What was once a one-room clinic run out of the back of a former bar has grown to cover two floors and a wide range of services.
The Pike Place Market clinic started in the 1970s by a grassroots activist who wanted to serve low-income seniors in the downtown corridor, says Clinic Manager Zandra Lee. As the downtown neighborhood has changed, so has the clinic's patient population. Today the clinic serves a diverse adult population, with almost half homeless or at high risk for homelessness. About 10 years ago the clinic became part of Neighborcare Health, which operates most community health centers in Seattle. Even as part of a much larger system, the clinic maintains its focus on the Market neighborhood and the needs of this community.
The clinic also employs a social worker, nutritionist, and health educator on site who run several classes for patients, including a diabetes support group and management class, weight management classes, smoking cessation classes, chronic illness management instruction, cooking classes in the Atrium Kitchen, and more.
"We also have something called Taste of the Market where our nutritionist will bring 15 patients down to the market to try different produce, purchase produce with Market Bucks, and meet vendors," Lee says. "They enjoy learning about different produce they may not have been introduced to, and learning about how to use it."
The clinic's staff are keyed into the unique needs of their patient population, Lee says. "If you were to take a new diabetic who is transient, the disease is probably very poorly managed. At the clinic, they'd see a provider and within a week or two, we'd have them see a nurse to learn to inject insulin, a nutritionist to help them eat well despite being transient and homeless, and a therapist to help with the psycho-social aspect."
That's a different experience than patients who end up at a larger hospital or clinic, where the wait might be as long as a month for these various services.
The clinic also has what they call "Market Privilege," where anyone working in the market can be put on a wait list for a same-day walk-in appointment if they're sick. "It's a one-stop shop to bring wellness to this community," Lee says.