University of Washington students organize medical care for Tent City 4

December 27, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

The community often donates clothing and food to Tent City 4, and a group of University of Washington public health graduate students is organizing medical care for the homeless encampment’s residents.

Tent City 4 settled in the Community Church of Issaquah parking lot in late October. The encampment — home to up to 100 homeless adults — is due to remain on the site until Jan. 21 before relocating to a Kirkland church.

The students plan to offer the medical care Jan. 14 and, in the meantime, continue to seek donations of medical supplies, and doctors and nurses as volunteers.

How to help

University of Washington public health graduate students organized a medical care day for Tent City 4 residents Jan. 14. Email to learn more or to schedule a donation. Organizers need the following items:

  • Ear, nose and throat scope kit
  • Blood pressure cuff
  • Thermometers
  • Loaner exam table
  • Gloves
  • Mayo stand
  • Sani-Cloth
  • Rolling chair or stool
  • Scopettes
  • Cottonballs
  • Band-Aids
  • 1x1s, 2x2s, 4x4s
  • Tongue blades
  • Alcohol preps
  • Paper sheets and gowns
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Baby wipes
  • Glucometer supplies

“I want to see everybody at Tent City who needs some kind of medical attention get it that day,” UW public health student Angie Wood said.

The medical outreach comes after Issaquah-based International Smile Power and local dentists teamed up last month to offer dental care to Tent City 4 residents.

“It’s really wonderful to see the community come together and give people what they need,” Wood said.

Such programs offer residents in Issaquah and other cities a chance to meet and learn about Tent City 4 residents.

“It’s really impressive and inspiring to see people taking on that much,” Wood said. “It was really wonderful getting to know people. They’re so open to talking with the community.”

Wood, alongside students Ashraf Amlani, Patricia Atwater and Barbara Obena, organized the event to foster links between the UW and the community.

“We knew that the UW has a lot of resources in the area of experts and a lot of medical expertise, so I thought that was probably doable,” Wood said.

Organizers said the date chosen for the medical event is deliberate. Hectic days precede the encampment’s relocation to another house of worship.

“We put it specifically on that date to give us enough time to put together as many services as we could and leave time for their move,” Wood said.

The students praised Tent City 4 and Tent City 3 — a Seattle counterpart to the Eastside encampment — for attracting attention to homelessness and offering a resource to people in need.

“It improves visibility without increasing stigma, which I think is fantastic,” Atwater said.

The campsite features 24-hour security. Organizers conduct warrant and convicted sex offender checks on potential Tent City 4 residents, and do not admit offenders. The camp bans alcohol, drugs and guns from the premises.

Most residents depart the encampment during the day and head to jobs or to search for employment.

“It clears up a lot of misconceptions about who is in tent cities,” Amlani said. “That was one of the most eye-opening experiences for me when I first went and visited Tent City.”

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