By Sam Roberts
The New York Times, September 6, 2018
Stan Brock died on Aug. 29 at RAM’s offices in Rockford, Tenn., where he had lived ascetically since he founded the nonprofit outfit in 1985. He was 82.
(The Remote Area Medical clinic service, or RAM) began operating initially in British Guiana and then expanded to the United States in 1992, starting out with a single pickup truck that hauled a single dentist’s chair. It opened its first American clinic in Sneedville, Tenn., in 1992 and still runs an airborne ambulance operation in what is now the independent nation of Guyana.
The organization estimates that it has provided medical, vision and dental care to more than 700,000 patients since its founding, in areas ranging from Appalachia to New York City, and in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Last year, about 1,400 health professionals volunteered to treat 2,300 people who showed up at one of RAM’s outdoor clinics at the fairgrounds in the western Virginia town of Wise. Some had camped out for three days to make sure they would be treated.
“The health fair reminded me of scenes I’ve witnessed in refugee camps in South Sudan,” Nicholas Kristof wrote in his Op-Ed column in The New York Times. “But here in America?”
“I’m just the voice of the homeless and the underserved,” he said. “But unless they fix these basic things, we’re going to be doing this long after my lifetime.”
Asked in an interview about his legacy, Mr. Brock said, “I hope that a hundred years from now, nobody will remember me at all because this will be a thing of the past.”
“But,” he added, “there seems to be no end in sight.”
By Don McCanne, M.D.
For those who want to see that all of us receive the health care that we should have, each of us approaches the deficiencies in our own way. Stan Brock’s high-profile efforts were quite unique. Besides serving people in need, he continued to provide us with an unambiguous visual image of how great the unmet need is.
When he recognized that the need was not only in poor countries but also right here in the United States, he began holding these Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinics in this country. At the time he began, the nation was ready for comprehensive health care reform which many thought that we would have under the Clinton administration. When that effort failed, people were still ready. Eventually the Affordable Care Act was enacted, but it was not the comprehensive reform that we needed. A quarter of a century after Brock began, people are still camping out at the RAM clinics in hopes of receiving just a modicum of care, here in America!
When asked about his legacy, Mr. Brock said, “I hope that a hundred years from now, nobody will remember me at all because this will be a thing of the past. But there seems to be no end in sight.”
No end in sight… here in America? We have to change that ASAP.
And thanks, Mr. Brock, for pointing that out.
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