Founder of RAM clinics dies

Stan Brock, the founder of Remote Area Medical that brings mobile medical clinics to isolated and underserved communities, died Wednesday in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was 82.

Brock founded RAM 33 years ago with its clinics that have provided more than 740,000 people around the world with free dental, vision and medical services, all of which is provided by volunteer health care professionals.

RAM runs several clinics in Virginia, including the one held each summer on the Wise County Fairgrounds.

“Our hearts are deeply broken by the loss of our hero, friend and great humanitarian we have known for 22 years, our beloved Stan Brock,” said Teresa Tyson, executive director of the Health Wagon, RAM’s partner in Wise. “Stan was the biggest advocate for patients in Central Appalachia and was a champion of healthcare for all underserved individuals across the world since 1957. We mourn and grieve with the rest of the world as we have truly lost an astonishing visionary who has dedicated his whole life to ameliorate the suffering related to health care inaccessibility.”

Brock was born in England and moved to what is now Guyana in 1952 and managed a 4,000-square-foot cattle ranch. His biography posted on RAM’s website said the vision to bring medical care to people came about after he was thrown violently from a horse and was 26 days away on foot from medical care.

He came to the U.S. in 1968 and co-hosted “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.” Two decades later he founded RAM to serve as safety net care in developing countries, and soon brought it to Tennessee.

The first clinic in Wise was held in 2000 and remains the largest medical outreach in the U.S.

Tyson said in a news release that Brock had called her before this year’s event to tell her that he had cancer and less than six months to live.

“I was never so heartbroken, and it was so hard to put on a smile knowing the devastating news and to continue working through the event knowing this would be the last event we would serve at together,” she said.

RAM also holds clinics in Buchanan and Lee counties.

Gov. Ralph Northam, who is a physician, said, “I am better for having spent time in Stan’s company volunteering at RAM over the years, both as a public servant and provider. I will miss his extraordinary spirit, but am confident it will endure through volunteers continuing his important life’s work.”

He credited the work of advocates such as Brock for Medicaid expansion in the state.

Virginia’s senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both also former governors, came to know Brock and paid tribute.

“Stan Brock was a good friend and a visionary leader in health care who we will all miss dearly,” Kaine said. “He understood how the power of volunteerism could be used to change lives, and he set an example for us all to live by. I’m thankful to have known him and my thoughts are with the entire RAM family at this hard time.”

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