Crawfish King owner Torrey Le and his wife, Julie Nguyen, prepare 80 chicken and rice meals for healthcare workers across the street at the ICHS International District clinic, March 30, 2020. Photo courtesy Truong Nguyen.

Crawfish King, a small seafood restaurant on Eighth Avenue South, surprised International Community Health Services (ICHS) by delivering 80 lunches to its hungry staff at its International District clinic across the street on March 30.

The ICHS staff, working on the front line of protecting the local community from the COVID-19 pandemic, have held steady in the face of widespread public fear, shortage of medical supplies and deep financial challenges. ICHS serves over 32,000 patients, including over 10,000 at its headquarters clinic at 720 Eighth Avenue South. ICHS’s regular patients include ID business owners, employees and residents who are struggling to make ends meet under the Governor’s recent stay-at-home order. Many ID patients are non-English-speaking elderly who live in subsidized apartments in the neighborhood.

The Crawfish King staff came in at 7 a.m. to prep food so they could deliver the chicken and rice meals to ICHS by lunchtime. Truong Nguyen, Crawfish King marketing manager, said this was not a one-time venture. “We’re trying to build community engagement,” he added.

Dennis Ho, marketing coordinator at Crawfish King, delivers lunches to the staff of the ICHS International District clinic, March 30, 2020.

“Wow!” said Ron Chew, ICHS foundation director. “We were surprised and deeply touched.” He noted that Hood Famous + Bar, another ID business, brought free beverages to ICHS the previous week. Sadly, Hood Famous was forced to close on the eve of its first anniversary due to the state-wide mandate on “non-essential business.”

Since March 24, the ID clinic has offered drive-through COVID-19 testing for members of the general public who show symptoms of the virus, which include fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath. The International District Emergency Center is helping set up tents and organize logistics in front of the ICHS clinic. The King County Public Health Department has provided testing kits. This week, ICHS began offering similar drive-through testing by appointment at its Shoreline clinic as well.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, community leaders, friends of ICHS, non-profit organizations and even ICHS patients have stepped forward with financial contributions as well as badly needed supplies like face masks. One individual is making bagels to raise money to buy food for staff at the ICHS Holly Park Clinic. These gestures come at a time when ICHS has had to furlough about one-third of its staff.

“In the midst of this terrible medical crisis, it’s especially heartening to see these many random acts of kindness,” Chew said. “It affirms that we’re all in this together. It lifts our spirits during a time when it’s most needed. We’re incredibly grateful.”

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