Hundreds Wait Overnight At Oakland Coliseum For Free Medical Services

OAKLAND (KCBS) – Hundreds of uninsured, and under-insured lined up overnight outside the Coliseum in Oakland Wednesday for the chance to see a doctor or dentist, and get a free eye exam and maybe even a pair of glasses.

The free clinic was put on by RAM California, an affiliate of Remote Area Medical Foundation, which provides free health care, dental care, veterinary and eye care to people in remote areas of the United States and the world.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Like most, 70-year-old Ethel Baldezarre came for dental work. “I need my teeth cleaned,” she said, and a partial filling for a broken tooth. “And that costs money. I can’t afford that.”

PHOTOS: Medical Services At Coliseum

She was among the first of about 3,000 patients Dr. Russell Webb, the chief oral surgeon, expects will sit in the 100 chairs he is supervising over the next four days for a cleaning, or more likely, to have a tooth pulled.

“Much of what we will do are extractions,” he said, because so many of the people who come have gone so long without care.

The free roving clinic relies on volunteers like Webb to bring health care to underserved areas.

“This is kind of like a MASH unit,” he said, referring to a mobile Army medical facility.

“You’re here and you look up and there’s 50 people waiting in line, and you’re working away. And an hour later, you look up and there’s another 50 in line.”

Webb said the dental clinic saw a record 850 patients in one day during RAM’s first visit to Northern California in 2011. The international non-profit has been partnering with local hosts on free clinics since 1985.

The Oakland clinic that runs through Sunday will be followed by another four-day clinic March 30 through April 2 at the Cal Expo in Sacramento.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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