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Tech students help clinic save community health care costs

Tech student free clinic workersVolunteers from Tennessee Tech University helped the Remote Area Medical Clinic see 454 patients and provide over $318,000 worth of donated medical, dental, and vision services on March 19-20 at the Cookeville High School.  

“The clinic was a huge success, and our Tennessee Tech students were incredible,” Janet Coonce, chemistry instructor and faculty volunteer, said. 

Tech had over 50 student volunteers representing various clubs and organizations on campus. Tech Nutrition students helped to prepare three of the seven volunteer meals and pre-nursing and nursing students worked at the clinic.  

“The Tennessee Tech ChemMED club sponsors the community host group meetings, but all are welcome to serve in both leadership and general volunteer roles,” Coonce said. 

The Upper Cumberland Community Host Group is the only student-run host group associated with RAM according to McCall Price, a senior biochemistry and microbiology major, who serves as lead of the host group.

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 according to Coonce.

free clinic worker masked upVolunteers for the clinic included oral surgeons, dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, ophthalmologists, optometrists, technicians, physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, healthcare professionals.  General volunteers assisted with organization, set up, tear down, parking and aided where required.   

This year's clinic focused more on the quality of the provided care over the quantity of patients served, and not as many patients were seen as previous years due to new safety and sanitation protocols. 

“The logistics of a post-COVID clinic set-up limited the number of patients the clinic served, but the new protocols increased the safety and comfort levels of everyone,” Coonce said. 

RAM is a major nonprofit organization which has its headquarters in Rockford, Tennessee.  It operates pop-up clinics delivering free dental, vision and medical services to underserved and uninsured individuals. Its mission is to "to prevent pain and alleviate suffering by providing free, quality healthcare to those in need."

“I'm so proud of how well the Tennessee Tech students worked together to host this year's clinic. Everyone knew their jobs, and everyone did their jobs with excellence. The students learned from both the successes and the struggles of prior clinics, and this year's clinic was the smoothest-running RAM clinic we've ever hosted at Cookeville High School,” Coonce said. 

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Picture # 1 - 2022 Host Group Leaders:  Alexander Coker (Hospitality), Brayden Hammer (Recruitment), Alex Stovall (Hospitality Lead), Emma Gunnells (PR), S. McCall Price (Lead), J. Cole Murray (Fundraising), and Dominick Coker (Assistant Hospitality)  Not in photo:  Jack Wiggins (Parking and Signage)

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