Being a HealthPoint provider is a little unique, both in terms of the rewards and the challenges. It takes a special type of person to thrive in this role—someone who loves problem solving and collaborating and is willing to leap language and other barriers to deliver GREAT CARE for all. It takes an even more special person to do this work for free as a volunteer. It takes an even more special person to do this work for free as a volunteer. Dr. Ling Tan is just that type of very special person. For the past six years, Dr. Tan has volunteered her services as a primary care physician at HealthPoint Bothell.
Many volunteers will show up for a special event or assist at a clinic in preparation for medical school, but it’s rare to find someone who is willing to a.) stick around for the long haul, and b.) donate such a valuable skillset. So, who is this rare, special person and why has she chosen to donate countless hours of high quality, compassionate health care to hundreds of HealthPoint patients? In honor of National Volunteer Week, we asked Dr. Tan to share a bit about herself and the personal and professional journey that led her to volunteering at HealthPoint:
“Growing up in public housing in NY City’s Lower East Side, I came to recognize the importance of neighborhood resource centers in improving lives and elevating communities. This motivated me to work in community health at the outset of my career, starting at Indian Health Service in Montana’s Crow Agency, then Highpoint Clinic (now Neighborcare Health) and later Bothell Community Clinic (now HealthPoint Bothell).
Motherhood changed my priorities and I opted for a flexible work schedule at a privately owned practice. My afternoons were left free for raucous after-school activities and jaunts to the library. When my children matured I became the volunteer book sale coordinator for our local Friends of the Library.
I was vigorously sanitizing and tossing out moldy donations one day and a librarian asked if I was dreaming about having to scrub books to a sparkle. In that moment, I was privately mulling over a thyroid test I needed to order for a patient and strategizing on how best to help a socially isolated depressed veteran trapped in a cycle of debt, alcoholism and ill health. As I mumbled a response I reflected on how the current model of health services often failed many who lived on the margins of society.
Years ago, I had thought that the need for community clinics would vanish once there was enhanced coverage. Instead, these centers are now at the forefront in the fight to preserve a fundamental human right. I also saw the enormity of what still needed to be done when I worked at the annual Seattle King County Free Clinics.
At HealthPoint I am learning to appreciate how the integration of social work, behavioral health and patient advocacy is crucial to achieving optimal wellness and reducing disparities. I am also fortunate to have a dedicated crew at Bothell that is the epitome of positivity, admittedly at times bolstered by food, drink and a hefty dose of sugar.
In my spare time, when I should be studying Spanish, you will instead find me brushing up on geography through philately, dabbling in video projects, trolling the net for fact-based news or enjoying a stroll with my rescue, a chow with no interest in volunteering for even the most menial canine tasks.”
The Bothell Team celebrating Dr. Tan's 5 year volunteering anniversary in 2017.
Are you interested in volunteering? Learn about opportunities and apply on our website: http://www.healthpointchc.org/work-here/volunteer