In Public Health, we’re trained to look for long-term solutions for health disparities. It’s some of our most important work, but that doesn’t mean that immediate health needs go away. Last year, I participated in the Seattle/King County Clinic, and like many volunteers, found that a close-up view of that need was incredibly powerful to keep me grounded in reality.
The clinic involved the collective work of over 75 local organizations, including Public Health, held at the Seattle Center for four days in October. People traveled from all over the region to benefit from the free medical, dental and vision services, and the scope of the need was undeniable. Even with healthcare reform, some people still have trouble paying their out-of-pocket charges or can only pay for the most basic of medical exams, and some populations –such as recent immigrants to this country–are not eligible for insurance through the ACA.
Take a look at the numbers generated from the Seattle/King County Clinic held last October:
- 3386 patients provided with free vision, dental, and medical care
- 1500 healthcare professionals, interpreters, and general support staff volunteered
- 1159 eyeglasses dispensed
- 1999 lab tests performed, including rapid HIV and Hepatitis screening
- 453 diagnostic tests performed, including EKGs, mammograms, ultrasounds, and x-rays
- 119 root canals performed
- $2,300,000 in direct care for underserved and vulnerable populations
- No cost to patients for all clinic related services and products
The Seattle/King County Clinic in 2015
The clinic organizers don’t intend to make this an annual event–we’re all looking forward to the day when it won’t be needed. But the many partners involved felt that hosting the clinic again this year would allow us to build upon last year’s achievements. We aim to care for more people who are in need and help get them connected to local resources and continuity of care. This year, a task force co-chaired by Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, formerly of PHSKC and now Director of the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice, and Christine Lindquist of Washington Healthcare Access Alliance will examine some of the larger questions that have emanated from this initiative and promote conversations about what is needed to make complete and affordable care truly accessible for all people.
Be a part of it
As one of the Public Health staff leading the effort, I’m asking you to consider joining us. This year, the effort will come entirely from our own community (last year we partnered with the national organization Remote Area Medical) and we need 650 volunteers a day to make it work. We need general support volunteers to help with everything from registration to helping people find their way through Seattle Center, as well as healthcare providers and interpreters.
It’s a phenomenal experience. Ninety-nine percent of last year’s volunteers said they would recommend to a colleague or a friend that they try volunteering there, too. And if the numbers don’t speak to you, just look at the faces in these photos from last year. Or try to watch the video without getting a tear in your eye.
All photos by Auston James. To register as a volunteer, go to: http://seattlecenter.org/volunteers.