As an in-person assister at Federal Way’s Cornerstone Medical Services clinic, Lauren Tran helps people sign up for Washington healthcare.
“We are here to help anyone who needs help getting health insurance,” Tran said. “Whether he/she or a family qualifies for free insurance (Apple Health) or paid insurance (Quality Healthcare Plan – QHP), we can help. We are here especially for those who don’t understand the website and just want a little reassurance that they are enrolling correctly.”
The clinic started offering free services in 2009. It is now a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization committed to providing comprehensive primary care to members of the community who are uninsured and/or medically underserved. The clinic caters to clients seeking help with English and specializes in Korean and Vietnamese.
“We do all we can to help people understand what is available to them and connect them to the right services,” Tran said.
The clinic is promoting their Affordable Care Act open enrollment period. Those who are above the Medicaid income level have until Feb. 15 to enroll or change plans.
Patients can apply for health insurance and compare plans directly by going to wahealthplanfinder.org. Cornerstone Medical Services are available to assist patients for free, by appointment on Wednesdays.
It is this dedication to patients that brought Tran to Cornerstone.
“I was looking for a way to volunteer and really make an impact in the community and somehow was introduced to Cornerstone,” Tran recalled. “I had hoped to volunteer in the clinic by helping doctors with whatever they needed, which in my experience, was getting equipment ready for them and helping them stay organized with their paperwork and patients.”
Tran said working as an in-person assister at Cornerstone has opened her eyes.
“I understand that the Washington Healthplan Finder website has a lot of kinks in it and signing up and finding a healthcare plan to choose from is not simple,” she said. “That’s why I think it’s so great that Cornerstone has such a focus on helping those with limited English (mainly Korean and Vietnamese clientele) sign up for healthcare. However, I know that it is a complicated process to a lot of people and want the community to know that this is a completely free service and that we will try our hardest to help anybody who comes in, despite language barriers.”
On the first day of the clinic in June 2008, there were two doctors and four patients. Since then, 24 volunteer healthcare professionals from a broad range of disciplines (conventional medicine, nursing, chiropractic, naturopathic medicine and east Asian medical practice) have seen an average of 65 patients every clinic day.
The clinic has been open regularly on the first and the third Saturdays of each month since the first opening in 2008. They serve more than 1,000 patients per year and are in the process of expanding their services.
The clinic pursues a multidisciplinary and integrated approach, offering diverse practices in the fields of allopathy (traditional medicine), naturopathy, east Asian medicine and chiropractic.
The clinic relocated from Renton to Federal Way in 2012. For the first time, the clinic rented 1,000 square feet just for the Cornerstone use only.
In August, the clinic held a “sports physical” outreach for high school students in Federal Way and Lynnwood. There are now around 16 providers, eight nurses and 26 administrative volunteers.
Tran says it’s the people in her office and her clients that make her enjoy her job.
“The gratitude that I’ve seen from some clients is something that I wasn’t expecting,” she said. “Once these clients give us all their information, and we help them make an informative decision on what plans would best suit them and their family, it’s like a huge weight has been lifted. It’s a great thing to see how secure and safe people feel once enrolled in healthcare.”
To make an appointment, call 253-252-2095.
For more information, visit www.cmsclinic.org.