While BW San Francisco staffer Sandy Malloy enjoys great healthcare benefits, she decided to take action on behalf of those who don’t by volunteering for Remote Area Medical (RAM), a Knoxville, TN-based organization that bills itself as “Pioneers of No-Cost Health Care” and provides medical, dental and vision care services all over the world. Hundreds of people spent the night in a baseball stadium parking lot in Oakland, California, seeking medical care and Malloy checked them in starting at 5:30 AM recently.
“I was sleepy from having gotten up so early but it was such a minor hardship compared to all these people who’d arrived the night before, many bundled in blankets that they wore right into the Coliseum.” –Sandy Malloy
An array of volunteer doctors, nurses, dentists, hygienists, optometrists and assorted medical specialists and technicians set up the clinic in the Oakland Coliseum area usually reserved for parties. General
volunteers like Malloy checked in patients, often in Spanish. The 700 patients seen that day ranged in age from four to 60-plus. Some had been out of work for a long time, some were recently laid off, and others were employed with no benefits. They left the Coliseum with prescription eyeglasses (made right there, and ready in a few hours) in hand, long-infected teeth extracted, and high blood pressure diagnosed and medications dispensed.
“One of my favorite moments was seeing a family I’d checked in very early that morning leave with glasses for everyone, including the youngest girl, all smiling and thanking us,” Malloy recalls.
As she was making an afternoon pitstop before heading home, Malloy noticed a woman in the ladies’ room. “Putting yourself back together?” she asked. The woman gave her a virtually toothless grin and exclaimed, “Now I can get my bridge!!”
The remark provoked a wide smile from Malloy. “It was a very, very good day,” she says.