HE FOUNDED A FREE MEDICAL SERVICE FOR THE THIRD WORLD BUT FINDS THOUSANDS OF NEEDY PATIENTS RIGHT IN THE U.S. -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY ON CBS
Former "Wild Kingdom" Star Stan Brock, Founder of "Remote Area Medical," Finds He's Needed in America to Plug the Health Insurance Gap
Stan Brock founded the Remote Area Medical organization to bring free medicine to the Third World, where it was most needed. But increasingly, he's finding thousands of needy patients right here in the U.S., where 47 million people have no health insurance. Brock speaks to Scott Pelley in an interview to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, March 2 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
He became familiar with the needs of remote peoples through his days working on a South American cattle ranch and as zoologist Marlon Perkins' muscle-bound assistant in the pioneering television nature show "Wild Kingdom." The reality now is that between trips to places like the Amazon, Remote Area Medical (RAM) does 60 percent of its work in the United States. Brock was surprised at the numbers of people who came to his first American "medical expedition," as he refers to them. "I was [surprised] and the numbers are getting higher," he tells Pelley, "and I don't know if it's because we are getting better known or that the health care in this country is getting worse," says Brock.
Brock is a pilot and often flies some of his volunteer medical staff and donated supplies into an area for a weekend, where, typically, hundreds of people are already lined up to take numbers to see the doctors, dentists and nurses. Who are these patients? "It's the working poor, middle of their lives, most with families, most not substance abusers and employed without adequate insurance," says Dr. Ross Isaacs, a RAM volunteer.
After spending a weekend providing 920 Americans with free medical care, you would think Brock would feel fulfilled. But as his two-day free clinic in Knoxville, Tenn., ended on a recent Sunday evening, he had to close his doors on 400 people. "That's the lousy part of this job," he tells Pelley. At the Knoxville clinic, patients came from six states in the middle of the night in freezing weather to get care. The 276 volunteers providing it came from 11 states.
Every year, Brock's organization helps thousands of Americans who have no health insurance and others who are underinsured. "It's nice to...know that you've helped a bunch of people, but the reality is we can't do everybody," says Brock.
Pelley and 60 MINUTES cameras covered the Knoxville "expedition," where RAM volunteers extracted 1,066 teeth, did 567 fillings, performed 94 mammograms and made 500 pairs of glasses, in addition to almost 300 general medical exams. One of those getting glasses was Knoxville-area resident Joanne Ford, elderly, living on disability and unable to afford eye care. She came to RAM instead of asking her friends for help and was, like others 60 MINUTES interviewed, grateful for the help provided by RAM. "I've worked all my life. I hate to ask. That's why things like this are so wonderful," Ford tells Pelley.