Arlington resident’s visit to free clinic changed her vision

Ram 0223 (1)It was 2021, and Precious Harris hadn’t seen clearly in five years. The Arlington resident was one of thousands of North Texas residents who didn’t have vision insurance or the means to buy new glasses.

Her circumstances changed after a friend told her about a free clinic organized for the last two years by The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth and Remote Area Medical, known as RAM®, a national nonprofit that provides pop-up clinics offering free medical, dental and vision to anyone in need. That friend was Jessica Rangel, HSC’s executive vice president of health systems.

“When Jessica told me about RAM, my first thought was about all of the people I knew who could benefit from this clinic,” Harris said. “Having something like this was significant for my community.”

Harris left the RAM clinic that year with two new pairs of glasses, and she could see clearly for the first time in years.

“I still have the pairs of glasses I got from RAM,” Harris said. “The doctors I saw were so professional and explained everything they were doing.”

This year’s clinic will take place Nov. 4 and 5 at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2001 W. Seminary Drive in Fort Worth. The event marks the third year in a row RAM and HSC have partnered to bring free, quality care to North Texas.

RAM will offer dental cleanings, fillings and extractions; eye exams, glaucoma testing and eyeglass prescriptions with glasses made on site; women’s health exams; and general medical exams. RAM services are first-come, first-served. They are offered free of charge, and no ID is required.

“It is truly moving to witness the kindness and generosity of our students, faculty, staff and community partners as they give our community access to care they might not otherwise get,” Rangel said. “To see the joy on someone’s face when they can see clearly for the first time in years, receive their first medical examination ever, or have a painful tooth treated is life-changing indeed.”

During the past two years, more than 900 patients have visited the DFW clinics, and volunteer medical professionals, many of them from HSC, have provided care valued at an estimated $3.7 million.

Since her first visit to the clinic, Harris has become a self-appointed ambassador for RAM. She spreads awareness by hanging flyers and talking to people around North Texas as much as she can.

Harris, who serves as an advocate for patients at Cancer Care Services in Fort Worth, her church community at New Breed Grace Global Ministries and the underserved Black community across Arlington, Hurst, Bedford and Euless, said the word “need” continually comes to mind when thinking about RAM.

“The services RAM provides are needed so badly, not only by me, but by so many others across the community,” she said. “I hope HSC and RAM continue this clinic for as long as they can. It’s making such a difference.”

For more information about RAM’s pop-up clinics or to volunteer, visit www.ramusa.org, or call 865-579-1530. To donate, visit www.unthsc.edu/ram, or call 817-456-3143.

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