WISE, Va. — Gov. Terry McAuliffe renewed his pitch for expanding health care to the poor Friday by touring a field hospital set up at a county fairgrounds, where people had camped out for days for the chance to see a dentist or doctor.
McAuliffe flew to the Remote Area Medical expedition in far southwest Virginia, where the line for free dental and medical care was 1,500 long by 4 a.m. Friday, when organizers started turning people away.
“That just breaks your heart,” said McAuliffe (D), standing in a horse barn that served as a makeshift doctor’s office, with bedsheets strung up between examination tables to provide a measure of privacy.
McAuliffe chatted there with a single mother who comes to the clinic every year to get treatment for asthma and to see the dentist. The woman told him that she can get insurance through her job as a foodservice worker but that the premium would consume half her paycheck. He told her that he was “working hard so we can get health care for everyone when they want it, not just once a year.”
The free clinic springs up at the Wise County Fairgrounds every year. Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps, began offering medical services in Third World countries 30 years ago but today focuses on poor parts of America, including this scenic but economically depressed swath of Appalachian coal country.