Church-sponsored medical clinics help hundreds

See why again, this year, area churches hosted medical clinics in outer East Portland, open to any and all, without charge…

Here at the Portland Adventist Academy, in the Mill Park neighborhood just east of Interstate 205, the second annual “Impact your Health Clinic” is under way.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

For the second summer in two years, Portland area Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) churches put on a free “Impact your Health Clinic” on Friday, August 18 and Sunday August 20 at Portland Adventist Academy.

At the two-day, first-come-first-served clinic, open to all, the 1,200 people who came received basic health screening, vision testing, dental care – and more.

Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church Lead Pastor Jonathan Russell spends a moment with the Clinic Director, Nurse Practitioner Jenny Jin.

“To put on these clinics, we partner with Adventist Medical Evangelism Network (AMEN), an organization based in Northern California that brings a semi truck filled with dental equipment and vision screening equipment,” remarked the event’s host Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church Lead Pastor Jonathan Russell.

Judging from the long lines of patients queuing up outside the school gymnasium doors both mornings, Russell mused that there must definitely be pent-up demand for these services being provided by some 550 volunteers.

During “clinic” days, the school’s gymnasium is transformed into a medical clinic, staffed with medical and dental professionals using modern equipment.

“My ‘job’ during the clinics is to be available to listen to the stories of people who come here to be served,” Russell told East Portland News.

“Every person to whom I’ve listened has told me they’ve needed medical care – from those who say they’re living in their cars, to those in pretty good jobs that are falling through the cracks of our medical care system because – while they do have medical care insurance – they don’t have dental or vision insurance,” Russell said. “So yes, these clinics fill an important need.”

A volunteer records blood pressure and blood sugar readings for a client visiting the clinic.

Clinic visitor Mark Harris gets a free hair makeover from volunteer hairdresser is TJ Sheets, owner of Define’d Lines Salon, in Gresham.

One of the things that was most surprising to the volunteers, the pastor said, is how much the “extra services” provided during the clinics means to their participants.

“In the hallway we have volunteers who wash and massage our clients’ feet, and then they give them a pair of brand-new socks,” Russell pointed out.

To help clients relax while waiting for clinic services, George Fox University Physical Therapy student Shanna Howland gives massages.

“The interaction has been very meaningful, both for the volunteers who provide the service, and the guests who receive it – giving them an ‘instant connection’ – as our guests are shown that they are valued enough to have their feet washed!

“The sense of value this invests in people who been discouraged or discarded! They may not have felt like they’re worth anything – and all of a sudden people want to wash their feet and give them socks,” Russell said.

Checking a lens blank about to be ground for eyeglasses is Teresa Navarro, a technician with Better Vision Better Hope.

New this year, the AMEN crew brought an eyeglass lens-grinding unit. “So, in addition to having their eyes checked and measured, most common prescriptions can be made right here, on site,” Russell explained. “We’ll make as many as 100 pairs of glasses during the clinic, fit them in stylish frames, and the client will leave with new correctly-prescribed glasses.

“The catalyst for all of this was the Rock Fellowship, a second-generation Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church that wanted to make this happen,” Russell acknowledged.

In addition to the Sunnyside SDA church, located mere blocks away in the Mill Park neighborhood on SE Market Street, the nearby Adventist Medical Center also supports the event, as well as volunteers from a dozen other metropolitan Portland Seventh-day Adventist churches, and the Oregon Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

For families with kids heading back to school, volunteers Sarah Paik, Shannon Erickson, and Karen Patterson display some of the 500 sets of school supplies later given to families.

“As Seventh-day Adventists we do this, because it’s important for us to demonstrate to the community that we care, not just talk about it,” Russell said.

“A client seemed surprised that Christians would offer a clinic like this, free of charge, and free of proselytizing or obligation of any kind – to any one who walks through our doors,” said Russell. “It’s important to us, as a community of faith who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, to take time and effort to demonstrate our love for people who right here in outer East Portland.”

As the clinic wound down to a close, Russell said they’re already making plans to hold their third “Impact your Health Clinic” next summer.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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