JEFFREY PARRISH, DDS, serves as the Dental Director for Seattle/King County Clinic, a 4-day free health clinic at KeyArena for those who need help accessing care. Here he speaks about the value of the clinic in this region.
“Haiti is a very poor country; it doesn’t have a lot of infrastructure, so in terms of going over there to do dentistry, it’s relatively easy. There’s not a whole lot of bureaucracy to deal with. Here, it’s a huge bureaucratic challenge. The bureaucracy is much larger in a place like Seattle. But the essence of it is the same: some person has a need, and some person is able to satisfy that need.
Here, in America, much of it is priorities. People will buy a big screen TV but won’t go to the dentist. Then, there’s a certain segment of the population who can’t take care of themselves. The State of Washington does not have a good safety net for people who absolutely do not have resources, and so the clinic provides a teeny-tiny piece of that safety net. When one takes on a part of the healing arts, one takes on certain responsibilities. You don’t just get to charge everybody you see. You have, in my mind, an obligation to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.” Photo by Auston James.