Free medical clinic serves city’s most vulnerable
Clinic by the Bay, a non-profit and volunteer-based medical clinic, officially opened its doors on Nov. 9 in the Excelsior District offering free healthcare services to the uninsured.
Senator Diane Feinstein, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, and Supervisor John Avalos were in attendance for the grand opening.
Clinic by the Bay is based on the Volunteers in Medicine model, which uses retired health care professionals and volunteers to provide services. Services include free primary and preventative care, basic dental and mental health screening, prescription medication, specialty referrals, and health education.
The clinic, operating out of a shared chiropractic office at 4877 Mission St., partnered with Practice Fusion to provide web-based electronic medical records that will allow physicians to better serve patients who will come from the Excelsior and Outer Mission districts, as well as parts of Daly City.
“The electronic system helps with continuity and follow-up. It’s wonderful,” said Medical Director Mary Ann Miller, MD.
Currently, the clinic operates Tuesdays and Thursdays, with eligibility screenings Mondays and Wednesdays. Patients receive 45-minute appointments in the hope of establishing strong doctor-patient relations. It is estimated the clinic will serve approximately 2,100 people a year, including monolingual Spanish-, Cantonese-, or Tagalog-speaking residents.
The clinic will not be duplicating services and is available to adults, working or not, that do not have any coverage, or are ineligible for Medicare or Medi-Cal, or live below 250 percent of the federal poverty level. Anyone enrolled in Healthy SF is not eligible for services.
Speier said the clinic is going to bring vital services to those that may fall through the cracks of healthcare reform. In fact, an extensive needs analysis of the San Francisco area found that the Excelsior and Outer Mission were the most medically underserved, she said.
Senator Feinstein, who is fighting for premium rates regulation, stressed that as healthcare reform is implemented incrementally, there is still a need for free clinics. Many businesses continue to cut pensions and healthcare benefits and many Americans lack proper retirement savings, which will leave some people without any coverage.
“There is security in knowing there is help,” Feinstein said.
Inspired by Ohio Governor John Kasich’s book, Courage is Contagious, clinic Vice President and Co-Founder Scott Hauge enlisted Janet Reilly to spearhead his dream of bringing a VIM clinic to the region. The opening marks the 83rd VIM clinic in the nation and the second in California, but the first in Northern California.
As clinic president, Reilly has spent the last four years developing and building community relationships. The board of directors has worked closely with the local medical community and has received funding from several foundations, including Walgreens, Wells Fargo, AT&T and Pfizer.
“Clinic by the Bay is going to be here,” she added.
Pastel-painted walls, track lighting and sparingly-placed framed photographs make the clinic a welcoming location.
Volunteerism is at the core of this program. Office Manager Viela DuPont said they are continually looking for volunteers. DuPont had been working in corporate America when she became unemployed. She was looking for a change and landed at Clinic by the Bay.
“I feel great doing something for the community that I grew up in,” DuPont said.
At the grand opening, two patients testified to the exceptional service they received and they were extremely thankful that the clinic was now available to them. The clinic has been taking patients since September 30.
“It’s energizing. There is so much respect and a commitment to service here,” said volunteer Sister Therese Randolph, RSM.
For more information on volunteering or making a donation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (415) 405-0222.