The Seattle King County free vision clinic runs on volunteers

Monday, October 31, 2022

By Doug Cerretti

Seattle/King County Clinic (SKCC) brings together healthcare organizations, civic agencies, non-profits, private businesses and volunteers from across the State of Washington to produce a giant free health clinic at Seattle Center. 

The Clinic is a major function of the Seattle Center Foundation. 

The four-day volunteer-driven clinic provides free dental, vision and medical care to anyone in the region who struggles to access and/or afford healthcare. 

Patients waiting for their number to be called.
Photo by Doug Cerretti
After an absence of three years due to the pandemic, SKCC was held October 20 - 23, 2022. 

A complete SKCC was not held due to scheduling conflicts; however a vision clinic was held, offering eye exams and prescription eyeglasses at no cost to patients. 

The day started at 6am for patients to receive numbers (250+ waitlisted each day) at the Fischer Pavilion. 

Exam room. Photo by Doug Cerretti
They then migrated to Exhibition Hall to be seen by an optometrist or ophthalmologist for eye examination and eyeglass prescriptions. 

This was followed by selection and fitting of frames. 

Many eyeglass frames to choose from.
Photo by Doug Cerretti
I volunteered in “eyeglass processing” where we ensured that the eyeglass order forms were entered into the online order system and then verified their accuracy. 

The frames and order forms were packaged for shipping to be fabricated. 

Patients will return to Seattle Center December 3-4 to receive their new eyeglasses. 

This description barely touches the work of volunteers to make this event run smoothly. 

Eyeglass processing; order forms generated on the right and verified on the left.
Photo by Doug Cerretti
There were volunteers to check in the volunteers and patients, escorts and waiting area monitors, interpreters, IT support, patients records processing, supply sorting, health insurance navigators and social workers and last, but not least, the visual medical professionals. 

When all is said and done over a thousand people will receive new eyeglasses with the aid of 1100 volunteers.
2018 dental clinic. Photo by Doug Cerretti
As large as the vision clinic is, the complete SKCC with dental, vision and medical care is four times larger. Over four days approximately 4000 patients are treated with the aid of approximately 4000 volunteers. 

The enormity of the complete SKCC is illustrated by the 118 dental chairs on the floor of the Key Arena in 2018. 

Dental x-ray station. Note the hand-held
X-ray gun on the left. Photo by Doug Cerretti
I volunteered at the dental x-ray station in the last two complete SKCC in 2018 and 2019. 

There I entered the x-ray images into the computer, that the dental technicians had produced using hand held x-ray guns.

The next complete SKCC will be held April 2023. 

Volunteering at SKCC is very satisfying and rewarding and I highly recommend it.

Doug Cerretti with ray-gun. "Buck
Rogers doesn’t have anything
on me." Photo by Carrie Stewart.
The first step is to register as a volunteer at where your experience is noted such as medical, language abilities or computer experience, for example. 

However, there are many volunteer opportunities that do not require specific skills as SKCC simply requires your time. 

As the next SKCC approaches you will be sent schedules and volunteer opportunities.


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