Gateway: Living

Community members continue to support free clinic on Key Peninsula

Dr. William Roes of the Key Medical Center in Key Center is hailed to the crowd as “the Father of the Key Free Clinic” during a fundraiser event for the clinic last week in Gig Harbor. Clinic board member Penny Gazabat, center, looks on.
Dr. William Roes of the Key Medical Center in Key Center is hailed to the crowd as “the Father of the Key Free Clinic” during a fundraiser event for the clinic last week in Gig Harbor. Clinic board member Penny Gazabat, center, looks on. Special to the Gateway

An enthusiastic group of 70 people attended the Key Free Clinic summer fundraiser Aug. 6 at the Gig Harbor home of doctors Nathan and Jessica Schlicher. Music was provided by Band 302, and revelers enjoyed extensive hors d’oeuvres, desserts and the volunteer service of expert bartender Sherod Mitchell. Carla Cameron managed the silent auction.

Clinic board president Chuck West, a battalion chief with Key Peninsula Fire, officiated and encouraged attendees to open their hearts and wallets. Describing him as the “father figure” of the clinic, West had Dr. William Roes of Key Medical Center thank those “who make this clinic possible.”

“The Key Free Clinic serves a critical need in our community to help those without insurance and without access to the medical care they need,” Dr. Nathan Schlicher said. “We’ve helped kids get school physicals to get to play in school sports, diagnosed cancers that led to live saving treatment, treated uncontrolled blood pressure, helped folks quit smoking to improve their COPD, and much more. The clinic is a lifeline for those who are medically lost in our community — it is critical to so many. We cannot do these things without community support. While all the providers donate their time, we still have to pay rent, help ensure a safe environment, and help with prescriptions.”

Early on, clinic board member Jud Morris, waving his contribution to the cause, a personal check for $500, “menacingly” admonished the gathering that, “I used to be from Chicago, so you really don’t want to disappoint me. Please give what you can, you really don’t want to disappoint the people in need of health care on the Key Peninsula.” The crowd exploded with laughter.

“The clinic provides a critical link in making sure our neighbors can access medical care when they need it,” Dr. Jessica Schlicher said. “Despite the affordable care act, many of our neighbors still do not have medical insurance or cannot travel to reach care.”

The free clinic has been open since 2012 and now is open the second and fourth Thursday of every month.

“We have been very busy treating everything from asthma and high blood pressure to providing sports physicals,” she said.

For this reason, starting in October, the clinic is expanding to have a free clinic every Thursday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. for a six-month trial to see if there is a certain level of need.

“We want to get the word out to the community so that everyone knows that there is a neighborhood doctor at the clinic available to help every Thursday,” she added.

“I want to thank everyone who is contributing to keep this vital service going for our community,” West said. “Working in the emergency services side of things, I often see people who could avoid using the ambulance if they had access to basic medical care. Even with Obama Care many families still don’t have medical insurance or adequate medical insurance. What we are doing helps to fill that gap for those desperately in need.

The address for donations and an online PayPal account is on the Key Free Clinic website, which makes it easy to contribute, he said.

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