Western Kentucky is one of the many rural areas around the country where a lack of resources prevents residents from receiving proper, full-scope medical care. Frontier Nursing University (FNU) graduate Linda Pierce, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC is looking to change that.
Inspired by FNU’s mission and her own personal calling, Linda is helping bring the first-ever Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic to Madisonville, Ky. in September 2019.
Remote Area Medical (RAM) is a major nonprofit provider of free mobile clinics with a mission to prevent pain and alleviate suffering by providing free, quality healthcare to those in need. For rural western Kentuckians, these healthcare services can be life-changing.
Many participants in the RAM clinics are not able to afford medical insurance, or do not receive every facet of medical care they need with their healthcare packages. Basic dentistry, optometry and mental health care are often neglected in these situations. Linda believes in treating the whole patient, which is what RAM will provide.
With an education in Family Nursing Practice (FNP Class 103), Linda has always had a passion for helping others. In 2016, she became the first provider for the Fast Pace Urgent Care in Madisonville, offering primary care along with urgent care to all ages.
But after attending two RAM clinics in Tennessee, she began to see a greater need. She noticed how many attendees waited overnight in their cars for the clinic to begin the next morning, just so they could receive the care they desperately needed.
Conversations with fellow volunteers and coordinators began to get Linda’s wheels turning about how to bring a RAM clinic to rural western Kentucky.
“There’s a need here in Kentucky,” she said. “I’ve always had a vision to do medical missions. I’ve always wanted to take care of people who couldn’t take care of themselves, and now I have the avenue.”
Linda would have to jump through some hoops to get the first-ever western Kentucky RAM event started: Finding in-state volunteers, securing a location, and coordinating with RAM staff to organize the event at a high level.
She asked God to help her figure out where to have it, and it became clear that her church building would make a perfect first-year locale. Her pastor agreed to help her, and the location was approved by RAM officials early in 2019.
“Everything sort of started falling into place,” Linda said.
The two-day RAM event in Madisonville, Ky. will be held on September 14-15, 2019 at Grace Warehouse Church. This event is free and open to the public, with parking opening at 12 a.m. and clinic doors opening at 6 a.m.
With the location in place and a date secured, the next several months will focus on finding volunteers.
Those who specialize in dentistry, dental hygiene, optometry, pharmacy, podiatry and psychiatry are needed. Medical students are also encouraged to volunteer.
Even laypeople with no medical experience can get involved. Security, parking, greeting, ticket distribution, and walking patients from one station to another are just a few of the ways community members help RAM events run smoothly. It’s also a perfect opportunity for those who need to log community service hours.
Linda has called on the Madisonville community to get involved in this life-changing event. She has had great response from local churches, the county jail’s culinary school, local officials and several individuals willing to sponsor hotel rooms for the RAM core volunteers. Beginning with this newspaper article and with an upcoming meeting with the mayor of Madisonville and spots on local radio scheduled, Linda is passionate about getting even more volunteers from the community to join in.
“Our vision is to help as many people as we can,” she said. The more volunteers that sign up, the larger the scope and breadth of care the RAM clinic can offer.
She is already looking ahead to next year’s event, which will be held at the convention center at the fairgrounds and hopefully have an even larger capacity to serve more members of her western Kentucky area.
Linda credits FNU with driving her passion for helping others. “FNU focuses on the rural setting so much, not just what its graduates can do for themselves in a big-city, high-pay setting,” she said. “Frontier taught me to go to where people can’t get to you and just help however you can.”
As an active member of its Alumni Association Advisory Council, Linda is also enrolled in the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner post-graduate program, set to begin in spring 2020. Her aim is to offer mental health care to her primary care patients, treating them as holistically as possible.
Linda’s husband of 38 years, Larry, and their four children and seven grandchildren are her ultimate support system.
“I’m humbled every day to be able to use my skills to give back,” she said.
If you would like to volunteer at a RAM event, please visit RAMUSA.org/Volunteer-With-Us/. For Madisonville event volunteers: Click the “Register to Volunteer Here” button, fill out your information and select “Madisonville, KY 2019” in the Events section.