Cold night for folks waiting for RAM clinic

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The freezing cold isn't stopping folks from lining up to get free medical care this weekend.

People are already lining up outside Chilhowee Park in Knoxville for the Remote Area Medical Clinic.

Even though the doors don't open until 6:00 am on Saturday, cars started arriving as early as noon on Friday.

The early birds are sitting through a very cold night, but the future patients say the bad weather is worth the wait.

The dental trays are laid out, and the set-up is finished inside the Jacob Building.

Organizers are expecting more than 1,000 people to pass through the doors Saturday and Sunday.

"50 dental chairs, set up 12 lanes of vision. We're going to do free dental care this weekend, fillings, cleanings and extractions," said Ron Brewer, the director of RAM.

People can not only get their teeth checked, but also vision tests and a new pair of glasses. Not to mention diabetes and mammogram screenings, among many other medical services.

"I don't know what I would've done without this clinic helping us. Especially with dental, you can't get free dental like that," said Denise Singh, who got in line early this afternoon.

"Very thankful. Very thankful. If it wasn't for these people, I don't know what the poor in this country would do," said Donald Tucker, who drove in from Rogersville.

The heat was running inside most cars before dark descended, and some folks came prepared for the long, cold wait.

"We just brought our memory foam mattress, brought a bunch of pillows, and a few sleeping bags to stay warm. Definitely wanna stay warm," said Singh.

"Extra coats, blankets, you do what you gotta do to stay warm. Coffee, you have to do what you have to do," said Tucker.

They're willing to do what it takes to make it until the gates open right at midnight.

Then at 3:30 am, guards will go to the cars and start handing out numbers on a first come, first serve basis. At 6:00 am, the first patients will walk in.

There was concern about the rain that flooded the parking lot this week, but organizers say that won't interfere with clinic operations.

If you can't make it on Saturday, the RAM clinic will also open at 6:00 am on Sunday.

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