Pop-up free health clinic impacts hundreds

Learn more about this unique two-day ‘pop-up clinic’, which makes a positive impact on the health of outer East Portland residents …

In the gym of Portland Adventist Academy, in the Mill Park neighborhood, doctors, dentists, and optometrists gather to help people who can’t afford health care.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

On a Friday, and again on a Sunday, August 10 and 12, a total of 535 volunteer medical professionals converged on Portland Adventist Academy along SE 92nd Avenue, hosting what they called, “Impact Your Health 2018.”

Adventist Health Portland, with logistical support by from AMEN, and many community partners, offered these free medical clinic days – providing dental care, general medical care, and health education services to uninsured and under-insured people in the Portland metro area.

Ready to help people in need are “Impact Your Health 2018” Clinic Coordinator Brenda Duerksen, and Registration Coordinator Jenny Jin.

“We don’t ask where they live, or how much money they make; we provide these medical services for the homeless, uninsured, under-insured, and those who cannot afford co-pays for these services,” explained Clinic Coordinator Brenda Duerksen.

This being the third year of providing this distinctive clinic in August, the organizers and volunteers had put into practice systems that made it a smoothly-running operation, Duerksen. Said.

More than simply evaluating dental health, clients get fillings – and even crowns – on the spot.

While there are a number of free medical clinics in Portland, Duerksen commented, “this one is really vital – because so many people don’t have dental insurance, or a way to pay for good dental health care.”

Rows of temporary dental operatories were set up where dental assistants and dental hygienists could see patients. “But we’re offering far more than just a brief examination; dentists volunteer their skills so that clients not only receive fillings or get extractions when required, they can also have crowns made for them, right here!” Duerksen told East Portland News.

Keeping patients and volunteers cool and hydrated on a warm August day, by making fruit smoothies by the dozens, are Portland Adventist Academy students Debi Mengis and Connor Grant.

Optometrist Doug Melzer OD of Melzer and Breckenridge PC refracts a patient, during the clinic.

“Very few clinics provide full clinic care,” Duerksen said, walking to the optometric area. “Here, people can get their eyes checked and vision screened; then, if they need new glasses, they can pick out frames – and, their glasses will be made and sent to them.”

Volunteer Connie Stahlnecker provides a foot bath and massage to a client.

In the medical screening area, Dr. Karen “Muffy” Piper speaks with Karen Petersen about health concerns.

During the last two years, over both days of the clinic, the volunteers saw as about 800 patients. “We saw 350 patients on Friday, and are expecting to see many more than that during our Sunday clinic today,” smiled Duerksen.

In addition to the medical professionals, the clinic added a Community Resources Center, where “health insurance and healthcare navigators” provided clients healthcare follow-up information.

“This is a great service they’re providing folks, and getting this haircut is awesome,” exclaimed customer Nicholas Hepziban, while stylist is Derek Thompson with Hands of Favor, a nonprofit haircut ministry organization, worked with him.

While the clinic is organized and by members of the Seventh-day Adventist church, there are no religious qualifications for volunteers nor patients.

“We feel that it is a mandate to serve others who are not as blessed as us,” explained Duerksen. “Paraphrasing Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 25:40, ‘… whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’; we see those who come here as brothers and sisters we haven’t met before. It’s the love of Jesus Christ that compels us to do this.”

As these volunteers finished the second of their two clinic days, the they looked exhausted, but pleased – they’d “impacted the health” of hundreds of people.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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