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Patients pour into L.A. Sports Arena for free medical, dental care

October 31, 2013|By Eryn Brown

An army of doctors, nurses, dentists and other health workers on Thursday began providing free care to a steady stream of patients at the annual Care Harbor clinic at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.

Care Harbor founder Don Manelli estimated that 700 to 800 people would receive free care by the end of the day Thursday. In all, the clinic expects to serve about 4,000 Angelenos--many of whom don't have insurance, or don't have coverage for services like dentistry or vision care.

Stations were set up across the arena floor for specialized services such as AIDS testing, eye exams and immunization. Nearly half of the space was filled with dental chairs; another large area had tables for patients to visit to learn about health programs and insurance options.

During a morning news conference, Manelli and others praised efforts to enroll needy patients in coverage, but interest among patients seemed tepid. Some didn't notice the information tables, leaving enrollment workers to sit and wait at times.  Some who stopped by found they already had coverage without knowing it.

One mother, whose family would be automatically covered under the health care system overhaul because they currently have Medi-Cal insurance, said she didn't want to hear about "Obamacare plans" until she was certain her family’s care would improve.

"I'm not signing up without dental or vision," said 35-year-old Patricia Boutte, of Hawthorne.


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