A free three-day dental, vision and medical clinic is being offered at Malcolm X College.
A non-profit group brought in doctors and nurses all offering their services for free with no appointment needed. Remote Area Medical (RAM) is a free clinic program that has come to Chicago with the help of the CURE Network, a Chicago area nonprofit organization dedicated to improving access to specialty medical care services for the underserved.
Hundreds waited in line when the doors opened at 5:30 a.m.
"There's 950,000 people without dental insurance in the city, and for some of these people, this is the only option they have," said CURE Network founder Dr. Kenneth Nelson.
65 dental chairs filled the room staffed with volunteer dentists, dental assistants and technicians all donating their time and talents to support the RAM free clinic and to provide cleanings, fillings and extraction over the 3-day period.
"A lot of what we're doing is extracting teeth, unfortunately, and then trying to get them into an avenue of follow-up care," said Westchester dentist Dr. Tom Sullivan.
"It's going to help me, because right now, I don't have dental insurance," said Malcolm X student and RAM patient Donovan Hughes.
"I am so grateful for this whole program," said patient Pamela Wortham. "I have had dental pain for quite a bit of time."
The clinic will also be open Saturday and Sunday. The goal is to provide care to thousands of patients.
Ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians and vision technicians were busy taking care of those in need of eye services.
"It is a blessing for me to get some work done that I can't afford to pay," said patient Frederick Johnson.
If a patient is in need of glasses, they can select a pair they need and wait for them to be made on the premises.
"It makes a big difference in somebody's life when they can see well enough because we give them a pair of glasses to get a job or we remove the pain and suffering from the bad teeth that they have," said RAM founder Stan Brock.
A number of individuals took advantage of the medical clinic set up for physicals with doctors addressing their health needs.
"Being here and watching how organized this is and how many people they are able to help and make their pain go away - it's awesome," said local accountant Chuck Mauter, one of many volunteers donating their time to help in the free clinic.
The RAM free clinic intends to come back next year and may be held in a stadium.
If you are interested in being a patient or volunteering, you can call (877) 278-7631. Organizers say they need plenty of volunteers to help with the free clinic operation.
The CURE Network, which stands of Collaborative Underserved Relief and Education, is hosting the clinic, which is being run on a first come, first served basis. Doors are open until the clinic reaches capacity.
For more information, go to the CURE Network website at www.curenetwork.org