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Free one-day health clinic aims to help uninsured

Compassion Tigard returns to Tigard High this Saturday


by: FILE PHOTO - Families can receive free dental, medical, vision and chiropractic examinations as well as physical therapy and podiatry, haircuts and social services during Saturdays event.Hundreds of people are expected to line up outside Tigard High School early Saturday morning for the fourth annual Compassion Tigard health clinic.

Designed to help low-income families receive the care they need, the free one-day clinic brings local healthcare providers together in one place. For many it’s the only access to basic healthcare they will receive all year.

“It’s a unique thing,” said Justin Peterson, associate pastor at Colossae Church in Tigard.

At Saturday’s event, families can receive dental, medical, vision and chiropractic examinations as well as physical therapy and podiatry. Free haircuts will be available for anyone, as well as social services, free lunches and childcare.

The clinic will be handing out free vouchers for glasses, TriMet bus passes, diapers and other services.

Peterson helped found the clinic four years ago, and said it was important to add more dental healthcare professionals to the clinic this year.

“Dental is always the issue,” Peterson said. “They seem to need that more than medical.”

At a Glance

What: Compassion Tigard health clinic

Where: Tigard High School, 9000 S.W. Durham Road

When: Saturday, Oct. 12, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., lines start to form at about 4 a.m.

How much: Free, first come, first served.

More info: compassiontigard.com or call 503-603-1585

Lunch and childcare are provided.

Wake-up call

Patients hoping to get healthcare services on Saturday will have to wake up early for the clinic, which works on a first-come, first-served basis and often draws people from Beaverton, Hillsboro, Portland and Forest Grove.

“We see a huge line of people forming at 3 or 4 or 5 a.m.,” said Catherine West, who runs the Tigard-Tualatin School District’s Family Resource Center. “Last year, one family tried to camp out the night before. They desperately wanted dental care.”

The clinic takes over much of the school, converting classrooms into makeshift exam rooms.

Justin Marostica, a dentist at TenderCare Dental on Southwest Pacific Highway, said the event is a special way to connect with people all across the area.

“People who otherwise would never make it into a dental office, because of fear, financial worries or personal insecurities can now receive the care and attention they need,” Marostica said.

At the Family Resource Center, West said this clinic is more important to the community than ever before, after the closing of Essential Health Clinic earlier this year, and the Washington County Health Services’ clinic last week.

The two organizations provided medical services to the uninsured out of an office on Royalty Parkway off Pacific Highway.

Without those organizations, many of the medically underserved have few options, West said.

“We are so grateful and pleased (Compassion Tigard) is here,” she said. “They take over most of the high school and provide amazing services, and so many different types of services.”

Invisible problem

Last year, the clinic provided more than 470 people with exams, but Peterson said those numbers don’t take into account everyone who received help.

“That doesn’t include families that get immunizations, or who came for a haircut or lunch,” he said.

The clinic fed more than 1,100 people at last year’s event alone, and Peterson expects to serve at least that many again this year.

“We are expecting that to increase quite a bit this year,” he said.

The clinic is not offering CPR training or flu shots, West said, but flu shots will be available at Rolling Hills Community Church in Tualatin on Oct. 14 and Oct. 20.

Sponsored by the local faith community, Compassion partners with the school district to provide the one-day clinic each year.

“For us, it’s our way of loving and serving our community,” Peterson said. “There is a lot of need that gets overlooked because we are out in the suburbs. It’s an invisible problem.”

The first year Peterson put on the clinic, he wasn’t sure who would turn out.

But patients turned out by the hundreds, hoping for an eye exam, or to have a tooth removed.

“We were a bit overwhelmed,” he said.

It takes about 400 volunteers to run the Compassion Tigard clinic every year.




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