Dateline October 23, 2017.
Dutch coverage of Remote Area Medical of Virginia in Grundy. Remarkable photography by Victoria Sarno Jordan. Text by Maartje Somers. Our translation is below with restricted photo reposts. See the original post for all at https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2017/10/23/twaalf-uur-in-de-rij-voor-een-gratis-tandcontrole-13631898-a1578293#photo=LTE3NzI. See the original The Guardian (UK) Sarno photo essay this post is based on at https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2017/oct/10/virginia-remote-area-medical-mobile-clinic-in-pictures
PHOTO VICTORIA SARNO JORDAN / AFP PHOTO
TITLE: “They are not insured and stand in the queue for free care for twelve hours”
Initially, auxiliary organization RAM focused on poor countries like Haiti or Guatemala. In the meanwhile, it mainly helps Americans without health insurance.
23 OCTOBER 2017
Not only do they come from the wide area of Grundy, a village of a thousand inhabitants in Virginia, known as “America’s sickest place”. They also come from neighboring states. Kentucky. Tennessee. The mobile clinics of Remote Area Medical of Virginia offer free eye and dental care. Free advice on diabetes, relief from opiate addiction and relief for the lung diseases that so many people suffer from in these coal mining areas. Waiting a whole night is not a problem.
“Often cars are in the parking lot when we arrive the night before,” says Vicki Weiss, eye doctor and one of the volunteers of RAM Virginia. From three o’clock in the morning, sequence numbers will be issued, early in the morning the treatments will begin. People must choose between an eye check or a dental check. “Most people choose a dentist. For some, it’s been years since they saw one, “says Weiss.
Mobile clinics in remote areas – it sounds almost like doctors without borders in Africa. Originally, Remote Area Medical was intended for countries with low-skilled healthcare, such as Haiti or Guatemala. But now RAM works mainly in the US. In villages like Grundy, where these photos were taken, in the heart of Virginia’s silent coal industry.
Strictly speaking, Grundy is not ‘distant’: for example, it’s just six hours drive to Richmond, the elegant capital of Virginia, which also has a good hospital. The distance between Richmond and Grundy residents is socio-economic. “We treat the people who fall through the meshes in the American care system,” says Weiss. “They are uninsured, cannot pay for care, and can or do not want to meet requirements for a regular doctor.”
28 million Americans remain uninsured. Before Obamacare came into operation, it was 44 million. The number of uninsured people now rises through the chaos in Washington around the care. Almost one-third of Americans are covered by government insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid, but they do not provide or do not provide for dental and eye care.
2/3 ARE OVERWEIGHT
And then there are other problems. A healthy lifestyle is far away in many parts of the Appalachians. In Virginia, 65 percent of adults are overweight, almost half have heart or vascular problems. Information and prevention are usually lacking and are poor. “Some people we see,” said Weiss, “do not even know they have a chronic illness”.
And then there are the opiates. Last year, the addiction epidemic claimed 800 lives in the state. In RAM, volunteers have been trained in dealing with Narcan for two years, the drug that can neutralize the effects of overdose.
At the presidential elections in 2016, Grundy chose Donald Trump, the man who wants to revitalize the coal industry, who recently launched a presidential decree to break down Obamacare without a replacement care system.
As a volunteer of a relief organization, Doctor Weiss wants to be above the parties, she says. “But radical improvements in the US care system are needed. We have great medical care in the US. But far too few people have access. The meshes in the grid are far too wide.”
A STRIPPED HEALTHCARE SYSTEM
*44* Million Americans did not have health insurance before the previous government-Obama introduced a new health insurance scheme.
*28* Million citizens remained uninsured after the introduction of ‘Obamacare’.
*3* Attempts made by Republicans this year in the Senate to abolish Obamacare. In vain.