Board of Directors
Frank DeSalvo, PhD
Gloria Mittelstadt, RN
Shelley Stratton, RN, E-RYT
Carl Weber, MD
Rose Gibbs, RN
Kathi Gunn, ARNP
Chronic Healthcare Clinic
Welcome Back to Board Members
Sequim Free Clinic is proud to announce two new members to our Board of Directors. Both have served on the board in the past and have come back to help enhance our future. Eric Lewis, served as the former CEO of Olympic Medical Center and currently is the CFO of Washington State Hospital Association. Eric served on our board for nine years. John Beitzel, retired VP of Eastern Region Exploration for ARCO Oil & Gas, was instrumental in the development of the clinic from it’s infancy. Both of these gentlemen are pillars of this community and are committed to the health of it’s citizens.
Easy and Effective Ways to Improve Your Balance
By Barb Paschal,
retired Physical Therapist, author, artist, veteran, tutor
Do you notice your BALANCE becoming less dependable? Is it just a matter of aging? NO! Is there something you can do to improve your Balance without pills? Is there something that we can do easily, EFFECTIVELY and painlessly?
You bet! It is called DYNAMIC BALANCE PRACTICE and anyone at any age can do it. You can even make it fun! We all have such potential. The human body is an amazingly resilient improvable entity!
*KEYS TO IMPROVEMENT:
1) TO GET MORE MUSCLES AND BEST REACTION TIME lace up or Velcro up your “inside” shoes (no fuzzy slippers nor flip flops) and practice inside your house. Rain and wind and night darkness will not be factors, and therefore everyday, all day practice is possible.
2) BE AWARE OF YOUR BEST POSTURE/CORE ALIGNMENT IN ALL EXERCISES
3) 4 TIMES A DAY …Or more often if you can! For 5-10 minutes at a time >> Walk forward and backward and sideways to each side 5-10 steps each direction as vigorously as you can! Alternate directions and mix it up! Let your arms swing out as you move joyfully!
4) GET BALANCE MUSCLES STRONGER by practicing slowly and gracefully getting in and out of “straight”/non-rocking/firm chair until you can do this without using your hands/arms to help.
myWalgreens Donation Program
We’re participating in the myWalgreens donation program! You can donate your myWalgreens cash rewards to Dungeness Valley Health & Wellness Clinic thru 08/31/21. At Walgreens, you’ll earn unlimited 1% Walgreens Cash rewards when you shop and you can choose how much to donate. It’s that easy. Whether you’d like to contribute $1, $5, or more of your Walgreens Cash rewards you’ll be making a big difference. It really adds up!
We are in our 7th year of our organic gardening program, Get Growing! The objective of this program is to engage participants within the community that may have diabetes, pre-diabetes and/or hypertension to experience how to plant and grow their own organic food and improve overall lifestyle choices. Patty Lebowitz, volunteer and clinic board member leads the group in maintaining the plots. This year has been a bumper crop for Garlic as pictured below. Other cool crops include a variety of lettuce, spinach, radishes, peas, carrots, beets, and tomatoes just to name a few. Get Growing will continue through the end of September.
Clinic nears 20 year milestone
It’s true. Sequim’s free Clinic marks its twentieth year of service to the community on October 15 this year!
As the anniversary date draws near, it is a time for reflection.
We are proud to be a part of this remarkable community and grateful for the tremendous support we receive from individuals and businesses in Sequim. While we have chosen not to hold our annual Fun Walk and Health Fair this year, we are planning a celebration for friends, volunteers, medical providers, and other Clinic supporters. We will be sharing more details in the near future.
A time for reflection
While we review significant highlights of the Clinic’s history, we cannot help but reflect upon the many friends — individuals and businesses — who have supported the Clinic throughout the years.
If you’re reading this newsletter, you may feel personally connected to Sequim’s Free Clinic, and it’s likely that you have contributed to its evolution in some way, either as a volunteer, a donor, a client, or a friend.
You may not realize it, but your support is literally life-saving for many of the men and women who come to us seeking care for acute and chronic illnesses.
That makes you a vital part of our story.
We need your stories, ideas
We’re collecting stories and pictures, trying to piece together a community history of our free Clinic and of the people who helped along the way. We’d like to hear about your connection to the Clinic and what drew you to support its work.
Submit your story and ideas by email to:
call Sara Nicholls 360-582-2976.
We want to take this opportunity to express our appreciation for your support, friendship, and your belief in our vision.
Clinic Director’s Report
By Rose Gibbs, RN, MHA/MPA
We are almost half way through this “recovery” year of 2021. Things are still not back to normal; however, normalcy of sorts is slowing returning to our community. Thank you to our clients, community members and clinic volunteers who have received the vaccines which allows us to interact with greater safety. We continue to screen anyone who comes into the clinic. When this can be stopped is not clear at this time. There will be a new “normal”.
The expectation that there would be a flood of new clients, due to job loss and corresponding insurance loss, has not been realized. The volume has been low, but slowly growing. People are cautious about coming to clinics of any kind.
The cleaning of the clinic, physical distancing, screening of all clients and volunteer staff and so forth have complied with Public Health guidelines. Several of our generous volunteers have been instrumental in supporting the Clallam County Department of Health and their efforts in the distribution of vaccines over the last few months.
The new Nurse Practitioner, Kathi Gunn, has established herself as the leader of our Chronic Healthcare Clinic. Volume has been fairly stable. We have gained a few who no longer have employer insurance. Others have joined us because they are new to the area and have been unsuccessful in obtaining a primary care provider. We are pleased to be here as a health care safety net for our community.
This year The Sequim Free Clinic will celebrate 20 years of service to our community. We continue to survive and thrive and remain in demand. Without community and individual support, we would not be here. The generosity of this community has been outstanding. Every effort is being made to follow guidelines and provide a safe environment for all clinic participants. Thank you to everyone who continues to support us during these unusual times. Unicorns and rainbows are unlikely, but the continued contribution to a healthier community remains our goal. Keep those positive thoughts flowing.
Please join me in acknowledging one of our outstanding volunteers. John Joseph, ARNP has gone above and beyond his role as a Volunteer Provider, especially during this past year. We are very fortunate to have his support. He joined our clinic in January of 2016. John brought an amazing desire to serve, assist, troubleshoot and support our clients and the mission of this clinic. His experience and connections with veterans have been an added bonus. When one of our providers have to cancel a shift, even at the last minute, he is “Johnny” on the spot. His responsiveness and flexibility have made him an extremely valuable resource.
John often uses his personal time and connections to research referral potentials for some of our complex clients who require specialty help not located on the Olympic Peninsula. He shares the contact information after reaching out to other facilities and individual practitioners. As the Clinic Director, I greatly appreciate this assistance which enables the necessary connections to support the desired referrals.
At the end of last year, while we were recruiting for a Nurse Practitioner to replace Larry Germain, ARNP, John willingly volunteered to cover the Chronic Healthcare Clinic for over two months. This allowed for the continued management of our clients without interruption while we recruited for a replacement. Since that time, he has continued to volunteer for double shifts each month in our evening clinic.
Along with John is a bonus, his service dog, Snickers. Our clients and volunteers are very happy to have this addition to the clinic—mellow and comforting. The Sequim Free Clinic is very grateful for the support and expertise of this generous volunteer provider. You help to make us successful. Thank you.
Do Medications Really Expire?
By Dr. Carl Weber
Volunteer Medical Director Sequim Free Clinic
The expiration dates on jugs of milk and cartons of yogurt alerts the consumer when a product might go bad, but that is not always true with the labels on prescription drugs. The term “expiration date” is a misnomer. The dates on drug labels are simply the point up to which the Food and Drug Administration and pharmaceutical companies guarantee their effectiveness. However, the FDA regularly tests meds in federal stockpiles and about 90% remain potent for many years past their printed expiration date (Prescriber’s Letter. 2020; June:360614). The dates do not necessarily mean they are ineffective immediately after they “expire” — just that there is no incentive for drug makers to study whether they could still be usable.
Be reassured that there are not any medications known to be toxic just because they have reached the expiration date. On the other hand, a possible decline in potency can be a concern with some meds...including antiepileptics, contraceptives, or insulin. Prudent practice reinforces that the consumer should follow labeled expiration dates for these products. As a precaution, replacement of these “rescue” meds...epinephrine, naloxone, nitroglycerin, etc. should be done before they expire.
The expiration date on drugs was required by law in the United States, beginning in 1979. The expiration date assigned to a medication by the manufacturer is not the date after which it has "gone bad" or safe to use. It is the date after which the manufacturer guarantees the 90% potency and safety of the drug per FDA standards via a "stability" test. Most pharmaceutical manufacturers choose two to three years after the date of manufacture as the expiration date.
Hospitals across the country throw away drugs costing about $800 million per year. And that does not include expired drugs thrown away at long-term care pharmacies, retail pharmacies and from consumer medicine cabinets. Refining our prescription drug dating process could save billions. In fact, the federal government has saved a fortune by doing this. For decades, the federal government has stockpiled massive stashes of medication, antidotes and vaccines in secure locations throughout the country. The drugs are worth tens of billions of dollars and would provide a first line of defense in case of a large-scale emergency.
Once a drug is launched, the makers run tests to ensure it continues to be effective up to its labeled expiration date. Since they are not required to check beyond it, most do not. Pharmacists and researchers say there is no economic “win” for drug companies to investigate further. They ring up more sales when medications are tossed as “expired” by hospitals, retail pharmacies and consumers despite retaining their safety and effectiveness.
Federal and state laws prohibit pharmacists from dispensing expired drugs and The Joint Commission, which accredits thousands of health care organizations, requires facilities to remove expired medications from their supply. It is an open secret among medical professionals that many medications maintain their ability to combat ailments well after their labels say they do not.
On rare occasions, a pharmaceutical company will extend the expiration dates of its own products because of shortages. That is what happened in June 2017, when the FDA posted extended expiration dates from Pfizer for batches of its injectable atropine, dextrose, epinephrine and sodium bicarbonate. The agency notice included the lot numbers of the batches being extended and added six months to a year to their expiration dates.
The Shelf Life Extension Program (SLEP), has found that drugs can stay safe and effective long after the manufacturer's expiration date if properly stored in the original container. All medicines should be stored in a cool and dark place, as direct sunlight and heat can damage their effectiveness. Be aware of labeled expiration dates. It is unlikely in today’s climate that extensions will be issued through the manufacturers or the FDA. Be assured that a few weeks or even a couple of months after “expiration” does not make the medication ineffective.
Time for a Broader View of Health
Over the past six years of our existence as a non-profit in Clallam County, the Olympic Peninsula Healthy Community Coalition’s (OPHCC) focus has been on decreasing chronic disease rates amongst our citizens. Collaborating together with our over 75 partners from the non-profit, government, education, business and health care fields, we share resources and information to achieve our vision of a healthier county. Our primary focus has been on increasing physical activity opportunities and the availability of healthy food options, both critical in helping to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer that have the potential to decrease both quality of life and life span.
And then came the Covid-19 pandemic, and with it, a rapidly escalating incidence of behavioral health issues associated with the isolation, fear, instability and change the pandemic has brought with it. In response to these concerns, the OPHCC Board of Directors decided to broaden our focus beyond physical health, to encompass and serve the expanding behavioral health needs seen in our county.
To that end, we’ve been working closely with The Healthy US Collaborative, a non-profit team of national leaders in health, healthcare, filmmaking, and communications to adopt their TakeCare initiative, a whole health-focused campaign addressing the four pillars of whole health: mind, body, spirit and community. OPHCC is the first rural community in the country to invest in this work and will provide important data back to the project on best practices.
Using these four pillars, the TakeCare project seeks to empower individuals to create their own health and well-being through small, simple steps using a story telling model to communicate the strategies. From ideas on connecting with others to mitigate isolation, to how spending time in nature positively influences our well-being, to practice mindfulness and meditation, this model provides us immediate solutions to manage the stress of the pandemic and decrease the resulting depression and anxiety some have experienced.
This past spring, the OPHCC conducted a survey of our partners to determine how we could best serve their needs with this whole health model and received overwhelming support and requests for additional assistance. Physicians need ideas for inexpensive activities to point their patients to in the county, health care providers want prescription pads to “prescribe” whole health activities for their patients, the schools would love to provide education pieces and experiences to their students (yoga in the classroom!), and partners would like to incorporate links to resources on their own websites.
We’ve been working hard all spring to pull this together, both in finding funding sources and in developing the communication tools our partners can use to get this great information to their populations in a timely manner, especially as we gradually reopen. In the meantime, take a moment today to do something to benefit YOUR whole health; invite an isolated neighbor to coffee, spend two minutes listing what you’re grateful for or head outside for a quick ten-minute walk around your block!
Dr. Monica Dixon, Co-Founder,
Olympic Peninsula Healthy Community Coalition
New Looks – Real & Virtual
We have been diligently working on a new website. The old one was just that, old. Please take a look and see what’s new. Many of the WOW! Forums have been recorded and can be heard through a link on our site. www.sequimfreeclinic.org
We’ve also given our lobby a face lift. New paint and new flooring, check out the pictures on our website, or give us a call for a tour.
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