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UofL dental and medical community to help fill health care need in Appalachia

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – More than 120 University of Louisville faculty, staff, students and alumni will travel to eastern Kentucky June 11-12 to provide residents in and around Pikeville, Ky., free dental and medical care.

This is the fourth year UofL has volunteered to serve the Appalachian region through Remote Area Medical (RAM), a non-profit organization that serves people in remote areas of the United States and around the world.

Most of the 80-chair dental clinic at Pike County Central High School will be staffed by UofL dental students and faculty. They will offer extractions, fillings, cleanings, denture services and oral cancer screenings. The RAM clinic also will include a variety of medical exams, including screenings for cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Several UofL medical students and at least two medical faculty will help with these efforts. The clinic also will offer eye exams and eye glasses for those in need.

“The University of Louisville has a mission of community engagement, and we are doing our part to serve not only the local community but other parts of the state,” said Lee Mayer, DMD, associate professor and director of community dental health, UofL School of Dentistry. “This is another opportunity for students, faculty and staff to gain an understanding of barriers to oral health care.”

Public health professionals with the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps also will help staff the clinics; this is the second year they have taken part in the Pikeville RAM effort. They plan to offer classroom instruction on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, infection control and substance abuse to patients, providers and the community at large. This represents the first time there has been a major effort to educate the public through a classroom atmosphere at a RAM clinic.

This two-day event represents a microcosm of the crisis in the U.S. with regard to the uninsured and underinsured population and their need for, and access to, health care. Up to 1,300 people are expected to turn out - and even camp out overnight - in order to seek free medical, dental and vision care.

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