For the fourth year in a row, the Seattle/King County Clinic will repurpose KeyArena into something that in looks and scale resembles an emergency response after a natural disaster. But as former Stranger art critic Jen Graves once put it, the disaster is wholly unnatural: "This time, the disaster is the American health care system,' she wrote.
The first-come, first-serve clinic, which offers everything from dental care to vision to pap smears, is 100 percent free and open to everyone, no ID or proof of immigration status required. Interpreters will be there, too. Last year, the project served nearly 4,500 people, 52 percent of whom were renters, and 38 percent of whom were unemployed. In 2016, 47 percent of those served at the clinic didn't have health insurance, and 18 percent of people who received care at the clinic said it had been more than five years since they had seen a dentist, or never had seen a dentist at all.
Many of the people who participated in last year's clinic said they came because they had tried to get treatment at community health centers elsewhere, but had been deterred by the costs involved. Even though hospitals are required to have charity care policies by law, they often fail to provide that option to low-income patients, who are then struck with obscene medical bills.
This year's clinic will take place between Thursday, October 26 and Sunday, October 29. Tickets for admission are distributed starting at 5 AM in the Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center (2nd Ave North and Thomas Street), which opens at 12:30 AM tomorrow night. There's free parking at the Mercer Street Garage at 650 3rd Ave North and the 1st Ave Garage at 220 1st Ave North. Clinic organizers advise bringing food, drinks, and medications for a long day ahead. For more information on attending, click here. For volunteering, here.