Free health care events draw long lines


Little Mia Lanuza, who got her her teeth cleaned Friday, was one of 1,000 people who took advantage of a free dental and healthcare clinic at the O.Co Coliseum. Mia's mother also had some work done on her teeth.

"I thought I was going to have to have surgery for the problem I have, but deep cleaning is good enough," Estella Velasquez said.

Others needed an eye exam, or something as simple as a routine physical or some lab work done. In some cases, minor surgeries were performed.

"They're coming in for sexually transmitted diseases, pap smears for cervical cancer and pelvic exams for tumors, masses and other gynecological problems," volunteer physician Dr. Jeffrey Hardesty said.

For all those served, many more had to be turned away.

"I saw person after person after person, and I knew, there's no way we're going to be able to get to them," volunteer physician Dr. Lela Lewis said. "I'm grabbing moms and babies and pulling them in, above everybody else. It is heartbreaking."

Not everyone was uninsured; some said they had insurance or MediCal, but it doesn't cover what they need.

Oakland resident Rod Kelly just signed up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

"I believe it does have teeth, vision I'm not sure of, but I was sure they had vision here, which is the reason that I came," Kelly said.

Organizers say even those who have medical or private insurance show up because they can't afford to pay the co-pays or deductibles that come with their coverage.

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