These are just a few of the stories of the patients we serve, as well as the volunteers who care for them.

Our patients are adults who live in Benton and Franklin Counties, Washington. They are typically working at low-wage jobs and can’t afford health insurance.

When you give financially to Grace Clinic, you are helping patients like these. Recurring donations help us budget for the year. Go to our secure link to donate.

Interested in volunteering? Get started here.

Note: All stories and photos are used with permission.

Patient Stories

Dignity: Debbie and Robert’s Story

After 30 years of hard work installing tile and carpeting, Debbie’s husband Robert was injured in a car accident and had to go on disability, causing them to lose their health insurance. They couldn’t afford their blood pressure medication, so they stopped taking it for three months. Robert began feeling worse, and knew something was very wrong.

That’s when he came to Grace Clinic. Tests showed that his blood pressure was dangerously high. He was in ventricular tachycardia, meaning his heart was beating so fast that it was approaching a crisis level. Grace Clinic providers sent Robert to a local hospital immediately for emergency treatment, where he was kept overnight. There, his blood pressure was stabilized.

He and Debbie both followed up at Grace Clinic to manage their high blood pressure, as well as Robert’s diabetes. They also learned how to access discounted medications, which is critical to their long-term wellness.

“When you were always able to take care of yourself, you have to stuff your pride down to go to a free clinic,” Debbie said. “But everyone there made us feel like human beings again. They gave us our dignity back.” Added Robert, “That first visit ended up saving my life.”

A Good Hair Day: Juan’s Story

Juan had been coming to Grace Clinic for healthcare since he was 19. Landscaping and other jobs paid the bills, but didn’t provide medical insurance. In his mid-20s, Juan went through a rough time when his marriage ended, experiencing anxiety and depression. “I didn’t know how to get my emotions out, so I had outbursts aimed at others,” he said.

Counselors at Grace Clinic helped him think through a series of problem-solving steps. “I’ve used that process a lot since then, and it has helped me stay calm in tough circumstances,” he said.

In 2022, Juan achieved his professional dream when he started working as a licensed barber and shop manager at the Brotherhood Barbershop in downtown Kennewick.

Where would Juan be today without the help he received from Grace Clinic? “I would be lost,” he said. “And probably in a lot of debt, having to pay out of pocket.”

Instead, Juan is focusing on things that make him happy—like traveling, skiing, playing guitar–and of course, giving custom haircuts, which he describes as works of art.

No More Pain, All Gain: D’s Story

D. had a good job as a handyman, working in peoples’ homes to install furniture and make repairs. Unfortunately, when the covid pandemic and social distancing hit in 2020, the business he worked for lost customers – putting him out of a job.

D. had had a tooth infection that reoccurred for years. Without health insurance and unable to pay out of pocket to get the tooth treated properly, he just kept taking antibiotics to keep the infection at bay. But eventually, the pain became so severe that he began having symptoms of a heart attack. When an ambulance arrived to rush him to a hospital, D’s blood pressure was so high that the paramedics thought something was wrong with their instrumentation.

Emergency room staff were able to bring D’s cardiac condition under control, but his tooth infection continued its painful and persistent attack. That’s when D. learned about Grace Clinic and its emergency dental services.

Volunteer dentist Dr. Ramirez removed D’s damaged tooth, eliminating the source of pain and infection—all at no cost to D.

“I’m very grateful that this service is here,” D. said. “I’ve been in larger cities that didn’t have a clinic like this. Sometimes with a free clinic, you have a dip in quality. It’s not like that here. People who work here are genuine, not just checking the box.”

D. continues to have his blood pressure tracked at Grace Clinic. “I grew up in foster care situations, so I don’t have parents to fall back on,” he added. “A clinic like this is a great resource for those who really need it.”

Photo: “D” with nurse Jon]

New Beginning: Nicolasa’s Story

Imagine if you had to flee for your life … then were knocked down by severe emotional turbulence. This was Nicolasa’s story.

Nicolasa was working as a government official in her native country when her life was threatened. She escaped to the United States. But once here, a series of circumstances added to her emotional trauma. Nicolasa’s self-esteem plunged. She became depressed, went for weeks with very little sleep, and suffered from panic attacks.

Once she began receiving mental health counseling from Grace Clinic, though, she saw a glimmer of hope. The counselor gave her specific, practical assignments based on cognitive behavioral therapy. For example, replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Find a reason to laugh. Give yourself a gift that represents your value.

Practicing these self-help strategies shared by a caring, experienced counselor, Nicolasa has come a long way. She felt more confident. Her concentration and sleep improved.

“I was in darkness before, but now it feels like I’ve walked into the light,” she said.

When Tattoos Strike Back: James’s Story

What do you do when a tattoo becomes seriously infected, but you can’t afford a doctor’s visit?

This is what happened to a patient we’ll call “James.”

James is a journeyman industrial painter who needed his trade union to schedule jobs for him. In the past few months, jobs were few and far between. With his income dwindling, James filed for unemployment, losing his health insurance in the process. Eventually, he landed a new job with an independent business, but it doesn’t offer insurance.

A family member had given James a tattoo in honor of his daughter. James noticed that his arm was becoming red and swollen. With no extra money for a doctor’s visit, James felt he had no choice but to put up with the infection, hoping it would get better with time.

Good thing he didn’t.

James heard about Grace Clinic and made a no-cost appointment. The diagnosis? A staph infection—which can turn deadly if the bacteria invade deeper into the body.

James was given a discount for an antibiotics prescription. A followup visit showed that his arm had healed well.

[Photo: James with Medical Director Kathy Brault.]

Determined: Sharon’s Story

Sharon had a couple of broken teeth that had to be extracted at Grace Clinic.

Meanwhile, she was also recovering from a devastating fall that broke nine ribs and punctured her lung.

Despite these setbacks, Sharon is determined to take care of her health – and that’s why she comes to Grace Clinic.

“When you come here, you expect the job to be done correctly … and it is,” she said. “The dentists here are professionals. They get it done properly and quickly.”

And when you rely on a limited social security income, as Sharon does, being able to access health services at no cost is crucial.

[Photo: Dr. Ramirez and Dental Assistant Shelley with Sharon.]

All Heart: Maria’s Story

Maria knew something was seriously wrong with her heart. At Grace Clinic, she saw Dr. Iyad Jamali, a Kadlec hospital cardiologist who also volunteers with us.

He originally diagnosed her dangerously low heart function through a treadmill stress test at the Clinic. It turned out that her heart was working at only 20% capacity.

Dr. Jamali was able to get her into the hospital for a life-saving surgical procedure to restore blood flow to her heart muscle. Now, Maria is doing well.

[Photo: Dr. Jamali with Maria.]

Downturn Turnaround: Richard’s Story

Richard’s story shows how even a college-educated and highly skilled person can suffer an unexpected downturn. In 2018, he moved from Butler, Pennsylvania to take a job in the Tri-Cities as an Operations Database Specialist for a Hanford contractor. But once he started work, a new manager cancelled the contract, saying that the scope of work was no longer necessary.

Suddenly, Richard found himself without a job or medical benefits, 2,500 miles away from the home he had recently left. With a bachelor’s degree in computing and accounting and one in education, and despite a diligent job search, no offers came his way. After living out of his car for a while, he moved to the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission to get back on his feet. Staff there referred him to Grace Clinic.

Clinic providers welcomed him and found many ways to help. Over several months, Richard received treatment for painful gout in his feet and high blood pressure. He also got dental care and osteopathic manipulation for degenerative disc disease from a past car accident. Counseling provided further encouragement.

Richard found ways to give back. Once during the past winter’s heavy snowfall, he grabbed a shovel from his car and cleared snow from the Clinic’s long sidewalk and parking lot entrance.

By June 2019, he had saved enough money to fly back to attend his daughter’s graduation in Pennsylvania. He had a job interview lined up there as well.

The resources he found in the Tri-Cities were like no other, he said. “Between Grace Clinic and the Mission, it really restored hope for me,” he said. “I have gone to places in other states where people look at you with a condescending attitude, but everyone at the Clinic is respectful and supportive. Knowing that there are people who really do care makes a big difference.”

Peace of Mind: Aimee’s Story

Since third grade, Aimee has suffered from a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder known as trichotillomania. This means obsessively pulling your hair.

Aimee had tried wearing bandanas and gloves, putting gel in her hair to make it harder to pull, and even shaving her head for a year. Nothing seemed to help much.

A colleague where Aimee works in a Kennewick retail shop told her about Grace Clinic. Aimee began seeing one of the Clinic’s licensed mental health counselors, who put her on an affordable generic version of anti-anxiety medication. She also helped Aimee develop coping skills.

It took only four months for Aimee to notice a dramatic difference. “This is the first time I’ve gotten a medication that has worked, and the longest I’ve gone without pulling my hair obsessively,” she said. “I’m not reacting to little things with explosive emotions, the way I was before. Now I can sleep at night.” Aimee has also used Clinic resources to reduce sciatica (spinal) pain, check her thyroid hormone levels, and augment her nutrition with the food cupboard.

To Aimee, Grace Clinic means peace of mind. “Now I can go to a doctor if I’m sick and not wait until it’s out of control and have to go to an ER,” she said. “I can focus on taking care of myself, because I know that it won’t be a financial burden on my family.”

Volunteer Stories

Volunteer Chief Executive Officer: Mark Brault

Mark Brault has been described as a selfless leader who demonstrates his compassion for those struggling in the community.

A Certified Public Accountant and former business owner, Mark joined the board of Grace Clinic in 2006 as treasurer. Nearly a decade later, he became its chief executive officer. He led the transition of the Clinic from its all volunteer roots into a standalone medical clinic.

Mark convinced Kadlec and Trios hospitals to send their third-year residents (doctors) to work at Grace Clinic for a four-week rotation. This expanded healthcare access for uninsured, low-income residents in Benton and Franklin Counties and Burbank. It also improved the residents’ knowledge and experience in working with this demographic.

Mark partnered with the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission, helping with its health and wellness program for the homeless, including a new respite bed program for homeless men and women. He persuaded the Benton-Franklin Health District to let Grace Clinic expand into the District’s former, 10,000-square-foot building.

Mark is regarded as one of the most knowledgeable people in the region on the complexity and pitfalls of the U.S. health care system. He is vice president of the Kennewick Public Hospital District, served on the Benton Franklin Community Health Alliance, and was a charter member of the Columbia Basin Non-Profit Association. He also served for ten years on the board of United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties and currently is on the boards of Columbia Industries and the Public Market.

He was named the 2018 Kennewick, Washington Man of the Year. In 2022, he was named Tri-Citian of the Year for the Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick area. “If I am able to make a contribution to the community, there is nothing that means more to me,” he said.

Dentist and Dancer: Dr. Jacqueline Tuazon

Dr. Jacqueline Tuazon is a gifted and dedicated dentist. Originally from the Philippines, she moved to Kennewick, Washington in 1990 and graduated from Kamiakin High School.

After working in a dental office in various management roles, she earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery at NYU College of Dentistry. She began her dental practice in 2008 and moved around in various Washington state cities, most recently in Tacoma.

From March to September, she drives from Tacoma once a month to care for Grace Clinic dental patients.

Dr. Tuazon also crafts beautiful jewelry. In 2020, she provided 15 of her hand-made pieces to Grace Clinic as a fundraiser. A woman of many talents, she’s also a ballroom dancer.

A Good Sport: Dr. Rich Jacobs

What do you do after you’ve served as Team Physician for football and women’s soccer at Notre Dame (yes, THAT Notre Dame)? You volunteer at Grace Clinic, of course.

Dr. Rich Jacobs had a distinguished and diverse professional career before he landed at Grace Clinic. His background is in family practice with a specialization in sports medicine. After Notre Dame, this Richland native returned to his Northwest roots. He worked in emergency medicine in Walla Walla. He treated injured athletes at Northwest Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. And he’s also the Team Doctor for Tri-Cities Prep high school in Pasco.

Why does he volunteer at Grace Clinic? “There are many roadblocks to getting medical care, and I want to help people navigate that,” Dr. Jacobs said. His patients appreciate his generous spirit and engaging humor. “I like people, and I like giving to people,” he said.

Counseling as a Calling: Monisha Ramey

Monisha Ramey is an intern mental health counselor at Grace Clinic. She uses an approach called cognitive behavioral therapy to treat issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and trauma.

One example of trauma is domestic abuse. “On average, a victim will try to leave their abuser seven to ten times before they leave permanently,” Monisha said. “They often lack self-esteem and have financial limitations that make them more vulnerable to putting up with the abuse.” Monisha helps them understand what constitutes abuse and how they can change their choices.

After having worked in social services for more than 15 years, Monisha is pursuing her Master of Social Work degree with an emphasis in Advanced Clinical Practice. She is a former law enforcement officer and an Army veteran.

All Ears: Dr. Curtis Woolf

Audiologist Dr. Curtis Woolf evaluates, diagnoses and treats hearing loss, balance issues caused by dizziness, and tinnitus, as well as prescribing and fitting hearing aids.

You’ll typically find him at his “day job” at Kadlec Clinic in Richland, Washington. But he also volunteers at Grace Clinic to see patients who otherwise wouldn’t have access to health care.

People without insurance may put off seeing an audiologist because of the potential cost burden. But Dr. Woolf is able to help them at Grace Clinic, at no charge. “Some people here can be treated right away and walk out cured, like those with certain kinds of positional vertigo,” he said.

It’s not unusual for patients come in thinking they can’t afford hearing aids, which can run into thousands of dollars. But Dr. Woolf can refer some people for inexpensive, over-the-counter hearing aids. He also has access to donated, refurbished hearing aids that he can re-program for other patients.

Dr. Woolf appreciates how the audiology and medical sides of Grace Clinic work as a team. For example, he may send a vertigo patient to the medical side to check for migraines. Doctors on the medical side can send patients with possible hearing loss or dizziness to him for an audiology analysis.

[Photo: Dr. Woolf adjusts a patient’s hearing aid.]

Still Volunteering After Double-Lung Transplant: Tammi Diaz

What’s it like having a double-lung transplant? Tammi can tell you.

Tammi was diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) in 2010. That’s an incurable, progressive lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. By 2019, Tammi was down to 15 percent lung function, was on oxygen full time, and had to use a scooter to get around. Life was a struggle.

The mom of three became a candidate for a lung transplant in January 2021. “I knew I would die without this,” she said. Within five weeks, Tammi learned that a pair of lungs had become available from Alaska. Surgeons at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle did the transplant.

As she waited to go into the operating room, Tammi had a vision of God picking her up, lovingly placing her on the operating table, and saying, “It’s time, daughter.” Three days after the surgery, Tammi woke up in her hospital bed, able to take a deep breath for the first time.

Today, Tammi has returned as a volunteer dental assistant at Grace Clinic, and she also volunteers at Sozo Food Bank in Kennewick.

“Having new lungs is literally a second life, a second chance,” she said. “I’m not going to waste it.”

See a 2022 Tri-City Herald story for more about Tammi’s journey.

Heart Smart: Dr. Iyad Jamali

It’s great to have specialty care for those who need it. With his respectful manner and skillful care, cardiologist Dr. Iyad Jamali is a favorite with Grace Clinic patients.

Dr. Jamali is with Kadlec Regional Medical Center. He was instrumental in obtaining an unused stress testing treadmill and EKG machine from Kadlec. He and his technologist Leslie now use this equipment at Grace Clinic to diagnose potential cardiac problems.

[Photo: Dr. Jamali with Angela]

More than Skin Deep: Jennifer McCullugh

Grace Clinic patients who are having health issues with their hair, skin, or nails can see Jennifer McCullugh. She treats all skin conditions as well as skin cancer surveillance and removal.

Jennifer is a nurse practitioner certified in dermatology, who has owned Mid-Columbia Dermatology for years.

When volunteering at Grace Clinic, she especially enjoys giving a little extra time to her patients who are seniors or veterans, “people who need someone to visit with.”

“The skin is the largest organ; anything can affect it,” she said. “I like how complicated dermatology health conditions can be, because I like to figure things out.”

Dual Careers: Jon Fager

Jon has two professions. During the weekday, he works as an elementary school teacher in the Kennewick, Washington School District. On Saturdays, he volunteers as a registered nurse at Grace Clinic. His teaching skills help him communicate effectively and provide patient education about health conditions such as high blood pressure.

At the Clinic, the hours he works help him maintain his professional nursing license. He enjoys working in a family practice environment, which gives him substantial contact time with patients.

Jon especially likes the diverse demographics of patients at the Clinic, with their varying ages and health conditions. He also speaks Spanish, an added bonus for communicating with our Hispanic patients. Hear Jon talk about Grace Clinic in this short video.

[Photo: Jon with patient “D.”]