RAM: Increasing affordable care in Alaska
The Alaska healthcare infrastructure has a wide variety of challenges, with insurance plans transforming into discount programs, bureaucracy, language barriers, eligibility issues and a profound urban-rural divide. However, an upcoming series of events by Remote Area Medical- RAM, will provide an opportunity for Alaskans to receive access to a wide array of medical services later this year.
Patrick Campaign, Community Host Group Lead of Remote Area Medical, explained in an interview with Sol de Medianoche News that these events increase the accessibility of affordable care: “Sliding fee scale clinics are in critical supply, and the wait for new patients can be upwards of three months. These charitable pop-up clinics help fulfill a need for those who cannot afford care or cannot qualify. We partner with local clinics to assist with long-term care and provide resources for these patients who are often overwhelmed on what to do next and where to go.
Raised in Alaska, Campaign’s journey into medicine was inspired by his childhood eye doctor, a figure whose impact motivated him to pursue a career in healthcare: “My childhood eye doctor was a huge inspiration for me, and I knew that I wanted to help others as much as he did.” So, when he was in 8th grade, he realized that he wanted to go into medicine and wanted to give back to his community: “I love helping my fellow neighbors in Alaska, but most charitable organizations who offer free medical care often focus on traveling overseas. Volunteerism is important to me and I do understand the need in other countries, but I knew that there were plenty of suffering residents of Alaska to provide care here.”
That’s why he partnered with RAM, an organization that focuses on pop-up clinics that increase access to affordable care. After almost 2 years of planning, the first clinics in April 2023 saw nearly 700 residents receive over $300,000 worth of free healthcare, prompting the return of RAM to Alaska in April 2024.
According to Campaign, a typical day at a RAM event is marked by a welcoming atmosphere. People wait overnight in anticipation, and doors open at 6 am on a first-come-first-served basis. On-site registration, basic health checks, and patient preferences for medical, vision, or dental care set the tone. The average visit lasts 2-3 hours, with spare room for additional services and a separate area for lab work and follow-up care.
RAM clinics include dental care, eye exams, lab work, women’s health exams, and general medical exams – all free of charge, with no ID required. Alaskans can expect a patient-centric approach, unburdened by insurance constraints. Addressing language barriers, Campaign emphasized collaboration with local associations for volunteer interpreters, but anyone can contribute, be it as an interpreter or in various support roles. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up at volunteer.ramusa.org or contact Campaign directly at email@example.com.
The RAM Alaska Pop-up clinics set in Anchorage and Fairbanks are scheduled for April 20-21 and April 27-28, respectively.