SHAFAQNA – Providing a free medical help for vulnerable and uninsured Americans in South Carolina, an American Muslim organization is offering free medical service for people of all faiths, setting a role model for American Muslims.
“When people walk in and say, ‘This place is a blessing that touches my heart,’ it melts everything,” Dr. Reshma Khan, who works in the Shifa Clinic, said.
“There’s no better place I would be, just to see the smile on people’s faces and every day we touch so many lives.”
Dr Khan, a local Veterans Affairs doctor, managed to establish her free clinic in Mount Pleasant in January 2012.
The Muslim doctor got help from the Islamic Circle of North America Relief USA, which is paying the rent on the three-room clinic located in an office building on Lowcountry Boulevard.
The free clinic offers a full range of gynecology services to the uninsured and underinsured Americans, regardless of the faith.
Khan, 42, runs the clinic with about 20 volunteers and companies that donate medical services.
Her husband, Dr. Ahsan Khan, a nuclear medicine specialist, serves on the clinic’s board.
“Everybody that works here, they have a heart to serve others and they make a big difference by working together,” Rosalinda Loredo, a volunteer at the clinic who acts as a translator for their Hispanic patients, about one-third of their patient population, said.
When Shifa opened in 2012, it was only open four hours a week. Khan ran everything herself.
“We used to see four or five patients a week,” Khan said.
“I was the only one person doing everything. I was the provider. I was the person taking messages. I was the person doing photocopies.”
Now, the gynecologist said they see about 40 patients a week and it’s her full-time job.
Though she doesn’t get paid, she left her job at the VA to run Shifa full-time as a volunteer.
“She has a passion for what she does,” Loredo said. “She works 60 to 80 hours [a week] to continue to help those people in need.”
Fulfilling the needs of the poor people in her society, she enjoys giving as part of her Islamic beliefs.
“This is the face of Islam. Charity is very, very much in Islam and mercy and compassion and love and peace. That’s what I’m trying to do here,” she said.
This is not the first time Muslim doctors provide free medical help for poor Americans.
In January 2012, a group of Muslim doctors volunteered to open the Rahma Health Clinic to provide free medical services for poor residents in New York’s Syracuse city.
Earlier in 2011, a free clinic was established by the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America to provide dental, ophthalmologic, pediatric and pain-management services on Sundays at the Balal Mosque on St. Louis University’s campus.
Another clinic was opened by the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, in partnership with Volunteers in Medicine in October.