Case study: Medical group brings free annual care to rural U.S.

In some hard-to-reach parts of rural America, patients may have no access to medical care at all. However, non-profit group Remote Area Medical hopes to give such consumers at least a once-a-year shot and medical and dental care, bringing a huge influx of doctors, nurses, dentists and assistants to inaccessible places like the southwest Virginia town of Wise.

Knoxville, TN-based Remote Area Medical runs about 15 clinics like this across the world each year, including in rural Appalachia, Guyana and East Africa. In the U.S., the group often serves patients who need services not covered by Medicaid (such as, in Virginia, routine and preventive dental care). They also supply care to those who can't find doctors willing to take Medicaid.

This year, Remote Area Medical brought 1,800 clinical staffers and helpers to Wise, setting up a gigantic field hospital that saw about 2,500 patients over two and a half days. During that time, the medical team extracted 3,857 decayed teeth, conducted 156 mammograms, performed hundreds of heart disease and diabetes screenings and gave out 1,003 pairs of eyeglasses. Despite the volume of work done, the clinic had to turn hundreds away each day.

To learn more about this program:
- read this Newsweek article

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USDA offers $128M for rural telemedicine