By Sharon Abercrombie
The Order of Malta Oakland Clinic, Inc., a free medical service for uninsured children and adults, officially opened its doors on Oct. 13. Located in the new cathedral’s office building at the corner of 21st Street and Harrison Street, the clinic houses three exam rooms, two nurses’ stations, a utility room, a medical supply area for bandages, and a waiting room area.
Patients are asked to call for an appointment, but walk-ins are also welcome. The only qualification for care is that the patient does not have medical insurance.
Besides generalized medical care, patients can get free x-rays, mammograms, lab work and prescriptions from outside providers who are in relationship with the clinic, said Jane Rosell, clinic administrator. As part of its outreach, the organization has scheduled a free flu clinic for Nov. 4.
What makes the clinic work, said Rosell, are volunteer nurses and doctors who will serve for at least four hours on a weekly or monthly basis. A number of volunteer medical staff is already on board, but “we still need more general practitioners, internists, ER physicians and nurses,” she said. Besides traditional medical staff, a nutritionist, a chiropractor and a lactation specialist have volunteered.
Dr. Thomas Schmitz, the medical director, said ‘our goal is to have enough licensed medical staff to treat 200 or more patients a week.’
Clinic hours are 8:30 a.m. to noon; and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling (510) 587-3000. The receptionist speaks English, Spanish, Tagalog, German and ‘some limited French,’ said Rosell.
The Clinic is an outreach ministry of The Order of Malta’s Western Association U.S.A. The order is leasing the space for $1 a year and will pay all operating expenses, estimated between $300,000 and $500,000 annually.
Inspiration for the clinic came to Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron during a 2005 pilgrimage he made to Lourdes, France, with a local group of Knights and Dames of Malta. Each year, members of the international Order bring thousands of sick people to Lourdes.
The Oakland facility is modeled after the order’s clinic in Los Angeles. It has been treating patients for nearly 30 years.