,700 people made the trip to RAM.
    Photos by Becky Lettenberger/NPR
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    Most patients are uninsured or underinsured and RAM is the only medical care they will receive this year.
    Photos by Becky Lettenberger/NPR
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    Roughly a thousand volunteers provide logistical help, including recording patient's basic medical information.
    Photos by Becky Lettenberger/NPR
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    Loretta Miller winces in pain. She arrived a day before the start of the clinic in order to ensure a low number and a guarantee of care.
    Photos by Becky Lettenberger/NPR
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    Karen Krauss performs a dental X-ray on Miller. The results are available almost immediately.
    Photos by Becky Lettenberger/NPR
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    Dr. Buddy Counts reviews Miller's X-ray and concludes she will need three fillings and an extraction.
    Photos by Becky Lettenberger/NPR
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    Hundreds of doctors, assistants, and volunteers tend to the steady flow of patients.
    Photos by Becky Lettenberger/NPR
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    Dr. Darryl Pearlman provides Miller's three fillings. In addition, Pearlman orders a root canal to save a badly decaying tooth.
    Photos by Becky Lettenberger/NPR
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    After recieving a root canal from a different dentist, Miller returns to Dr. Pearlman to build back part of her tooth and extract an abscessed molar.
    Photos by Becky Lettenberger/NPR
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    Pearlman extracts a tooth with ease, delighting Miller. Volunteer dentists pulled close to 4,000 teeth over the course of the weekend.
    Photos by Becky Lettenberger/NPR
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    This is Loretta Miller's eighth year attending the clinic. After waiting two days for dental surgeries, she spent another night sleeping in her minivan to have her teeth cleaned.
    Photos by Becky Lettenberger/NPR

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