Flying Doctors provide free care

Flying Doctors Provide Free Care in Thermal

THERMAL, Calif. - A team of medical volunteers is trying to help ease the healthcare crisis in the Coachella Valley.  Saturday, the Flying Doctors held a free clinic in Thermal for families in need. Health professionals worry without access to healthcare, too many are falling through the cracks.

Larry Tabor, Director of Dentist Services for Flying Doctors, says, "We are doing our piece to give back to the community."

The Flying Doctors first came to the area 17 years ago and right away, they saw the need for medical services.

Tabor says, "This community is probably at the greatest dental and medical need anywhere in the country, and you can see from the lines that we have outside that the services are needed."

A recent study ranks the Coachella Valley amongst the most underserved in the state. The reason is because of poverty and lack of healthcare services.

Chandra Batal, a pharmacist donating his time, says, "A lot of these patients don't have insurance, so what happens is they forget to take their meds or they cant really take their meds because they cant afford it."

Twice a year volunteers fly into the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport and are joined by local doctors.

Dr. Ron Lewis is volunteering. "This is a way I can pay back my many years of education," says Lewis.

Peggy Snyder, a patient, says, "I think its wonderful. I think its a godsend.  We are all very fortunate to have them here."

The event provided medical exams, glasses, mammograms, diabetic and blood pressure screenings as well as educational movies.

"Medical is just so expensive and many people can't get to medical care that they need," says Snyder.

Dentist chairs lined the gym so hundreds could get their teeth checked.

Sarah McDonough, a dental volunteer says, "I've done a couple of cleanings and a filling so far."

Doctor Paul Yoh, an optometrist, says, "I like to help people and we have been doing this for years."

Free childcare was also provided along with a resource fair.

The last event was held in March where volunteer doctors treated more than 1500 patients. Event coordinators say Saturday's event surpassed that.

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