Tzu Chi’s Medical Outreach Returns to Santa Ana, California

National Headquarters  |  December 16, 2022
Tzu Chi volunteers collaborate with medical volunteers to provide Santa Ana, California, residents comprehensive medical services on October 9, 2022. Photo/Junxiang Huang

Written by Yi Fan Lam
Chinese Edited by Jiali Liu
Translated by Ariel Chan
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska

On October 9, 2022, Tzu Chi volunteers in Orange County, Southern California, returned to Santa Ana to offer medical outreach at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Ana. After a three-year disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the first time they could provide free medical services again. The outreach event  included Western and Traditional Chinese medicine and dentistry services. 

The medical team provided dental care according to pre-set appointments to shorten patients’ wait times. A negative result on rapid COVID-19 tests administered on-site was also mandated before doctors would consult and treat patients, reducing the risk of infection. Additionally, second-hand clothing, shoes, and toys were available for families to pick from and take home.

Second-hand clothing is available for the taking at the medical outreach event. Photo/Junxiang Huang
Children attending the outreach event can pick from and take second-hand toys prepared by Tzu Chi volunteers. Photo/Junxiang Huang

A Valued Partnership That Benefits Those in Need

Dentist Jiehao Jiang, a Tzu Chi medical volunteer, inherited the task of organizing and preparing medical outreach in Orange County from Dr. Fu-Ming Chen. He diligently held six preparatory meetings with fellow volunteers to review every detail before the October 9 event carefully. Dr. Jiang shared that since 2013, Tzu Chi has held three annual medical outreach events in Santa Ana in collaboration with the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Ana. Although this medical outreach program was interrupted for two years due to the pandemic, it can now resume again..

We can hold free clinics again this year. We hope that as the pandemic alleviates, we can once again hold three medical outreaches annually. We chose Santa Ana as our venue due to the higher demand from the large Hispanic population here. We’re also grateful to the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Ana for offering the venue.

Volunteers register patients at the medical outreach event. Photo/Junxiang Huang
Volunteer dentists treat patients during the medical outreach on October 9. Photo/Marilyn Ho

Boys & Girls Clubs of America aim “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” As a long-term organizer collaborating with Tzu Chi on medical outreach, Lupita Mena, Director of Family Strengthening at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Orange Coast, was on hand to express the organization’s gratitude.

Thanks, Tzu Chi, for working with us for over five years and providing community medical outreach three times a year, offering Western medicine, acupuncture, optometry, and dentistry. Many Santa Ana residents lack medical insurance or have difficulty obtaining some uninsured medical resources such as optometry and dentistry. Due to the pandemic, we couldn’t provide these wonderful services to community residents throughout this period and could only resume medical services as recently as last month.

Uninsured, underinsured, and disadvantaged Santa Ana residents greatly appreciate the free medical outreach offered by Tzu Chi, so the community welcomed the resumption of this program. And, on October 9, some residents benefited from this charge-free health care for the first time. Patient Misael Quiroz and his wife brought their two children for dentistry services. The kids picked out toys from the ones the volunteers had prepared for care recipients coming that day and played with them merrily while the family waited to see a dentist.

This is my first dentist appointment here, and I invited others to come along, which makes me feel especially joyful about this experience. Thank you, Tzu Chi, for blessing our community!

Several Generations of Volunteers Serving Together

Not only professional medical workers served during the event. Sixteen Tzu Chi Collegiate Association members from the University of California, Irvine, came to help. Professor Yingjiao Cao from California State University Fullerton also brought ten bilingual volunteers, current students or recent graduates, to serve this predominantly Hispanic community by offering translation services.

Spanish-speaking Paul Bisho has been volunteering with professor Cao for over six years. Even after graduating from California State University, Fullerton, he is still interested in social service and has become even more committed. “I speak Spanish, so professor Yingjiao invited me to translate here. I’m very happy with the task as well as being able to hear patients’ stories,” he said, “and I’m happy Tzu Chi has returned [here], so I could come back to help.”

Tzu Chi volunteers of different ages gather to contribute their collective effort during the medical outreach event. Photo/Marilyn Ho

Christopher Tan, a Tzu Chi Collegiate Association (TCCA) member from the University of California, Irvine, found his first medical outreach experience quite educational. “I’m a freshman majoring in Biomedical Engineering. I learned a lot of useful knowledge about choosing a specialization from six doctors during their downtime. Even if I had to wake up before dawn, this was still an extremely valuable experience,” he explained. Volunteering also brought joy.

Being able to help those in need and seeing their smile feels great.

Senior Tzu Chi volunteers instruct Tzu Chi Collegiate Association and community volunteers who came to serve that day. Photo/Marilyn Ho

Another TCCA member from the University of California, Irvine, Jason Lin, shared, “Today I was able to support the free clinic with another 15 volunteers. Although this is unrelated to my field, it was still really interesting. I was in charge of bringing patients from the doctor to the pharmacy and took the opportunity to brush up on my Spanish.”

After three years, Tzu Chi medical outreach returned to Santa Ana, relieving patients’ medical care needs and bringing together several generations of volunteers eager to serve the community. Uninsured, underinsured, and disadvantaged families may struggle to obtain medical care they can’t afford. Yet with our help, they won’t be left behind regarding relief from pain and protection of their health. Your love and support empower all our medical missions.

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