Medical volunteers work to provide free services

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Corey Moore/KPCC

Cora Russell, left, and two companions show off the wristbands that allow them access to the Remote Area Medical event at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.

This week, thousands of people will head to the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena to take advantage of free medical and dental services. The Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps is organizing the clinic in L.A for a second time. To get in, you will need a wristband. Organizers passed out about 6,000 on Sunday.

A few, like 72-year-old Cora Russell, tried their luck after arriving too late. Cora arrived in her motor-operated wheelchair to get a wristband that would get free medical, dental or vision services. She needs her dentures fixed and Medicare won’t pay for it.

“My false teeth has holes in them. See?” she said, as she shows. “And it’s hard for me to chew.”

Though Cora missed the time when wristbands were handed out, volunteer Judy Snoops tried to help.

“I’m giving out numbers of the Hubert Humphrey Health Center downtown which can hopefully help them with some of their dental problems,” said Snoops. “She (Cora) needs her dentures realigned but I don’t know if we can see her this week. But maybe this is another resource for her.”

It’s one of the toughest parts of the job for these volunteers: turning away people who need medical attention. Speaking of volunteers, there might not be enough.

“The number of volunteers determines how many patients we can see,” said Remote Area Medical organizer Don Manelli. “It’s all gonna get done but everyone has to be patient. We want to be sure we do it right so they’ll be no left over wristbands. We’ll give everybody the wristband that they need.”

Manelli says Remote Area Medical is looking for more doctors, nurses, and volunteers. There will be 40 exam rooms, 100 dental chairs and 30 vision aisles.

Meantime, Cora Russell will get those dentures fixed. Organizers pulled strings to get her a bright green wristband.

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