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University of Washington School of Public Health

SPH Volunteers Join Thousands to Deliver Inclusive Care at Seattle Free Clinic

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Photos © Auston James
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Patient counts were up at this year’s Seattle/King County Clinic, which served nearly 4,500 of the city’s most vulnerable people. For the third year, in late October, Seattle Center became a giant, walk-in clinic where patients received free medical, dental, vision and mental health care—regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.

“This event made health more equitable,” said Giannina Ferrara, an undergraduate public health major who volunteered during the four-day clinic. “It provided health screenings to patients who couldn’t afford it otherwise.”

Among the thousands of medical professionals and volunteers were more than 50 SPH students, faculty and staff. They registered patients, distributed free meals and translated for non-English speakers.

"Many families in our community struggle with food insecurity," noted Shadae Paul, a graduate student in the Department of Global Health, who helped with food service. "This meaningful experience allowed our campus community to serve vulnerable populations in our area."

A major focus of the Seattle/King County Clinic is being able to serve the largest, most diverse group of people possible.

“What we strive to create here is the most respectful culture we can,” said Deborah Doust, director of communications for the Seattle Center Foundation, which coordinates the volunteer-driven clinic, as quoted by KCTS 9. “Good health is essential for a healthy community.”

The two medical directors of the clinic, Norman Beauchamp and Angelissa Paladin, are UW School of Medicine faculty members. This is the second year that they worked to help organize and execute the clinic. According to The Whole U, more than 320 volunteers total from the UW community served at the free clinic. 

Seattle/King County Clinic statistics:

  • Total patients - 4,492
  • Total value of services - $3.94 million
  • Total volunteers during the four clinic days – 3,947
  • Dental - 2,485 patients; $2.06 million
  • Medical - 2,830 patients (2,115 if you exclude those whose only medical service was immunizations); $1.24 million
  • Vision - 1,373 patients; $642,000

(Story by Ikhra Mohamed)

2016 Photos © Auston James