I was privileged to participate in last week’s 2016 Seattle King County Clinic at Seattle Center on Thursday. There has been much media attention about this clinic (in its third year) and many stories, but here’s mine.
In case you haven’t heard, this is a free clinic from Thursday through Sunday once a year in the fall that takes place at Seattle Center’s Key Arena. Core health services (medical, dental and optical) are provided to anyone who cannot afford care and/or has no insurance coverage. It has grown into a fully integrated clinic with services such as acupuncture, behavioral health and chiropractic care. For more details, visit Seattle/King County Clinic.
When volunteering in any capacity, I am always reminded of basic things too easily taken for granted: I live in a house, have a job I love, have medical, dental and vision coverage – in addition to many other advantages. It is very rewarding to give to the community and I have donated acupuncture treatments around Seattle over 14 years practicing, but I’ve never been involved in something this big, requiring so much team work, cooperation and coordination. I believe much of what makes the clinic work “like a well-oiled machine” (as a good friend and dental patient described it) is that every heart, mind, spirit and body present was focused on one goal: to see that those who came received the help they needed and were treated with compassion, respect and yes, loving kindness.
The clinic is volunteer – from providers, patient escorts, caterers, interpreters, health navigators who helped people research insurance coverage options, to the people setting up the space into a clinic (which served 4,492 people in four days) then restoring it later back into a sports/concert arena. Medical doctors including naturopathic doctors, nurses, dentists and hygienists, behavioral health professionals, acupuncturists, chiropractors and even comfort dogs all worked together to create a huge energetic time and space of healing and give the best possible care to fellow human beings.
What especially made for an inspiring, gratifying day and makes this event an incredible wonder are the people who came (some of whom struggled to travel there), waited for hours Wednesday night in the pouring rain, then sat, stood or slept on hard floors. Then they spent more hours being questioned, interviewed, triaged and sent to one queue or line after another to wait for each healthcare service needed. All this to give us a chance to help improve their health.
Every person I treated was gracious, polite, kind and grateful to be seen and heard that day in spite of long wait times and difficult conditions. Everyone thanked me for my care, wished me well and expressed that their acupuncture treatment helped – they felt better! That is the gift I received and a much greater gift than I could possibly give in return.
I encourage anyone who wants to spend a day or more next year filling yourself with positive energy, to volunteer any service you can and work with others who are ALL on the same page. You will grow a bigger heart than you ever knew you had during those hours at Seattle/King County Clinic because it is one big collective that I will strive to keep with me in my life and in my practice.
Postscript: White noise. The entire main floor of the Key Arena was filled with dental chairs, dentists and hygienists, a soft buzzing sound of drills and voices. Our acupuncture treatment rooms were above and open to this floor and to the sound. The white noise turned out to be soothing and peaceful. A wise patient put it this way, “That is the sound of people helping people.”
About the Writer
With more than 10 years experience practicing Chinese Medicine, Nancy’s special interests include helping you with pain management, fatigue and using acupuncture as an effective adjunct therapy for mental health. She believes in holistic treatment plans that will lead you to a more balanced state of wellness.