Essential Care, Post-Pandemic: Tzu Chi Mid-Atlantic Holds Annual Health Fair

Mid-Atlantic  |  September 30, 2022
TCM medical volunteers check the patient's pulse
TCM medical volunteers check the patient's pulse. Photo / Jixin Chen

Written by Shaozhen Liu
Edited by Jiali Liu and Maggie Morgan
Translated by Ariel Chan

Clinic Makes Post-Pandemic Comeback

After a three-year hiatus, the Annual Health Fair was finally returning to serve communities in need. Doctors of different disciplines volunteered their time and expertise to give much-needed medical attention to patients. Several specialties joined to form a well-rounded list: internal medicine, cardiology, family medicine, ophthalmology, natural medical neurology, ENT, nutrition, dentistry, and Traditional Chinese medicine. Additional services like colon cancer screenings, flu vaccinations, health insurance assistance, and other medical attendance helped better the health of 71 people at the event.

 An added bonus for those in attendance was the participation of the TIMA ophthalmology mobile clinic rolling in from New York; the service includes the necessary equipment for visual exams and glasses fittings, allowing patients the opportunity to have improved vision right on site. Dentistry equipment helps providers offer cleanings and diagnoses. Chinese medicine practitioners offer pulse consultation and acupuncture treatment. Karen Lin, a family medicine physician from Rober Wood Johnson University Hospital, guided hands-on learning for 16 medical students as they served in various departments.

 Dr. Karen Lin shared, “Many people have not gone to see a doctor because of the pandemic for more than two years. Today’s event tries to protect the health of the participants with their safety prioritized. I am grateful to the volunteers for their hard work.”

Jessica Estriplet is a parent of a student at Tzu Chi Academy NNJ, and she is also a pharmacist. She and her husband, who is also a pharmacist, provided medical services to uninsured patients in Philadelphia. Today, she joined the event for observation and commented on how well-managed the event was. 

Grace Liu, a naturopathic nutritionist, grew up in Tzu Chi from Tzu Shao to Tzu Ching. Grace was deeply moved by the event saying, “I left New Jersey for a while because of my studies and work, and I came back again. I have many thoughts and memories, and I am grateful to be back home! Because of my study at Tzu Chi, my choice of major has changed. Currently, I am a naturopathic nutritionist, and I hope to share what I have learned. People are busy with their lives, and it is very important to take it slow when needed!”

Optometric medical volunteers examine patients' eyes.
Optometric medical volunteers examine patients' eyes. Photo / Wankang Wang

The Evolution of Love: From Recipient to Volunteer

Sandra Quiahua is a recipient of Tzu Chi’s Food Pantry. Without insurance, it has been difficult for Sandra to get consistent medical care. After she learned that Tzu Chi Mid-Atlantic Region would be holding the Health Fair, she brought along her eldest son and youngest daughter to make it a family affair. Sandra’s daughter had just come from Mexico, riding a bus all the way to her final destination of the Tzu Chi Mid-Atlantic Region. Sandra wasn’t aware of the pre-registration requirements and didn’t have the opportunity to schedule her dentist appointment. Every slot had been accounted for, and it appeared the family of three wouldn’t receive the treatment they had looked forward to. 

As with many serendipitous situations at our events, a volunteer came through right away. Ada Cortez, from Costa Rica, had previously been a Tzu Chi recipient and then decided to volunteer herself. She learned about the family’s situation, and after some last-minute coordination, Ada was able to get Sandra and her children in to see the dentist.

 Sandra was blown away and expressed her deep gratitude to the volunteers: “I came from Montclair. We knew we could receive dental treatment when we were picking vegetables on the weekend, so we came here! We came early by bus. 3 weeks ago we received a message about this community health fair. Thank you very much for your help, and thank you very much for your organization, because of your help, we have a good time.”

Ada, the miracle-worker volunteer, said: “I am very happy to be here to help people, and I am honored to be able to help people through words! I am very grateful! When I think of the help I received as a new arriver from Costa Rica, to now becoming a giver from a taker, mutually assisting other people of the community, I feel very grateful.”

Volunteers carefully prepared and held a meeting
Volunteers carefully prepared and held a meeting in advance to discuss the details of the event. Photo / Shaozhen Liu
Ophthalmology volunteers from New York exchanged experiences with New Jersey ophthalmology volunteers. Photo / Shaozhen Liu

New York Ophthalmologists Guide the Way for New Jersey Opening

Ophthalmology department volunteers must go through rigorous training before they are able to help patients. The TIMA ophthalmology system in New York has established itself over many years, making them a reliable and experienced team. Professionals from New York offered their support to the New Jersey ophthalmologists to lend their experience in how the program can progress.

 New York ophthalmologist James Chuang said, “This is my first visit to New Jersey, and I hope New Jersey’s ophthalmology department can thrive even more than New York.”

 Steven Voon said, “From the perspective of Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, we hope to provide services to the public in post-pandemic times. There are many people in New Jersey who need medical care. This time, I came to train medical volunteers and ophthalmologists so that we could better support the Daai Ophthalmology mobile clinic in New York.”

New York was ahead of us for over 20 years, and now it has reached the stage of diagnosis and treatment. We hope to learn from each other in the future and hope that New Jersey can take another step forward in the medical career, so that New York and New Jersey can integrate and help each other.

Dr. Richard Yang of the New York’s TIMA said: “We are a family regardless of the east or west coasts. This is the first free ophthalmology clinic. I hope to sow the seeds of kindness and hope that New Jersey will have a good start, and ophthalmology will kick start this year. “

 Kevin Tang said, “I am a parent of a student here and have participated in this before. Today, I brought my mother to see an ophthalmologist and Chinese medicine practitioner to check for her presbyopia.”

CEO Doris Chang concluded, “Today’s Health Fair is the direction for the future, which requires combining charity and medical care. Love in the community needs to integrate both volunteers and New Jersey physicians. TIMA Ophthalmology is the first attempt. We don’t have any experience, so by taking advantage of the experience of the ophthalmology mobile clinic, we will become more powerful within the community in the future and learn the health needs of the community. Thanks to the doctors and volunteers in New Jersey, the New York team, and the support from the Headquarter’s Medical Foundation, today has been a successful day of service. We are also learning a lot from it and will continue to adapt to both the internal and external visions we have for our Community Health Fair.”

Volunteers from both sides of the Strait gathered together
Volunteers from both sides of the Strait gathered together to contribute to the Health Fair. Photo / Shuchao Liao
After the event, the volunteers took a group photo.
After the event, the volunteers took a group photo. Photo / Shuchao Liao

Volunteers definitely had their work cut out for them with a busy schedule full of patients, but human warmth and empathy led the way for each appointment. Doris Chang, CEO of Tzu Chi Mid-Atlantic Region, thanked everyone for their support: the seasoned New York teams for their wisdom, the selfless dedication of doctors from New Jersey who used their Sunday to serve others, and the volunteers who paved the way for tomorrow with medical volunteer training. Careful planning was the key ingredient for the success and seamlessness of the event. 


We have the ability to make communities healthier today while planning for an even better tomorrow. Our volunteers lead with enthusiasm, attention to detail, and patient-first care. Tzu Chi Medical’s mission is to offer individuals a quality treatment that benefits the mind, body, and soul. Carefully selected teams and a variety of specialties work in harmony to offer a holistic and compassionate approach to relieving suffering. Human connection is as essential to healing as elite medical treatment, and TIMA will continue to innovate to provide services for communities in need.

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