Day 49 [NYC] Free For All

MEDICAL SERVICES DON’T COME CHEAP IN THE LAND OF THE FREE, and for those without insurance, it can be almost too pricey to be true. This is why the New York Tzu Chi Association provides free clinic to all twice a year, allowing those without insurance a chance to see a doctor.

I have been to free clinics both in Malaysia and Taiwan, but I never imagined it held in a hotel, let alone in a five star Sheraton Hotel. The hotel lobby was transformed into a registration area while the whole second floor was converted into consultation areas and tables were set up for blood pressure checks. More than twenty specialties with doctors from private practice and medical centers are here for their service. Everything is free here, but the services are anything but cheap.

I decided to come back from Albany for this free clinic partly because I wish to see how it differs from what we do in Taiwan. But from what I see, it is not that different, and with a majority of Asian patients, it even LOOKS similar to a free clinic in Taiwan. My classmate, Chuan-Hung came all the way from Boston to meet and thank Hui-Ru Shigu, who helped her in the application of her clerkship in Harvard. There was not much for us to do, and so I ended up chatting with various other volunteers and with Chuan-Hung entire morning.

We did take many pictures with the volunteers that I would say goodbye to this week, such as the cute old lady, Chun-Zi Shigu, who is a dedicated mum to a son with bipolar disorder; and Qiu-Ju Shigu, who is a happy-go-lucky person and a helpful friend always. I bid goodbye to most of the wonderful people I met here, and they all gave me a lot of good wishes and ‘take care’s. I hope to remember them forever as kind people that helped made my stay here memorable and truly unforgettable.

Not many things come for free… But many free ones, such as love and dedication, are absolutely priceless.

*** Explanation about the uniform ***

I did bring my Tzu Ching uniform here, but in the pictures, you may find me wearing common clothes instead of the uniform. The fact is, me and Justin should leave New Jersey early in the morning, and arrive in Flushing before the preparation of the activity starts. But what happened is, even with the GPS system, we spent more than an hour lost in Jersey and I could not get back to my homestay’s house in time for my uniform. And that is why I pretended to be a simple and happy volunteer. Moral of the story: Don’t ever believe the GPS.

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