In Inglewood, California last year, thousands of Americans lined up in the middle of the night, quietly standing until morning when the gates of the Forum sports arena would open and their numbers called. Not an unusual scene had this been a queue to purchase tickets for a basketball game or a rock concert., but these people were forgoing sleep for a chance to enter a makeshift medical clinic offering free care from volunteer health professionals.
The organization Remote Area Medicine (RAM) that sponsors these domestic missions was founded in 1985 by Stan Brock whose original vision was to bring Western medicine to third world people living in inaccessible regions like Guyana, South America's rainforest. However, several years ago, Brock recognized a growing need for the same kind of medical missions in the U.S. as the ranks of uninsured, underinsured, unemployed and underemployed began to swell. Today teams of volunteer health professionals provide vision, dental and basic primary preventive screening including mammograms and PAP smears all across the country.
On a typical weekend, RAM health professionals care for as many as 6000 individuals willing to line up the night before for the opportunity to be seen on a first come, first served basis.
According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2008 http://www.annals.org/content/149/3/170.abstract, one out of three working age adults with chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have joined the ranks of the uninsured. Many of these estimated 11.4 million either go without care or come into emergency rooms, often with critical problems that could have been averted had they been seen earlier.
Lead author Andrew P. Wilper, M.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues, used the government's National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) of 12,500 adults ages 18 to 64 for this study. The researchers found that close to a third of these uninsured with chronic illness had not been to a doctor in the past year compared with less than 10% of insured patients. The implications of this report is that many of these otherwise productive working people are more likely to become disabled at a younger age or may even die due to lack of care.
This study highlighted what is becoming an increasingly critical problem in our country. Today more Americans are uninsured or underinsured than ever before. That's why my husband and I decided to donate all the royalties and monies from speaking engagements from our novel, Rabbit in the Moon to Remote Area Medicine (RAM). Thanks to all who have helped us to make substantial donations in the past two years.
For more information: Watch this video of a typical US mission featured on 60 Minutes Mission http://www.ramusa.org/learn/media.html
Also, a recent mission in Haiti highlighted on Dateline last week http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/41007053#41007994
Causes Deborah Shlian Supports
All royalties from my book, Rabbit in the Moon are contributed to to medical charities including Remote Area Medicine, Breast Cancer Research Foundation and...