Cultivating Good Health for All
The World of Tzu Chi | May 12, 2017 by National Headquarters
Supporting good health for all is our mission, and we serve underprivileged families and communities, helping people get the health care they need for free if they qualify or at a minimal cost. Between 1993 and the start of 2016, we offered medical services to 551,176 individuals. Our services are provided through permanent and mobile clinics, at community outreach events, and in affiliation with community health programs.
We operate seven mobile clinics that offer comprehensive medical, dental, vision, and cancer screening services to low-income uninsured or underinsured patients and those who lack access to ongoing medical care. Our three dental, two vision, one medical, and one prostate cancer screening mobile clinics primarily serve underprivileged families, migrant farm workers, the homeless, uninsured students, and others with barriers to medical care throughout California.
These services are especially vital for the homeless, who suffer greatly due to a lack of basic medical, dental and vision care, and have little hope of relief. They are also essential for underserved and disadvantaged children, whose success in school and future may be compromised due to undiagnosed vision problems for instance. The free glasses our vision mobile clinics provide help put these children on the path to achieving their full potential.
From January to October 2016, our mobile outreach helped 10,217 people, providing medical care for 4,678, dental care for 2,145, vision care for 2,056, glasses for 891, and acupuncture and chiropractic care for 447.
Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA)
Our medical outreach depends on the dedication of medical professional and logistical volunteers from TIMA, without whom none of the free medical, dental, and vision care services we offer would be possible. TIMA began offering community medical outreach events in Southern California in 1994, serving those affected by disasters and low-income populations. Their ability to provide these events has grown steadily since then.
In 2016, TIMA held 118 events in Southern California, accommodating 3,497 patient visits. The reach of TIMA’s community medical outreach events extends to Central and Northern California as well, where they have been providing free medical services to migrant workers and low-income families since 2003. In 2016, TIMA held 143 outreach events in Central and Northern California, serving 3,517 patients. TIMA’s USA branch also provides free health care services beyond California. In 2016, they held 285 medical outreach events, reaching 23,723 patient counts.
The reach of TIMA USA’s love and care does not stop in the U.S. either, and has been felt internationally too. Partnering with local volunteer doctors and dentists, and local government agencies, they have provided medical outreach in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Peru, El Salvador, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Honduras, and Haiti.
Maintaining good health demands awareness and in many cases, community support. We provide several public education and community support programs to address these ongoing needs in the communities we serve.
Our Chronic Metabolic Disease Management Program aims to enhance participants’ metabolic health, to help them live longer with a better quality of life. It began as a Diabetes Management Program in 2014, then expanded to patients with hypertension, high cholesterol, and hyperglycemia as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle.
The goal of our Cancer Awareness and Detection Program is to save lives, since cancer has replaced heart disease as the leading cause of death in 22 states. The program was launched in 2016 to promote awareness of cancer prevention and early detection, and to promote a healthy lifestyle in order to reduce the chances of having cancer.
Since less than 3 percent of Americans meet the basic qualifications for a healthy lifestyle, we offer Health Education classes and outreach. The classes began in 2016, and cover chronic diseases, osteoporosis, myocardial infarction, mental health, respiratory diseases, menopause, eye diseases, arthritis, medication, dental care and more.
Our Dialysis Support Group began in 2005, and serves as a platform to provide dialysis information, for patients to share their experience, and to support patients’ families within the Chinese community in Northern California. Due to the high demand, we are developing another Dialysis Support Group in Southern California.
Beginning in 2017, our Healthy Employee Program provides health education classes to employees of participating businesses. Our healthcare professionals provide stretching exercises, healthy diet information, and stress management techniques. We are actively building more partnership with businesses interested in maintaining employee health.
Our first permanent free clinic was established in Alhambra, California, in 1993. Today, we operate four permanent clinics, three in California - in Alhambra, South El Monte, and Wilmington - and one in Hawaii.
Tzu Chi Medical Foundation runs the clinics, and provides a wide range of services that include primary medical and vision services, dental care, acupuncture, mental health services, and community health programs.
In California, in the first 24 years of service, the three clinics accommodated 440,017 patient visits. Our goal is to become a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and to expand beyond Southern California, and establish new permanent clinics in Central and Northern California.