By Angela Shen
Northwest Asian Weekly
The Seattle King County Clinic at KeyArena held a free clinic for the public from Oct. 27 through Oct. 30, for the third year in a row, including free dental, vision, and medical care. Spokesman Raymond Kusumi said the clinic helped 4,492 people in need this year, 482 more than last year.
Felix Lara-blanto, a college sophomore, said he joined the line with his parents at 4 a.m. “This is a great deal for those who don’t have the resources to get dental and vision screenings on a frequent basis.” Lara-blanto said he not only got his eyes checked, he got a pair of prescription glasses for free. “I brought a blanket with me, like other patients who came early. I even saw some people bring in their camping gear.”
David Dawson, a young contractor, and his girlfriend, Mirian Delven, a warehouse worker, waited in line together. Dawson said, “Regular medical care costs too much, I can’t afford it. That’s why my girlfriend and I were so excited when we heard about this event.” Dawson wanted to get his teeth checked and he brought a folding chair with him, because he knew the lines would be long.
“This is my first time here, I think the 6-hour wait is worth it, and I will definitely come next year.” Delven wanted to get a vision check and she brought her old glasses, hoping this would save the doctor some time. Delven said, “I think the clinic is a great thing for our community, we really appreciate their hard work and kindness.”
Kenny Hempel, a 45-year-old retired veteran, said that he came to the clinic two years ago for a free dental check and it was a blessing. “The dentist helped me get rid of my bad teeth and deep cleaned the rest of the good ones, which relieved me of a toothache.” Hempel said, “I came back this year and was hoping to get a pair of glasses. I’m really excited because I can finally see clearly.” Hempel said he took an hour-long bus ride to get to the clinic and the line wasn’t as long as he imagined.
Although the lobby of KeyArena was full, things were orderly. When asked how the clinic managed this many patients, Kusumi said, “People usually line up from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. the night before, and we will house them at Fisher Pavilion, where there are rows and rows of chairs for them to sit.” Kusumi said that after midnight, volunteers distributed color-coded tickets depending on the type of care patients were seeking, and it was on a first-come, first-served basis.
“After the basic check-in, patients went to the triage area to answer questions about their medical issue. Then they would be assigned to the appropriate clinic,” said Kusumi.
Translators in red shirts were on hand to help those with limited English skills. Katty Tseng, a Taiwan native and recent graduate of the University of Washington, helped to translate from Mandarin to English. “This is a great experience and a wonderful opportunity for all, no discrimination, all races are welcomed,” Tseng said. “I met a lot of amazing people.
Everyone was kind and helpful.” Tseng said all people she helped were patient. No one seemed to be upset by the long waiting times or the language barrier. “They were all very satisfied with the service and really grateful,” Tseng added.
Angela can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.