U.S. Health Care Gets Boost From Charity

"60 Minutes": Remote Area Medical Finds It's Needed In America To Plug Health Insurance Gap

"You created this medical organization designed to go into Third World countries to go into remote places, and now doing 60 percent of your work in urban and rural America, what are we supposed to make of that?" Pelley asked Brock.

"For the 50 million or so people in this country, the one thing that is on their mind is 'What if I have a catastrophic event, a car crash, a heart attack,'" he replied. "'Because I either have no health insurance or I'm underinsured.' And, so this is a very, very weighty thing to be thinking about, knowing that your family is in great jeopardy."

Late Sunday, Joanne Ford's number was among the last. Pelley found her sitting by a stairwell. She's retired, living on disability with no insurance, and her glasses don't work anymore. She got in only to find out the vision care line had closed.

Asked what she was going to do, Ford told Pelley, "I don't know. I have a lot of friends and I have a lot of church support. I was very active in my church and I have a lot of friends in church. I just hate to ask. I've worked all my life. I hate to ask. That's why things like this are so wonderful."

"There is no shame in seeking healthcare," Pelley remarked.

"No. You're right. You know, it really, I am sad that we are the wealthiest nation in the world, and we don't take care of our own. So. But it will be okay," she said.

And it did turn out okay after all. Someone at RAM noticed Ford's situation. They put her in the vision care line and examined her for a new pair of glasses.

But at the gate, many were waiting when the weekend ended.

In the expedition to Knoxville, RAM saw 920 patients, made 500 pairs of glasses, did 94 mammograms, extracted 1,066 teeth and did 567 fillings. But when Stan Brock called the last number, 400 people were turned away.

"What's going through your mind when you're reading off the last two or three numbers and you see so many more people at the gate than are going to be able to come in?" Pelley asked.

"Yeah, you know, that's the lousy part of this job. I mean, it's nice to be able to know that you've helped a bunch of people. But the reality is that we can't do everybody. At the moment, we're just seeing the thousands and thousands of people that we can, and the rest of them, unfortunately, have got to do the best they can without us," Brock said.



Since we first broadcast this story, Remote Area Medical has received close to $2.5 million in donations from 60 Minutes viewers. And Stan Brock has testified on Capitol Hill about health care.

Later this month, RAM will hold its biggest expedition of the year in Wise, Va. (Click here for a schedule.)

If the last few years are any guide, volunteers will see some 2,500 patients. And at the end of the weekend, they will turn away hundreds more.

Produced by Henry Schuster