RAM sees growth, restructuring; continues mission to serve - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

RAM sees growth, restructuring; continues mission to serve

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RAM founder and president Stan Brock. WBIR photo RAM founder and president Stan Brock. WBIR photo
KNOXVILLE, TN (WBIR) -

Whether they swoop into a remote third world village, a bustling metropolitan city, or a rural Appalachian town, the mission of Remote Area Medical is always the same.

RAM founder and president Stan Brock keeps a constant reminder of that mission.

"There is a notice on my office wall that says 'Never forget the mission.' The mission is to treat people and help people," he said.

READ MORE | Remote Area Medical to have free clinic in Ooltewah this weekend

Brock remembers RAM's simple beginnings with a couple hundred dollars in the bank and a handful of volunteers.Over the course of three decades, 84,000 RAM volunteers have given the gift of free medical care to those who can't afford it. To date 600,000 people have been treated.

"I think Ben Birdwell gave us a 400-pound dental chair and a couple of us strong guys put the chair in the back of the suburban. We went to Sneedville, Tennessee," he recalled.

On that first expedition in the United States in 1991, RAM volunteers treated 150 people.

These days thousands of people line up, willing to wait overnight, to be seen by a RAM doctor.

A 2007 expedition to Wise County, Virginia was a turning point for RAM. It was featured in the New York Times magazine. The images caught the attention of CBS News anchor Scott Pelley who featured RAM on the news magazine "60 Minutes."

Brock says after Pelley's story aired, people around the world started taking notice.

"We started getting donations and now we've kind of come a long way," he said.

RAM's donations have soared into the millions. It's allowed the organization to move from a rundown school in Knox County to a 55,000 square foot headquarters in Blount County.

Now, giant transport trucks criss-cross the country with medical equipment and supplies in tow.

RAM's recent notoriety and growth is leading to a restructure of the organization. Brock says its two boards are merging into one for efficiency, and the search is on for its first CEO to manage the day-to-day business. Brock's role remains the same.

Read more at WBIR's website.

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