By late afternoon on Wednesday, more than 700 people had been treated at the first large-scale free clinic in the District, and the lines were only getting longer.
"Some didn't think we'd get this kind of response in D.C., where only ten percent of the population lacks insurance," said Nicole Lamoreaux, executive director of the Association of Free Clinics. "But look at this crowd. There are a huge amount of people here in need of these services."
The event, which cost $300,000, was underwritten by 44,000 donors.
Many of the patients shared their horror stories while waiting in line -- the man who was laid off last year and couldn’t afford his son’s back-to-school physical exam, the uninsured 82-year-old from Leesburg who hid her puppy in a small canvas bag and murmured, "when you’re 82, you have to have something wrong with you. I just don’t know what I have."
Others expressed frustration that, with so much talk about health care reform, they were still forced to come to a convention center for medical care.
"They say the system is changing, but it doesn't feel like it right now," said James Robinson, who lost his job and his health insurance in February.