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Free medical clinic at Forum reached full capacity for second day

August 12, 2009 | 12:06 pm


The free medical clinic at the Forum in Inglewood reached capacity again Wednesday, as hundreds camped out overnight to receive medical and dental care.

The organization also continues to put out the call for volunteers, including oral surgeons, dental and optical technicians.

Volunteers are asked to bring a valid medical or dental license, but all supplies are provided. Nonmedical volunteers are also need, according to the organization’s Twitter feed, including those who simply stand in line as placeholders for patients waiting for multiple services.

More than 2,000 sought services on the first day of the medical clinic -- and hundreds were turned away. People were lined up Tuesday night, hoping to get in. The MTA announced it was extending service of Line 115 because of "overwhelming demand" for rides to the clinic, which runs for eight days.

On Tuesday, procedures included 95 tooth extractions, 22 oral surgeries, 470 fillings, prescriptions for 140 eyeglasses, 45 mammograms, 43 HIV tests and 96 Pap smears.

The Remote Area Medical Foundation is a trailer-equipped service that has staged health clinics in rural parts of the United States, Mexico and South America. It brought its health camp to urban Los Angeles County on Tuesday to begin a stint that the group's officials described as its first foray into a major urban setting.

Organizers expected big crowds in a county with high unemployment and an estimated 22% of working-age adults lacking health insurance.

On Tuesday, the turnout was so large that hundreds had to be turned away.

"We're shorthanded," said the mobile clinic's founder, Stan Brock. About 100 dentists were needed, but only about 30 showed up Tuesday. Twenty eye doctors were required, but only about five were on hand, Brock said.

The mobile clinic, based in Knoxville, Tenn., has staged 576 medical clinics over the last 25 years. They have treated nearly 380,000 patients and provided care valued at $36.9 million, said Executive Director Karen Wilson. The group raises money through contributions.

Doctors, nurses and other medical workers who donated their time said most visitors' ailments were basic. But "many have chronic diseases -- high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma -- conditions we can't deal with in just one day," said Dr. Nancy Greep of Santa Monica. Some had problems, such as a recurring cancer, that demand long-term treatment.

--Kimi Yoshino

Photo: Dr. Kenneth Gould examines patient Aaron Rivero, 26, in an old locker room Tuesday during the Remote Area Medical clinic at the Forum in Inglewood. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times