Throngs of would-be patients turned out Monday to the LA Sports Arena to get a wristband that will get them into the free health clinic that begins Thursday. This is the fourth year LA Care has put on the free clinic, and some 5,000 people were treated during last year's event, which provides free medical, dental and vision care. Ted Chen reports from the LA Sports Arena at Exposition Park for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sept. 24, 2012.
The length of the line of people wrapped around the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena Monday showcased the need and desperation of Southern Californians who lack health insurance.
Potential patients camped out overnight in some cases to receive wrist bands that would get them into the 4-day free health clinic that begins Thursday.
Veteran Jack Wilhite says he's covered by the Veteran's Administration but the insurance is limited.
"They don’t do dental work, so I’m hoping to get my teeth fixed and maybe a couple of fillings," Wilhite said.
It’s the fourth year that low-income health care provider Care Harbor Los Angeles will host a free clinic made up of volunteering doctors, dentists and optometrists. The clinics started in rural areas before it was determined need in the city was just as great.
"It’s hard to figure out whether the people getting the service are getting more out of it than the people giving the services," said Howard Kahn, CEO of Care Harbor LA.
"The people waiting in line are so grateful and then you talk to volunteers who have been here, sometimes four days straight and they just say, 'I can’t believe how much I was able to do.'"
Last year, Laura Coles was a volunteer at the clinic. This year she will be a patient.
"I want to get a check up on my eyes this year," Coles said.
Some 5,000 patients were treated during last year's clinic, and the same is expected this time around.
The clinic will be held from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Friday at the LA Sports Arena at Exposition Park.