Champions have returned to the Forum. They don’t wear singlets or bounce basketballs like former tenants, the Los Angeles Lakers, but they are definitely winners.
On Tuesday, the Forum underwent a transformation, from sports arena to triage and treatment center. One volunteer likened it to a “giant battleship floating hospital,” with row upon row of rooms where, by next Wednesday, more than 8,000 people will have received free medical attention.
But they need more help. Volunteers – both medical professionals and non-medical helpers – are needed to help the thousands of patients lined up in the Inglewood parking lot. Specialists in the dental and ophthalmology/optometry specialties are still desperately needed. Many of the patients at the Forum are seeking eye care and glasses, as well as treatment for dental problems.
Santa Clarita dentist Dell Ariel Goodrick will be one of the dental professionals working this weekend. KHTS will have a report chronicling his experiences when the clinic concludes next week.
“All they need to do is come with a copy of their credentials and professional attire,” explained Alexandra, one of the volunteers. “Just come to the Forum and tell the people at the volunteer parking entrance that you were told to come in.”
Medical volunteers with prescription-writing authority must also bring their own prescription pads; medicines are available on site, but all prescriptions must be written on the individual doctor’s scrip pad.
Shifts begin at 5:30 a.m. and go until 6 p.m.; those volunteers who can work a full day are asked to come in at 5:30 for orientation; those who can only work later in the day are asked to arrive by 11:30 a.m., but medical volunteers who get off work early in the afternoon are still encouraged to come and work the few hours left in the day.
The clinic is being run by Remote Area Medical (RAM), a Knoxville, Tennessee-based charity founded in 1985 to conduct humanitarian medical missions in third-world countries. Recently, with a growing number of uninsured and under-insured Americans in urban areas, the charity has turned its focus inward. Previous efforts have taken place in Appalachia and the city zoo in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The Forum is the largest center they’ve ever opened.
The Forum effort involves hundreds of medical and non-medical professionals. Sixty nurses and students will register patients. In the general medical area, 20 general practitioners and internists will work alongside 23 other specialists, including pediatricians, endocrinologists, cardiologists, gynecologists, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, urologists, nephrologists and podiatrists. They will be supported by more than 50 nurses.
Ten opthalmologists will work with 40 optometrists; 26 opticians will grind lenses on site. More than 70 dentists will work with three oral surgeons, 84 dental assistants, 30 hygienists and 11 x-ray and dental lab technicians. Ten pharmacists and pharmacy students will dispense medications.
In addition, patients will be able to receive mammograms, chest x-rays, pap smears, have their hearing tested, consult with mental health workers, acupuncturists and social workers.
Along with health care, the patients attending the clinic will receive a brown bag lunch, and more than 600 volunteers are expected to be fed breakfast and a hot lunch and dinner. Donations of food and drinks for the workers are still needed.
“We have such a great turnout of professionals and nonprofessional volunteers and the patients here on site that we are endeavoring to provide food and snacks and beverages,” said Alexandra, who was staffing the solicitation line on Friday.
“We’re giving brown bag lunches to all 1,500 patients, so we need fruit and cookies, health bars and sandwiches, water and beverages. We are looking for any restaurants, whether they are corporate franchises, or mom and pop restaurants who want to help us. We’re also feeding about 600 volunteers breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is a great opportunity for people to step up to the plate and help. We don’t need to have one company do all the food, but this is a chance for do what we do best.
“We just got a great donation from El Pollo Loco, which donated food for 300 people. We’ve had individuals help, too, one person heard about what we were doing and went out and bought a deli platter and a case of water. There’s such a range of what people can do. We’re trying to keep going until Tuesday night.
One thing she has noticed over the last few days is an overwhelming sense of appreciation.
“People, no matter how long they’ve been waiting, they are so lovely. You’ve heard of the LA good vibes and good things, well, they all emanating from the Forum.”
Anyone wishing to help should go to The Forum and check in at the volunteer parking area and volunteer entrance. Medical professionals must bring their professional licenses and are encouraged to bring their own diagnostic equipment (stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, etc). Basic supplies, such as gloves and hand sanitizer, will be available. Casual, modest attire is recommended (scrubs, capris, jeans, T-shirts). Comfortable shoes are a must. No short shorts, strapless tops or short tops with bare midriffs. Because of the variety of populations that will be served, it is recommended that volunteers do NOT wear camouflaged-print or khaki clothing.
For more information, call (310) 374-3426.