When Eva Davis heard about the Lynchburg Community Care Collaborative, she knew it was her chance to get the health care she’s long-needed.

“I want to be healthy for my grandkids and my children,” Davis said, explaining her decision to spend her morning at the Salvation Army. “I want to be here for a long time.”

Davis, who does not have health insurance, received a wellness screen and dental care at Saturday’s yearly event. She said the services provided at the Care Collaborative are invaluable for people without coverage.

“I appreciate what they’re doing for us, it’s just great,” she said. “This is a wonderful thing they’re doing.”

The second annual Care Collaborative, sponsored by Liberty University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, offered a wide array of free services including, hearing and vision tests, mental health screenings and addiction recovery resources. Doctors were on hand providing diagnoses to long-standing health issues and even prescribing free 30-day supplies of medications.

About 40 community organizations provided job and housing resources, education opportunities and emergency relief. Attendees even could get free haircuts and meals.

The event relied on more than 200 volunteers, according to James Cook, the director of medical outreach and international medicine at LUCOM.

By 11 a.m., 200 people had received wellness checks from about 120 LUCOM students at the event’s free clinic, Cook said.

“The whole purpose of this event is to reduce and eliminate barriers,” he said.

Janae Fry, a third year LUCOM student, said the event was as much about service as it was about education. She said the Care Collaborative provided students an opportunity to get real-world experience by helping patients.

“It’s a learning experience for us, but it’s also a chance for us to give back to our community,” Fry said. “Most of us aren’t from this area, so it’s a chance to get out into our community and to serve the people that are around us who need health care.”

Elisha Gallimore attended the collaborative because her insurance does not cover vision exams. She said she was skeptical when she arrived at the Salvation Army.

“There ain’t nothing ever in this life for free,” she said, explaining her thoughts when she heard about the event. But after Gallimore received a free identification card from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, she said she was eager to take advantage of all of the collaborative’s services.

“I’m glad I came,” she said.

Another patient, Cody Taylor, said the free medical exam gave him peace of mind after the screening showed he was in good health.

“Everything went pretty good for me today,” Taylor said. “As someone without insurance, it’s very important for me that they have these types of events every once in a while.”

Meagan Hawley, a volunteer with the Free Clinic of Central Virginia, one of the many Lynchburg-area LCCC partners, said about half of the patients who attended the event do not have insurance. She said the clinic hoped to connect with those without coverage to provide long-term care beyond Saturday.

Kristin Ogden, the Dean of Institutional Effectiveness at Central Virginia Community College, said the college plans to provide pathways for students interested in pursuing higher level degrees and for those who need fast training for employment. Ogden stressed education is just as important as other services in the effort to keep people healthy.

“Education, we believe, is a key to supporting people to be able to live the lives that they want to live,” Ogden said. “And so this event was a great partnership for us because some of their daily needs are met and then they can start thinking about how they can sustain themselves through job training.”

“We want them to have food security, good health and to understand the things that will help them live a long and productive life.”

Richard Chumney covers breaking news and public safety for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5547.

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Richard Chumney covers breaking news and public safety for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5547.

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