AMEN Tacoma Meets Community Medical Needs
Melody was diagnosed with a brain tumor back in July. She had had cancer previously, it had gone into remission, and then it came back. She started a treatment plan first with radiation and then with plans for chemotherapy.
She went to visit her oncologist, who ended up not being willing to sign off on Melody’s chemo treatment because she had an infected tooth. She told her medical provider she didn’t have dental insurance and couldn’t afford treatment out of pocket.
The oncologist listened and then picked up a flyer. “Here’s a free clinic coming to our community that you should take advantage of," the provider said.
Melody came to the two-day, pop-up mobile AMEN (Adventist Medical Evangelism Network) Clinic in Tacoma, held in November 2017. There, dentists volunteering their time and expertise took care of her needs.
“Melody was so overwhelmed with gratitude for the clinic,” says Amanda Sanders, a Tacoma Central Church Bible worker who was part of the AMEN chaplain team. “Not only did Melody receive clinic services, she also brought her son who needed dental care too.”
The two women ended up talking for a solid 30 minutes. “To hear someone be so positive and praising God for answered prayers, it was really encouraging,” Sanders says. “We were able to pray together, and I invited her to future events at Tacoma Central.”
Meeting a Need
Visionaries associated with AMEN Tacoma saw a need to assist underinsured and uninsured citizens in the community.
“Despite the recent rollout of the Affordable Care Act, there are still 40 million Americans without health insurance and 100 million without dental coverage,” says Nelson Miles, AMEN Tacoma spokesman. “We don’t have to travel overseas to find a need when there’s a mission field in our own backyard.”
So how does this all work? AMEN Clinic brings dental, medical and optical equipment and sets up a temporary mobile clinic at a community location such as the Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound.
For the two days of the clinic, 627 patients came from the greater Tacoma area and received services on a walk-in basis (first come, first served). The dental clinic was staffed with dentists, hygienists and dental assistants. The vision team included optometric physicians, opticians, and trained assistants. The medical clinic was staffed with medical doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners as well as registered nurses for the medical clearance area. General skilled (nonmedical) volunteers helped with registration, cleaning, crowd control, visiting with patients and much more.
“Every AMEN free clinic is made possible by the compassion and love of our volunteers,” says Miles. “From setup to tear down, from the first patient to the last, nothing could happen without the sacrifice of our volunteers and sponsors.”
The next AMEN Clinic in western Washington will be held in Everett on April 20 and 22, 2018. Interested in volunteering? Sign up at www.ameneverett.org.