Final numbers show that the massive one-day free medical clinic held at the Tacoma Dome featured the highest turnout of volunteers the National Association of Free Clinics (NAFC) has ever had for a C.A.R.E. (Communities Are Responding Everyday) Clinic. More than 1,400 physicians, dentists and other medical and non-medical volunteers provided about 1,500 uninsured Washington residents with free health care and information about medical resources available in their communities.
“The large number of local residents willing to give their time to assist their neighbors allowed us to see 1,500 patients in just one day,” NAFC Executive Director Nicole Lamoureux said. “But for the NAFC, this day was bittersweet, showing that volunteerism is alive and well in America, while again proving that although historical health care reform legislation has been passed, many hard-working Americans still do not have access to affordable health care.”
During the clinic on April 30, the Tacoma Dome was transformed into the largest doctor’s office in the country for the day with 81 exam rooms, as well as dental, optical, counseling and educational services. The NAFC and the Washington Free Clinic Association (WFCA) sponsored the clinic with additional support from: RxOutreach, United Concordia, Swedish Medical Center, Washington State Dental Association, Cascade Dental Northwest, and Providence Health & Services.
“I am proud of the way that so many volunteers throughout the state as well as from throughout the country pulled together to make this C.A.R.E. Clinic such a success,” WFCA Executive Director Katie Rains said. “It was overwhelming to see how many people need our services in the area. This clinic wasn’t used as a Band-Aid but as the first step in connecting uninsured residents with local resources for ongoing health care.”
About 13 percent of Washington’s residents are uninsured, so there is a great need for free health care, much as there is throughout the country. Many patients at the clinic had not seen doctors for a number of years.
“Since September 2009, these C.A.R.E. Clinics have served almost 13,000 uninsured Americans through the efforts of almost 12,000 volunteers,” Lamoureux said. “For many uninsured, these clinics are their first introduction to the services provided every day by free clinics and other safety-net providers. It is our hope that donations will continue to allow us to hold more of these clinics around the country.”
This was the 10th massive C.A.R.E. Clinic the NAFC has sponsored. Similar clinics have been held in Houston, New Orleans (twice), Kansas City, Little Rock, Hartford, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Washington, D.C.
More information about the NAFC and how to donate to ensure the continuance of the C.A.R.E. Clinic events is available online at: http://freeclinics.us. More information about the Washington Free Clinic Association is available online at: http://www.wafreeclinics.org/.