Thousands receive medical care at four-day clinic event

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News

imageToday was the first day of a four-day health clinic in The Los Angeles Sports Arena that’s expected to bring in five-thousand uninsured and underinsured patients seeking basic health care.

With two million uninsured residents living in Los Angeles County, the demand for free health care is high. Thousands waited in line Monday to receive wristbands to secure a spot at today’s massive clinic.

Robert Carvajal came with a toothache that’s been bothering him for months.

“I’m here to have a tooth extracted because I’m in a lot of pain every day,” Carvajal said. “It looks like the doctor’s pretty good. He’s being very patient and very caring. Hopefully it’s going to be a good job.”

Robert hasn’t received any dental care since he was in prison, over a decade ago. He says that without today’s event, he’d have had no way of dealing this. After the extraction, he planned to have both his knee and wrist examined.

The massive clinic is organized by CareNow, an Los Angeles-based nonprofit group. Eight-hundred medical professionals volunteer their services and manufacturers donate medical supplies and equipment.

Dental care is the number one request at CareNow’s clinics, followed by vision care.

Seven-year-old Imani Gilliam came to the clinic with her mom and little brother because she’s had trouble seeing the board in her classroom.

“I think it’s great because you can learn…and see better,” Imani said.

For the first time this year, the event also includes follow-up care. Patients who need to follow-up or have a condition that can’t be treated on the floor will schedule an appointment with a clinic in the area.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas held a news conference with CareNow officials, praising the effort to address the health care crisis in Los Angeles and throughout the nation. Ridley-Thomas shared that he saw people he went to high school with at nearby Manual Arts High School standing in line to receive dental care.

Ridley-Thomas had a message for opponents of federal healthcare coverage.

Stand in these lines and tell the people who are here seeking care that you wish to deny them the opportunity to feel better and reach their full potential,” Ridley-Thomas said.

A full range of medical services were available today. Aside from dental and vision services, there are women’s health professionals, physicians providing private consultations for a range of health issues, chiropractors, STD testing, even acupuncture therapists.

The CareNow clinic will run through Sunday, seeing twelve-hundred patients each day.

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