Remote Area Medical working to improve health care gap across the world

Started in 1985 to provide free medical care to those in communities lacking services
Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 8:10 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Just south of Knoxville is the headquarters of Remote Are Medical.

Started in 1985 on the back of the headquarters is Stan Brock.

“Stan gave everything to ram. He lived here in the building, he slept on a grass mat in the back, and he’d come by my office every morning about 10 o’clock on his way to the front office and say, Hey, Chief, what’s going on? Stan inspiring in all of us, the mission to provide free health care. He set us on this path and supported us. And the last years when Stan was with us, he focused on big, big projects that he’d been wanting to do for years, and turn over the reins, as far as you call it, the nuts and bolts of delivering the clinics,” said Jeff Eastman, CEO of Remote Area Medical.

Brock started RAM after injuring himself in the remote areas of Ghana and being told he was 26 days from medical care.

“Stan was always an innovator. I mean, he never nothing ever stood in his way some of the projects that he had back, so we go to the warehouse, I’ll come across some, I call them artifacts, there’ll be a bicycle on a stand with a vacuum pump, that Stan had designs to go to the jungles in somebody who would sit there and pedal the bicycle and create a vacuum so they could do dental work. It’s just various assorted devices and ideas and concepts. I mean, he would, I was fortunate to him to go to Central America, South America twice. And people remember him even from back in the days when he ran the ranch. But he was always an innovator. He always would say, let’s do this. He would never say how we can do he would just say let’s do this, and leave it up to us to figure it out,” said Eastman.

Brock died in 2018, but his mission and the company he created continues.

“And we miss him greatly. We think about him all the time. He always said never forget the mission,” said Eastman.

RAM sets out and provides free medical care to people who live in areas where medical care is scarce, unaffordable, or hard to reach.

“The need in the Delta in Appalachia is pretty reflective of the whole country. Our volunteers are everything if you look back at Stan it was remote area medical volunteer corps. Volunteers are the bedrock of what this organization is built on. It’s the bedrock that makes it happen,” said Eastman.

From general health to dental and vision, RAM travels with groups of volunteers to wherever the call is made.

“What I like sometimes is I’ll have a RAM vehicle here in Knoxville and drive around and pull up to a red light and the car next to you will give you two thumbs up and it’s like hey we’re doing the right thing, or when you’re traveling. It’s amazing I was down in south Georgia last week with my wife and I had a RAM vest on in a store down there and a guy was like ‘hey I know RAM!’ and it’s like we’ve never been to this little bit of south Georgia but they know us. It warms the heart that everybody knows that RAM is there to give a hand. We ask no ID, no questions, the only question you have to answer is where does it hurt and we’ll do our best to go from there,” said Eastman.

Since its founding in 1985, more than 175,000 people have volunteered with RAM.

Operating as a 501C3 not-for-profit, RAM operates on donations.

For one single dollar, RAM is able to provide three dollars worth of medical care.

“Now you absolutely could take $100 down to your local medical provider and say ‘hey I want to make a difference with one of your patients’ and they’d get $100 worth of care. Or, you can donate $100 to RAM and we can deliver $300 worth of care. So that to me is the important part. We can take that one dollar and stretch it to three and make a huge difference in people’s lives,” said Eastman.

In 2020 RAM provided more than $18 million in care, despite shutting down operations for 90-days because of the COVID 19 pandemic.

“We pivoted and as we designed new systems and new processes so we could get back out there,” said Eastman.

In 2021, RAM has more than 20 clinics scheduled through October.

From Virginia to Kentucky, to Tennessee RAM will load up 18-wheelers, travel to some of the hardest to reach communities in the United States, and help people who need it most.

“RAM will be there today, we were there yesterday, and we will be there tomorrow... filling that game and making a difference in those individuals who need free quality health care to alleviate pain and prevent suffering,” added Eastman.

If you would like to donate to RAM or earn more about its mission click here.

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