SEATTLE — The free health clinic hosted at Seattle Center is likely not going to happen this year due to scheduling conflicts by Climate Pledge Area and its management, The Oak View Group.
Doctors were told the clinic, which was tentatively scheduled for October is likely getting pushed to April 2023. Climate Pledge said because of the pandemic only tentative dates had been set for the clinic, not formally reserved and other concerts were booked for the weekend starting October 20, 2022.
“When we got the news that we weren’t going to be able to hold a clinic this fall it was total shock and frankly devastation,” said Karen Hays the women, transgender and nonbinary exam lead for the Seattle/King County Clinic.
For many, the Seattle/King County Clinic is the only opportunity for dental, vision and medical care. The weekend is a huge undertaking. It typically serves upwards of 3,000 people. Data from 2020 says 51.6 percent of people who visited the clinic were uninsured.
The clinic brings in thousands of volunteers to help perform dozens of services. According to The Seattle Center Foundation’s website, the clinic has helped 23,000 people and provided $20 million in services since it began in 2014.
“It’s the most fulfilling thing,” said Hays.
Since 2014 the event has been hosted inside Key Arena, now Climate Pledge Arena. The clinic has been on a pandemic hiatus since February 2020.
According to Climate Pledge’s website Zac Brown Band and The Who are scheduled to play at the venue that weekend.
“The fact that they’re playing there means that close to 4,000 people aren’t going to get healthcare this year,” said Hays. “I don’t know, if I were those band members I would want to know that.”
The clinic’s director, Doctor Rick Arnold has started a petition to save the 2022 clinic.
“As somebody who cares deeply about the clinic, I just I feel like they’ve taken advantage of people who have very little voice,” said Arnold about the Oak View Group and Climate Pledge Arena.
In a statement from Climate Pledge Arena, the venue said it’s committed to continuing the event.
“Oak View Group and Climate Pledge Arena are steadfast in their commitment and obligation to the community and the clinic. We understand that this is an event which is cherished by the local community. Covid-19 presented challenges in the normal planning of the clinic and we have been working hard with our partners at Seattle Center to find suitable dates. We are pleased the Vision Clinic will go ahead this year and we are working on dates for the full clinic in 2023 and 2024.”
The vision clinic will be hosted at the Seattle Center with eye exams and prescription eyeglasses from October 20 – 23, 2022, provided pandemic conditions allow. The venue expects to serve around 1,000 people at the clinic.
Seattle Center said the Seattle/King County Clinic was also offered the Kraken Community Iceplex for the October weekend but said it wouldn’t work logistically.
The doctors argue their show, the Seattle/King County Clinic, should go on in 2022.
“My impression is they have a commitment to the whole community,” said Hays.
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