Campus Community Health • HEERF I, II & III

Rural Reimagined Success Story

Rural Reimagined Congratulates RAM Clinic on Another Successful Year

RAM student volunteersIn 2022, the RAM clinic successfully served the Upper Cumberland communities another year. “Always see one more patient,” is the inspiring motto of RAM clinic. The RAM clinic (Remote Area Medical Clinic) is a major nonprofit organization, based out of Rockford, Tennessee, that operates pop-up medical clinics across the nation. Their free-of cost clinics deliver dental, vision, and medical services to underserved and uninsured individuals, providing relief and security to countless communities. RAM’s mission is to "to prevent pain and alleviate suffering by providing free, quality healthcare to those in need." 

On the 19th and 20th of March 2022, the RAM clinic served the Upper Cumberland region at Cookeville High School. In the short two days the clinic was open, there was over $318,000 worth of donated medical, dental, and vision services provided to 454 patients. Such a feat would not have been possible without the generous medical providers, volunteers, and sponsors. According to Mrs. Janet Coonce, chemistry instructor and faculty volunteer, the clinic hosted volunteer oral surgeons, dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, ophthalmologists, optometrists, technicians, physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to administer medical services. Tech students hosted over 500 general volunteers and volunteer medical professionals who came from all over the United States. The University of Buffalo in New York, Ohio State University, Duke University, Emory University, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Cumberland University, Marymount University, University of Louisville, Freed-Hardeman University, Meharry Medical School, and many more were represented at the clinic.

 General volunteers assisted with organization, set up, tear down, parking, and filled in any gaps to help the clinic run smoothly and efficiently. Tech had over 50 volunteers from numerous clubs and organizations on campus. For example, Tech Nutrition students prepared volunteer meals, Nursing students worked alongside the medical professionals, and Tech’s ChemMed club sponsored the community host group and supported general volunteering needs. In response to the clinic’s success and the volunteers' contributions, Mrs. Coonce states, “We have a lot to be proud of in how these students represented TN Tech. Individual students volunteered 30+ hours the past 3 days, not to mention all their participation in the year-long preparation that is involved with this event. The Tech students at the clinic were all amazing.” An additional special thanks is owed to the student-led host group team for the 2022 clinic. S. McCall Price was the clinic Lead, Brayden Hammer led Recruitment, Jack Wiggins oversaw parking and signage, J. Cole Murray was responsible for the fundraising, and Emma Gunnells charged Public Relations.

Mrs. Coonce specifically acknowledged one student volunteer: “I was especially impressed with Alex Stovall's work. He has been chosen to be next year's clinic lead.” 

Alex Stovall oversaw the hospitality team this year. His role included reaching out to those in the community willing to donate food to feed the volunteers. He says, “We had about 75 volunteers to feed on Friday, March 18th, 250 on Saturday, March 19th, and 175 on Sunday, March 20th. It would not have been possible without my team.”  

Alex shared how the RAM clinic is an extremely valuable event for our community, “The RAM Clinic is especially important to low-income families. With Medicare not covering dental insurance, it is exceedingly difficult for them to afford expensive procedures, and the clinic fills in that gap for many people.” Beyond the medical relief RAM provides, there is also an emotional and spiritual purpose to the clinic, according to Stovall. 

To illustrate the profound emotional impact of the RAM clinic, Stovall shared an inspiring encounter he witnessed between an anonymous host group member and two individuals involved in the clinic clean-up crew. A host group member thanked the individuals for their contribution to the clinic. The conversation continued to reveal one of the individual’s medical issues, in particular, his vision impairment. As a result of the conversation, the individual was treated and seen for glasses. Alex Stovall passionately states "The most amazing thing was not only that the man was receiving restoration of his sight, but there was an additional, obvious restoration of his identity. He was filled with joy, and you could see him smiling and laughing. This is exactly why the clinic is so important. It is not just to help people physically but also mentally and spiritually.” While the RAM clinic has the primary purpose to meet people’s physical needs, it simultaneously meets people’s emotional needs as they experience genuine support and care from the volunteers. 

For this reason, Stovall encourages others to volunteer in next year’s clinic, especially his fellow students. He says, “The clinic is not just something that we do for a resume. As an incoming first-year student, I did not fully understand this until I completed my first clinic and fell in love with helping others.” He continues to address his peers, “I understand when you take classes as an undergraduate aspiring to work in the medical field, it is hard to keep the focus of why you are in school. The clinic reminds you of why you want to be a healthcare provider -- to serve those in need.”

Thank you to everyone who actively performed the motto “always serve one more patient” and followed their desire to serve others at this year’s clinic. The RAM leaders and volunteers are excited to see you all again next year. 

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