Free medical clinic to return to Los Angeles area in April

A large-scale free mobile medical clinic that treated more than 6,300 uninsured and underinsured people last summer is scheduled to return to the Los Angeles area in April, volunteers and lawmakers said Wednesday.

Remote Area Medical, or RAM, a Tennessee-based nonprofit group, plans to hold a clinic at the Los Angeles Sports Arena near USC from April 27 to May 3.

At a news conference at the site Wednesday, lawmakers emphasized the continued need for healthcare services despite the passage of historic health reform in Washington, D.C., this week.

"The bill is just a beginning. Implementation will take place over four years," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. "We will continue to need events like RAM/LA to fill in the gaps and provide services to our uninsured throughout the county."

Last August, the group's eight-day clinic at the Forum in Inglewood attracted 3,827 volunteers, including dentists, doctors and other healthcare workers who provided more than $2.8 million in services -- the largest and most urban event in the organization’s 25-year history.

Still, organizers were able to serve just 700 patients a day instead of the 1,600 they had hoped to because of too few volunteers, said group founder Stan Brock. At the Sports Arena, they are trying to enlist enough dentists, doctors and food donors to treat and feed 1,200 patients a day.

"When you turn away as many thousands of people as we did, and I was unfortunately the person who had to go out and give them the bad news, you want to go back and say, 'Let's try it again,' " Brock said in an interview with The Times.

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