People with medical needs — or even someone with a medical question — will have an easier time getting those needs met and questions answered, thanks to the dedication of a number of medical professionals working at the Key Free Clinic located in the Key Peninsula Health Center in Key Center.
The clinic is expanding its days of operation from two times a month to weekly in October. Dr. Jessica Schlicher, who volunteers at the clinic and serves as its volunteer medical director, said the need in the community is growing — and the clinic is growing to meet that need.
“We see everything from arthritis, asthma, diabetes, blood pressure, sports physicals — all kinds of interesting problems from people who haven’t had medical care for a long time,” she said.
Schlicher also serves as the volunteer medical director, making sure the other volunteer doctors and nurses have up-to-date credentials, as well as recruiting new volunteers. Although the clinic’s volunteer list is lengthy, she said there is a core group of about eight doctors and five nurses who help see the majority of the patients.
Medical malpractice insurance is provided for free by the state for the doctors and nurses who volunteer their services.
The clinic is the brainchild of Dr. William Roes, who, with the help of his long-time practice manager Carla Cameron, got it started at KP Community Services in Lakebay. Within its first three months of operation, the once-a-month clinic expanded to two Thursdays a month to better serve the number of people coming in.
Now the clinic is expanding its hours to 5:30 to 8 p.m. every Thursday, on a first-come, first-served basis “so everyone in the community can have access to a friendly neighborhood doctor,” Schlicher said. There is no income requirement for patients.
It takes a budget of about $12,000 a year to keep the clinic open and Schlicher said the goal is to have about one year in reserve to help keep it stable. She said thanks to Project Access in Tacoma, St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor that donated X-ray services and Costless Pharmacy that donates to the clinic and provides cost-effective medications, they can continue to provide free primary medical care to anyone who walks in the door.
She and her husband, Nathan, an ER doctor at St. Joseph Hospital in Tacoma, recently hosted a major fundraiser with 70 people at their home and raised $7,400 for the clinic. There was live music, food and a silent auction. The couple also started an online donation campaign and shared it with people they knew and brought in $1,000 prior to the fundraising event. She said this was the first major fundraising effort for the clinic and they plan to do it again next summer.
Schlicher, who works at Harrison Urgent Care in Port Orchard, takes her work seriously.
Need a checkup?
Key Free Clinic will be open weekly, 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays, beginning in October. Current hours are 5:30 to 8 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday of each month. The clinic is located at 8903 Key Peninsula Highway, KP N, in the Key Professional Building, next to the library, in Key Center.
To donate, send to Key Free Clinic, P.O. Box 1095, Vaughn, WA 98394 or visit keyfreeclinic.org.
“The idea a child can’t play sports because their family can’t afford a sports physical makes me sick,” she said. “It takes me five minutes to do.
“Jud Morris (a member of the clinic’s board of directors) told me he has three rules in his life: No kid goes hungry; every kid is warm; and every kid has a Christmas, and that’s how he lives his life — it gives purpose to his life. That’s what it really stands for,” Schlicher said.
“A doctor who had worked his or her entire life in the medical field and still wants to serve people but on a part-time basis, can do so at the clinic. It’s a huge blessing in their life to come here and continue to have a purpose,” she said.
She did note that it takes some volunteers a bit of time to how they operate at the clinic.
“A new doctor asked me, ‘How long do you want me to spend with a patient?’ I said ‘As long as it takes,’” she said.