CHARITY CARE: Muslim Clinic Serves Los Angeles Community
Today's Los Angeles Times profiles the University Muslim Medical Associates clinic located in inner-city Los Angeles. The clinic's "36 volunteer doctors, two volunteer nurses and 30 medical school students" have served approximately 2,300 people since it opened two years ago. Most of the doctors work at either Harbor-UCLA Medical Center or Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital, volunteering at the clinic one day per month. UMMA offers a range of service that "includes pediatric care, ophthalmology, general medicine and emergency treatment." Care is provided without charge to patients who can prove "that they are indigent, lack adequate health insurance and live in the area," the Times reports.
Religious In Mission, But Not In Practice
The clinic's four founders are Muslim and the building is lettered in gold Arabic script, but UMMA is not exclusive to the faith -- more than half of the doctors and staff who volunteer are Jewish or Christian. The Times notes that the clinic is "a departure from tradition," as most American Muslims volunteer through a mosque to help other Muslims. But "these doctors are reaching into the broader community to offer their services in the name of their religious faith and make them available to anyone." The majority the clinic's patients "don't know very much about Islam and are not there to learn more," according to the Times. Most are likely Roman Catholic, as 60% of the patients are Latinos. Just 30% of UMMA patients are African Americans. "The clinic is not a religious endeavor. There's a standard policy not to proselytize," said co-founder Dr. Nisha Abdul Cater. Yet, as her husband Dr. Rushdi Abdul Cater notes, the clinic is an opportunity for people to become more appreciative of other faiths' charity work. "Working together heals riffs, softens the hearts of people from different religious communities," he said. He noted that "the basis of our work is health care service to the indigent, along with medical education in the context of service." The clinic is funded through a federal grant and "occasional donations from grateful patients." The federal grant is set to expire in two years, but the clinic has applied for other grants, the Times reports (Rourke, 8/5).