DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - In the half century since it opened, the Los Angeles Sports Arena has hosted basketball games, track and field events, concerts, raves and even a presidential nomination. But next month, it will bring in thousands of people for something completely different: health treatment.
A cadre of health and civic officials this afternoon announced that a clinic run by Remote Area Medical will come to the arena in Exposition Park from April 27-May 3. A similar event held last year at the Forum in Inglewood drew more than 6,300 people who waited hours for free medical treatment.
The Downtown venue is anticipated to serve more than 10,000 people, and officials hope that 500 doctors, dentists, optometrists, nurses and others will be involved. All healthcare providers and most of the support staff volunteer their time.
“This event could not be more timely,” said County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas during the announcement of the event, which came the day after President Barack Obama signed the national healthcare reform bill.
Officials said that many of the attendees will be either people without insurance, or those whose insurance does not include dental or vision coverage. Former state Speaker of the Assembly Karen Bass said that 8.2 million people in California lack health insurance. Los Angeles County has 2.1 million uninsured people.
“L.A. County is essentially ground zero for the uninsured in this state,” Bass said.
During the seven-day event, health industry professionals will offer free medical, dental and vision care; for the latter, eyeglasses can be manufactured on site. The clinic will not involve any taxpayer dollars, said organizers.
The nonprofit Remote Area Medical has put together more than 600 free clinics around the world, said Stan Brock, the organization’s founder. During the 2009 Inglewood event, the first one in the Los Angeles region, people lined up early each morning. During the run, 14,000 medical services were provided to 6,334 patients, some of whom traveled from outside the state.
The event was moved to the Sports Arena partly because of the ability to draw larger crowds and because of the site’s freeway access.
Additionally, said Ridley-Thomas, “We can manage the environment much more effectively than was the case before.”
Brock said that the idea to bring RAM to Los Angeles came from Jerry Moss, the philanthropist and co-founder of A&M Records, and his wife Ann Moss. In the month leading up to the event, a key focus will be finding medical professionals to volunteer.
“The more doctors, the more people we can help,” said Ann Moss.
Volunteer information is at http://ramfreeclinic.org">ramfreeclinic.org.
Contact Jon Regardie at email@example.com.
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