Tzu Chi USA’s Chicago Chinatown Service Center Resumes Free Clinic Services

Midwest  |  August 16, 2022
Tzu Chi USA Midwest Region holds a free medical clinic on May 28 at the Chicago Chinatown Service Center. Photo/Junzhi Lin

Written by Junzhi Lin, Yoo-da Lee, Chongfu Xie
Translated by Hong (Ariel) Chan
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska

We’re doing our annual medical outreach event at our Chicago Chinatown office. It’s been two and a half years where we couldn’t open such events to the public so it’s our first time opening up a big event since COVID.

On May 28, 2022, during the Memorial Day weekend, Tzu Chi USA Midwest Region’s Chicago Chinatown Service Center held its first free clinic since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with everyone glad to resume providing medical services and health consultations to people in Chinatown. Given that the pandemic is ongoing, and the number of infection cases in Illinois was increasing on average by 5,000 per day, all Tzu Chi volunteers and patients were required to undergo rapid COVID-19 testing before entering the site to ensure public safety.

All patients must undergo rapid COVID-19 testing before entering the free clinic site to ensure everyone's safety and health. Photo/Junzhi Lin
Tzu Chi volunteers, all of whom also took a rapid COVID-19 test beforehand, help all who come to the clinic get tested too. Photo/Junzhi Lin

There are many uninsured low-income households as well as seniors living in Chicago’s Chinatown. Even before the pandemic, going to the hospital had been inconvenient for many residents. Now, more people are reluctant to go to the hospital for medical treatment. Therefore, Tzu Chi volunteers must brave difficulties and take precautions to provide free clinics and health consultations for those in need.

Many of the people who come to the clinic are elderly. Photo/Junzhi Lin

In addition to 29 Tzu Chi volunteers, 17 students from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine also served during the free event, and one of them explained the care people coming to the clinic would receive:

Basically, they can come here, get some of their vitals measured, and then have a free consultation with one of our three doctors; we have an internal medicine physician, a nutritionist, and a physical therapist today.

Volunteers help take patients’ vitals. Photo/Zhongfu Xie
Everyone earnestly and patiently provides care to those in need. Photo/Junzhi Lin

Nutritionist Sharon Hsiao expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to serve patients one-on-one that day, helping answer questions, reminding them to see a doctor if need be, and more:

I hope to adjust their concept about diet, that eating more vegetables is better for their health.

And people kept coming for consultation, many of them unable to visit the hospital for medical treatment for reasons such as a lack of medical insurance, language barriers, or the risk of infection during a pandemic. Moreover, “many passers-by were curious about what we were doing. After learning more about it, they were very interested,” Tzu Chi volunteer Nydia Kung said. “I think we’re serving a lot of people who don’t have health insurance,” she assessed.

Tzu Chi’s lasting presence and service in the community also have an impact.

Everyone has known Tzu Chi for many years and trusts Tzu Chi very much. We hope to provide continuous and long-term care to people in the Chicago area.

Tzu Chi USA Midwest Region’s Chicago Chinatown Service Center awaits a permit to start renovations. It plans to dedicate one floor to providing free medical services. Tzu Chi volunteer Huey Shann Sue said, “We hope to recruit more doctors and medical students to join us. We also hope to spread the word to the public about the services we’ll provide here in the future.”

Tzu Chi USA Midwest Region’s Chicago Chinatown Service Center aims to provide continuous and long-term medical services. Photo/Zhongfu Xie

Love and care through donations from people worldwide make Tzu Chi’s aid possible. Let’s support and assist the most vulnerable close to home and beyond. Together, we can do more.

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