In an effort to help care for the underserved communities surrounding Seattle, the Seattle/King County Clinic provided health screenings in KeyArena at Seattle Center this past fall. The 14,000-seat arena, which normally hosts concerts and sporting events, was converted into a massive free health clinic that offered dental, vision and medical care to the underserved and vulnerable populations in the region. The clinic supported 117 dental chairs, 58 medical treatment rooms and 14 vision lanes.
The volunteer-driven clinic was staffed by health care professionals, ranging from doctors and dentists to massage therapists and social workers. Over the course of four days, more than 3,800 volunteers participated to care for over 4,000 patients. Thanks to the support of these volunteers, and donations from organizations such as Henry Schein Cares, the clinic was able to provide $3.5 million in services.
Patient admission was a day-of, first-come, first-served process. Once admitted, depending on their needs, patients received dental x-rays, cleanings, fillings, extractions, root canals, crowns or temporary partial teeth (flippers). In medical, they had access to flu and Tdap vaccines, physical exams, women’s health exams, and nutrition or pharmacy counseling among many other services. In vision, patients could receive complete dilated eye exams and, as required, get readers or prescription eyeglasses. Social work and health insurance assistance was also available to all patients.
The outcome was best expressed by a patient and a volunteer:
“This clinic has been a life-changing experience. Living on the streets I had given up on humanity. Being at the clinic restored my faith in the good in people. Instead of avoiding me and pretending like I don’t exist, people look me in the eye, they talk and listen to me. No one has acted like they don’t have time for me. People smile at me. I feel like a human being again.” – 2015 Patient
“Thanks for making this available. Working this event was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had in my 40-plus years as a nurse.” – 2015 Volunteer