Al Shifa Free Medical Clinic: The Feeling Is Priceless!
By Perwaiz Ahmad
Salahuddin Ayubi, a great Muslim Ruler in the 12th Century, after being victorious in a war, heard that the leader of the captured enemy was seriously ill. He immediately ordered his subordinate to arrange for a physician to take care of his captive leader. Such was the character and faith of religion of these great leaders.
It is ironic that a country like United States of America has over 48 million people who cannot afford medical insurance because of the exponential rise in the medical insurance cost over the last four decades. In 1992, when President Clinton took office , his better-half Hilary Clinton took upon herself the task of revamping the out-of-control health industry but failed without making a dent because of the insurmountable vested interest and intense lobby ( 7000 lobbyists reside in Washington DC alone ) by the insurance , pharmaceutical and medical industry. However, all was not lost because the skyrocketing cost, rising four times (18%) annually, more than the annual inflation rate (3-4%) came down at par with inflation. No President has dared to rock the boat of medical care for all in the past forty years but President Obama, whose idea was deemed unconstitutional by the opposing group (100% Republicans). Eventually the Supreme Court intervened and President Obama was victorious. In other words David challenged Goliath to change the status quo or else face the consequences of a bitter fight.
A sick baby or an ailing adult is the most irritating feeling for all human beings especially those who cannot afford to see a doctor because of unaffordablity. About fourteen years ago, few Muslim brothers in the Redlands, CA area got together and conceived a project to address the dire medical needs of the poor and the downtrodden in the Inland Empire regardless of ethnicity and religious affiliation, a color blind clinic so to speak. By the grace of God, Al Shifa Clinic has survived 14 years of continuous service to the community because of relentless efforts by the voluntary staff and generous community members. Whereas free service is provided to the community, nevertheless, the minimum requirements set by the State of California to run a medical clinic have to be met at all cost in terms of following the standard operating procedure, such as documentation, record keeping, hiring of qualified nurses, nurse’s aid and purchase of disposable items used. Moreover, there is the inevitable cost of utilities and land lease that has to be met on a timely basis without exception. Despite the ever growing demands of the community seeking free medical help, Al Shifa’s hands are tied to expand the operating hours and is forced to work on the formula of a retailer called Three Day Suits Stores (open 3 days a week) we are all familiar with to offset the operating cost .
By and large it is human instinct to help the poor and the needy not only in the community we live in but whenever a need arises; thousands have donated in the form of cash and kind across the globe anywhere a national calamity has struck. It is not only embedded in our faith (one of the five pillars of Islam) but all the other religions that have preceded us to help the sick and hungry regardless of their religious affiliation. It goes without saying that as a Muslim we are taught that one should not eat a full meal if his/her neighbor has gone to bed hungry. One can only imagine the feeling of a sick neighbor without access to medical help because at one time or another all of us, especially one with infants and toddlers, have gone through some restless nights due to flue, allergy or other minor ailments.
Therefore, it is incumbent on all of us to participate in this noble project, called Al Shifa, Clinic by attending their fund-raising event on Saturday, April 20, 2013 or by sending their donation, no matter how small, because every dollar and every penny helps. Once our basic needs are fulfilled in this land of plenty and majority of us are in this position, we can pitch in a few bucks a month to help Al-Shifa Clinic flourish in front of our own eyes and for the future generation … the feeling is priceless. I hope we can spread this kind of project, “Free Clinic by Muslims” more than anything else in other parts of California, and hopefully, across the United States because the poverty-stricken population is not just restricted to California alone. With the help of all Muslims “Free Clinic by Muslims”can become a household word. It will help us win the hearts and minds of all mankind.
For more information please visit the website, www.alshifafreeclinic.org or call Al Shifa Clinic at (909) 473 0600.