By Janice Podsada
Valley Daily News
September 6, 1996
The director of Arizona's health services flew in Thursday to catch a glimpse of the Kent Community Health Center, which will house the nation's first publicly funded natural medicine clinic. But the clinic, in what might be termed a gracious move, met the director en route -- as he strolled along Central Avenue. It took movers about an hour Thursday to successfully transplant the one-story building from its Meeker Street location to 8121 South 259th Street, which will be the clinic's temporary home for the next year while a larger facility is constructed at the Meeker Street site.
One Kent police officer and four private motorcycle escorts accompanied the 144,000 pound building as it crept down city streets at 5 mph. It just so happened that the Arizona director's visit coincided with the building' move, said Merrily Manthey, who chaired Kent's natural medicine task force. The natural medicine clinic, scheduled to open in October, has generated interest among health officials across the country.
Manthey said that 16 health officials from around the nation say they plan to visit the clinic once it's up and running. Thursday's visitor, Jack Dillenberg, director of Arizona Department of Health Services, called the new clinic one of the most exciting things happening in public health. "You're going to be so busy. People will be coming from all over for care, "Dillenberg said. "It's a great thing that King County has the foresight to be the first."
Arizona officials are interested in opening a similar clinic in their state, he said. Arizona like the Kent area, has a substantial immigrant population accustomed to natural medicine, Arizona has a population that is 18 percent Native American and 20 percent Hispanic. Both Native American and Hispanic cultures traditionally have utilized natural medicine therapies, Dillenberg said. However, Dillenberg said that before funds for a natural medicine clinic could be allocated, he would have to show Arizona officials that natural medicine is effective. "I'lI have to respond to legislators and the governor and demonstrate outcomes," Dillenberg said.
In two years time, Dillenberg should have that information in hand, given that the treatments provided by the Kent clinic will have been closely studied by an independent evaluation agency, under the direction of the University of Washington medical faculty.
Dillenberg also got the chance to view yet another site for the natural medicine clinic, the smaller and lighter cybersite-located at http://www.kentwa.com on the Internet. Even though the clinic building has moved, patients should continue to call the Kent phone number at 852-2866 for appointments and information. Providers will be practicing at the Renton or Auburn Community Health Centers.