Free Health Clinic Offers Alternative Medicine

8/2/2008 Fresno, CA, USA Kaiser Permanente doctors and nurses teamed up with the Buddhist Tzu Chi organization to offer health screenings, dental exams, and even some alternative therapy.

Yolanda Amador tried acupuncture out for the first time in order to alleviate pain in her shoulder, elbow, and knee. The alternative therapy was just one of the health services offered to the public at the Cesar Chavez Adult Education Center Saturday. To Amador's surprise, it seemed to work. "I think was very pain, but no feel pain. It's good because I feel better," said Amador.

The Tzu Chi organization, which provides free health services for people with low incomes, says the therapy is growing in popularity among the valley's Hispanic community. "Most of them are the migrant worker because of the hand work and the legs, squatting down back and forth, work on the farm," said Tzu Chi's Steven Voon.

In addition to the acupuncture, people also got health screenings, dental services and even haircuts Saturday. Doctors say high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity are among the main health issues facing the valley, where many can't afford preventative care.

While the focus is on promoting awareness and disease prevention, some of the people who lined up to see doctors also had other ailments in mind. "People also come with very specific things they want us to check. They've been having problems with their breathing, or with their back or with their shoulder, or abdominal pain," said Dr. Linda Pauls, a Kaiser Permanente physician.

Teddy bears also got check-ups Saturday. Kaiser nurses acted as teddy bear practitioners, giving kids a bear, and then asking questions about the bear's health. "The teddy bear practitioner will ask them 'What does your bear like to do during the summer? Do they eat fruits and vegetables?' We ask them about the bear but in reality the kids are thinking about, 'what do I do?' Because it's them they're talking about it and they don't even realize it," said Tere Williams, a R.N. with Kaiser.

Kaiser awarded the Tzu Chi organization an $86,000 grant in order to put on these free health clinics throughout the year. The next clinic will be at Rowell elementary school on September 13th.


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