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Jennifer Bjorklund & Rodney Danson
Doctors, dentists and vision experts are taking part in a free health clinic at the LA Sports Arena. It's a program that's helping the nearly two million Angelinos who are currently without health insurance. Jennifer Bjorklund reports.
Thousands of people without insurance will receive free medical care Thursday, the first day of a four-day free clinic at the Sports Arena.
The clinic, organized by Los Angeles-based nonprofit CareNow, is expected to draw 5,000 uninsured and underinsured patients.
Patients will need a wristband to receive services. The wristbands, distributed Monday, indicate which day a patient can attend. Some hopeful patients even camped out overnight to obtain one.
"I haven't had a job in the last seven years, and so I don't have any insurance and there's no low-income insurance that I qualify (for)," Carol Hickman said as she stood in line Monday waiting for a wristband.
Another man, Nigel Thomas, said he was hoping to have some dental work done.
"I'm trying to get medical attention for my teeth, cavity in my back tooth, I'm trying to get it out and I don't have insurance," Thomas said.
This is the fourth event that CareNow has organized around Los Angeles County.
"We hope to keep doing these until we're obsolete,'' said CareNow President Don Manelli."There are 2 million uninsured in L.A. County. We're doing what we can do.''
Services include medical screenings, women's health exams and chiropractors, acupuncturists and other specialists. About 800 medical professionals joined the effort, organized by CareNow.
Physicians will attend to patients in curtained-off cubicles serving as consulting rooms. Officials plan to serve about 1,200 people each day.
"I specialize in treating people who are scared, so this is fun," said dentist, Marie Buell.
For Dr. Lillian Gelberg, a family medicine professor at University of California Los Angeles, the mass clinic demonstrates real issues in the medical system. “We need to get everybody
insured,"' she said.
This year, CareNow has lined up about 40 clinics to provide free follow-up care to the patients. "Our goal is to make sure people in line this year don't have to be in line next year,'' Manelli
said."Now there's continuity of care."
About 6,000 people attended the CareNow clinic last year. Two years ago, more than 14,000 people were treated during an eight-day clinic at the Forum in Inglewood.