SHAFAQNA – Central Florida’s Muslim leaders unveiled a new free clinic Friday that will serve the poor and uninsured of all backgrounds — a move they hope will help counter negative stereotypes about their faith.
The facility, the American Muslim Community Centers Clinic in Longwood, will start seeing patients next week and initially will be open only on Fridays. But officials said it would grow to three days a week in a month or two and eventually to five days a week.
“Our goal is to serve humanity — no strings attached. Everyone is welcome,” said Atif Fareed, AMCC chairman. “We have over 40 physicians who come to our mosque, and we have 11 of them signed up to volunteer here. So we are very, very blessed.”
The clinic will offer general health care to anyone in Orange, Osceola or Seminole counties who is uninsured and earning below 200 percent of the federal poverty line — which works out to $23,760 a year for an individual and $48,600 for a family of four.
Patients can make appointments online at amssclinic.org, and Longwood Pharmacy has agreed to fill many common prescriptions for free, Fareed said. The clinic is at 588 Wilma St., just off State Road 434.
Local leaders praised the effort.
“It’s a blessing,” said Senior Pastor Joel Hunter of Northland, a Longwood mega-church, who joined in the celebration. “The way you build trust in the community is that you serve everyone. I think anyone who comes to this clinic will leave with a favorable view of Islam.”
Longwood Commissioner John Maingot said the facility will help fill a deep need.
“We know there are thousands of people in Central Florida who could use a facility like this,” he said. “And if they don’t get help here, they tend to wind up in our emergency rooms.”
Moazzam Adnan Raja, a spokesman for the clinic, said there are no official projections on how many people the clinic could end up serving but — based on turnout at public health fairs the community center has sponsored — the number would easily be in the hundreds.
“We’ll do what we can to serve as many as possible,” he said. “Our mercy should not be constrained.”
Many of the Muslim doctors here already volunteer for other nonprofit health-care clinics in Central Florida, including Shepherd’s Hope, Raja said. And other volunteers will staff the front desk and various clinic positions.
The community centers raised $250,000 to buy and refurbish the clinic building, a former doctor’s office. It has at least two exam rooms and space for lab work.