It all started after viewing a news story about a health clinic at a state fairground in another state.
That gave Seattle Center Productions director John Merner and a co-worker the idea that it could be done right here in Seattle.
Now in its fifth year, the Seattle/King County Health Clinic is happening today at the Key Arena in Seattle, through Sunday and growing stronger every year.
“Oh, it’s successful in so many ways that we anticipated and didn’t anticipate. Four thousand people who have needs will get it served here over the next few days. We’ve created a system where people who want to help others can just plug in and walk in the door and do it,” explains Merner, the clinic's co-founder.
The need is great and takes about as many healthcare professionals and volunteers as the patients they see.
Professionals like Karri Amundson from the ARCORA Foundation’s Smile Mobile, parked inside the arena specifically for more intense treatments.
“There’s a huge need for adult dental care as well as for family members,” said Amundson. She also points out the disparity between health care and dental care and how insurance like Medicare separates the two.
“I don’t know when the mouth got separated from the rest of the body, but it’s really important to have good oral health care so that you can have a healthy body," Amundson said.
Endodontics resident from UW School of Dentistry, Dr. Kyle Countryman is volunteering inside the Smile Mobile. He says he’s genuinely impressed with the set-up for patient care.
“Some of them have just been waiting and waiting for weeks or months to see us. We provide root canal treatment so, patients who sometimes have been having dental pain for a long time, we’re able to alleviate that pain with root canal treatment,” said Dr. Countryman.
John Merner sums up nicely what all of this means. “I think that you can measure a society by how they care for their less fortunate. And I think that this clinic lifts us up a little bit as a society.”