|October 5, 2015 • VOL. 53, NO. 17 • Oakland, CA|
| Respect for Live
Order of Malta Clinic: Free health care for poor
The Census Bureau estimates that 1 in 5 Oakland residents lives below the poverty level. From single mothers in-between jobs, to those stricken with disabilities, the working poor share one common thread: the inability to afford quality health care.
Blessed by Bishop Allen H. Vigneron upon its opening in 2008, the clinic is located adjacent to The Cathedral of Christ the Light in downtown Oakland, across from Lake Merritt. Since then, it has provided more than 19,000 medical visits to uninsured patients, regardless of their faith.
Staffed by a passionate team of 10 volunteer doctors and 24 nurses working under the supervision of a paid medical director, the clinic serves approximately 2,500 patients a year, making it one of California's most active providers of health care to the area's working poor.
Emergency rooms at nearby hospitals are overcrowded, often with non-emergency visits. The Order of Malta clinic relieves this congestion by providing primary care to patients who would otherwise have nowhere else to turn.
Patients can receive basic services from medical evaluations and prescription renewals to specialty services like Cardiology, Neurology, Otolaryngology (ENT), Dermatology, Podiatry and Gynecology.
According to Mike Lambert of the clinic's Board of Directors, the Order of Malta Clinic does not receive any public funding or accept fees for its services. Rather, the clinic's entire annual budget of approximately $468,000 is met through the philanthropic donations of members and friends of the organization. The clinic hopes to one day expand its weekly operations to five days. This will enable the clinic to make an even greater impact on the well-being of the local community.
"The Order of Malta Clinic has provided health care to Oakland's uninsured for over seven years, far exceeding the average two-year lifespan of similar faith-based clinics," says Lambert. "Our ultimate goal is to increase our weekly operations from two and a half days a week to five days a week. Through our upcoming Silver Chalice Awards Dinner on Oct. 13, we hope to raise enough funds to help us deliver an even greater impact on the well-being of the community."
The Order of Malta has a long and storied history as one of the longest tenured non-profits. It first began providing care to the poor and sick in 1048, with the founding of a hospice infirmary for pilgrims in Jerusalem. The 900-year-old organization has more than 13,000 members and 80,000 volunteers worldwide.
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