By the end of the two-day Life Hope Centers health clinic this weekend at Adventist Health Tulare, more than 350 patients had received free health-care services, including vision checks, dental treatments and basic health screenings.
A small but mighty army of volunteer doctors, optometrists, dentists and technicians saw patients under a massive tent on the hospital’s west parking lot. Inside was a full dental clinic with six treatment chairs and two exam chairs, three vision screening stations and eight blood-pressure checkpoints for patients with little access to health care. Other free screenings included body composition and carotid artery ultrasounds.
Most patients left with at least one basic need fully met – perhaps a vision screening and an order for a free pair of glasses, or relief from a troublesome tooth – and with the knowledge that the community is working together to help them stay healthy.
The Life Hope Centers clinics are a humanitarian service of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Central California. Events such as this are done in partnership with local community organizations and in Tulare that list included the Family Health Care Network, Altura Centers for Health, South Valley Vascular Associates, the Tulare Hospital Foundation and Threads of Love.
More than 225 Adventist Health employees and community supporters wore bright yellow volunteer t-shirts and performed basic screenings, helped register patients, escorted them to the various stations, provided demonstrations, and passed out water to patients and providers.
Ken Pierson, a dentist at Happy Bear Surgery Center in Tulare, said he volunteered to be part of an important outreach effort. He performed cleanings, extractions and fillings during his shift.
“There’s a lot of need out there and just being able to help and encourage and support this is very important to me,” he said.
The clinic setup took several days and represented an investment of a half-million dollars in equipment, supplies and materials, according to Dr. Ed Urbina who helped bring the Life Hope Centers event to the Tulare hospital.
“This event is unique and requires a partner like Adventist Health that looks beyond the walls of the hospital to be able to meet the needs of the community,” he said.
Urbina said that medical professionals appreciate the opportunity to participate in this type of event because the focus is solely on caring for patients.
“When they leave, they are often overwhelmed because most of the time we exceeded their expectations of what they could accomplish,” he said. “This is a first-class operating clinic that is here to serve patients.”
Ed Ammon, Adventist Health’s Mission Integration Executive for the Central California Region, said this free clinic to Tulare’s underserved population is a commitment to the community in general.
“We’d like to do several of these around our region each year and I’d like to do this annually here in Tulare,” he said.