Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Hundreds lining up for free healthcare checks at Inglewood Forum [UPDATED]

August 11, 2009 |  7:37 am
Hundreds of people were already lining up to receive free healthcare checks at the the Forum in Inglewood.

Volunteer doctors, dentists and optometrists will conduct free health clinic for uninsured and under-insured individuals. 

The eight-day healthcare event will run from 5:30 a.m to 6 p.m. and is sponsored by Remote Area Medical, a charity that in the past has staged clinics in rural sections of the United States. 

People started arriving before 3. Many said they didn't have health insurance and saw this as an opportunity to be checked out. Organizers placed them in stadium seats outside the Forum, and some said they waited for hours to get medical treatment.

Since 1985, about 400,000 adults and children have been treated by the organization, its leaders said. Individuals will not be required to show proof of income or insurance or documentation of any kind for treatment, according to organizers.

Only 1,200 people a day will be scheduled for the 45 medical exam rooms, 100 dental stations and 25 eye exam sites set up at The Forum, they said. Full exams, including Mammography, chest X-rays, PAP smears, blood pressure screening and diabetes screening will be offered. Prescription eye glasses will be fitted and prepared on site, said organizers.

[UPDATED 11:59 a.m. By 11 a.m. crowds of people were sitting in old basketball arena chairs set up outside the Forum, waiting for their numbers to be called by clinic organizers.

“We’ve been here since 4,” said Vickie Zigetta, 52, of Lakewood.

Zigetta and others waiting for their numbers to be called were disappointed when organizers announced that they would have no further dental appointments today. Medical exams and vision checkups were available, however.

“A lot of adults don’t have medical or dental insurance,” said Zigetta. “My three children are covered under Medical because they’re not over 21. The number we’ve got to get in is like gold."

Zigetta has No. 1,095. Organizers had reached No. 800 as she spoke.

Zigetta said she wanted to get her eyes checked and a basic physical. She planned to come back for a dental checkup tomorrow.

Inside the Forum, people were waiting in the bleachers to be called and, on the floor of the old aren where hockey and basketball games once were played, were large RVs that contained specialized medical and equipment.

The old lockers rooms had been turned into examination rooms. In one of the old locker rooms, Phillip Clovis , 56, Inglewood was waiting to receive chiropractic treatment. Clovis said he arrived at 2:15 a.m. and was handed No. 348.

“So far I’ve had acupuncture and seen a doctor. I have back problems and after the acupuncture I feel much better.

“If this service was provided to a majority of Americans, you wouldn’t have 3,000 people lined up at the door of the Forum,” Clovis said. “It’s such a blessing.”

Clovis, an unemployed auto mechanic, said he learned about Tuesday clinic while job hunting.]

-- Bob Pool

Photo credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times