Written by: Pin Hau Chiou
Translated by: H.B. Qin
Edited by: Patrick McShane
In the two years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy of New York has suffered enormously. Between the economic pressures of record-high inflation and the lingering effects of the pandemic, many New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet. These factors have caused many to not receive health care treatments in a timely manner, and have caused more to forgo routine check-ups altogether.
After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Tzu Chi Northeast has again held its annual free health clinic with the goal of serving the community and reducing families’ economic burdens.
This year, a total of 166 volunteers gathered at the Flushing Sheraton Hotel on August 7, 2022, to participate in this annual free clinic. They included 40 medical volunteers and were able to serve 123 people.
Local residents began lining up at the free clinic site early in the morning, hours before the doors opened. This was the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that the large-scale free clinic returned to the Flushing area of New York.
The medical team on hand consisted of physicians specializing in several fields including internal medicine, ophthalmology, dentistry, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. The TIMA physicians participating in the event hoped to help the community and provide comprehensive medical services to the patients who visited the clinic.
Dental and vision care services are not covered by many Americans’ general health insurance. To receive proper dental and vision care, people would either need to buy additional insurance or pay out of pocket for each visit and procedure. That’s why TIMA New York provided dental scaling and basic dental care services as well as optometry and glasses prescription services in the hopes that they would ease the financial burden of comprehensive medical care for members of the community.
Medical volunteers check people’s eyesight by providing optometry and glasses fitting services. Photo/ Xianhong Luo
The free clinic was well received by the public. Tzu Chi medical volunteer Yang Lian said in an interview, “(New York) Mayor’s Office also asked if we (The free clinic) could provide dental scaling, optometry, and glasses fitting services to the local community people as well as the government officials at the City Hall.”
Patients at the scene were grateful for Tzu Chi’s caring medical services, the efficient and comprehensive medical services were able to solve many people’s medical problems.
Bairong Chen, a young Tzu Chi volunteer from Taiwan, is a criminal investigation student who has just come to the U.S. to study and was on hand at the clinic as a volunteer. He said, “I joined the Tzu Chi Youth Association when I was in the police academy in Taiwan, and I am grateful for this opportunity to continue to serve the people in the U.S. Today I am here mainly to help as an interpreter.”
The free clinic, which was interrupted due to the pandemic, has resumed and is again helping people in economically disadvantaged communities meet their medical needs.