As the third most populous city in the United States, Chicago is a thriving world-class metropolis known for its architecture and vibrant art scene. While the Windy City is a wonderful place to reside and a popular tourist destination, life is tough for many new immigrants and undocumented workers, and for the more than 10% of the population that survives below the poverty line.
In order to attend to the healthcare needs of these vulnerable populations, Tzu Chi International Medical Association has been offering free clinic hours in low-income neighborhoods, knowing many people lack medical insurance or a legal immigration status; often don’t speak English; and tend to avoid seeking medical attention out of fear of incurring a large bill.
While Tzu Chi Medical Foundation and volunteers from Tzu Chi’s Midwest Region Chapter, which is based in Chicago, yearned to offer a large-scale medical outreach event here, they lacked the requisite manpower, until now.
On August 20, volunteers had a meeting in anticipation of the free medical outreach event that was planned for the next day.
Everyone arrived early on August 21, to prepare everything prior to the start of the free clinic.
Once the clinic opened, 15 doctors from Tzu Chi International Medical Association, and 7 medical students from Illinois Medical School who were there to assist them, provided consultations in specializations that included Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Family Practice, Dermatology, Gynecology, Orthopedics, Dentistry, and traditional Chinese Medicine.
Health education was also offered during the event, during which 96 volunteers served a total of 215 patients over the course of the day. The whole family could benefit from the services offered.
While schools provide routine check-ups for all students at the start of each academic year, families who lack medical insurance can’t afford them. The free clinic brought peace of mind for these parents, since their children finally got a check-up.
There were many touching moments shared between doctors and patients throughout the day, as people voiced their healthcare concerns and found relief for their ailments.
Alas, sometimes the only thing doctors could offer were words of loving encouragement, and that’s what one patient, a former nurse with late stage cancer, received from Oncologist Dr. Wong. She was greatly moved, her spirit lifted despite the painful situation she must endure.