The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 16 percent of California residents lives below the poverty level, and the working poor share one common thread: the inability to afford quality health care.
The Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California is helping address this difficulty by providing free, primary care medical services to over 2,500 uninsured patients a year in the Bay Area — among them the neediest in Oakland — making it one of California’s most active providers of health care to the area’s working poor and uninsured.
For many people health care is a luxury that is so far out of reach, even check-ups for the most basic preventative diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure are not even possible. The Clinic is providing a safety net to help address basic health care needs for those without health insurance, before these diseases become a serious issue.
While most faith-based clinics around the country have an average lifespan of two years, the Order of Malta Clinic is going on its ninth year, and no one is turned away for the lack of ability to pay. In fact, the Clinic refuses to accept payment for any services offered, and offers primary care to those without health insurance, regardless of faith.
Blessed by Bishop Vigneron upon its opening in 2008, the Oakland Clinic has seen a marked increase in the number of patients seeking care as unemployment remains high in the Bay Area. The crisis of healthcare in our country is not going away, and there will always be a need for the free healthcare that the Order of Malta Northern California Clinic provides.
Located at the Diocese of Oakland’s Cathedral of Christ the Light, the Clinic is managed by a paid staff of five: Medical Director, Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nurse, Office Manager and Receptionist. A full range of medical services are currently provided by volunteers, including physicians, a nurse practitioner and 24 registered nurses. Each week, resident physicians from Kaiser Permanente take a rotation in the Clinic.
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 more specialty services like Cardiology, Oncology, Psychiatry, Gastroenterology, Chiropractic, Neurology, Otolaryngology (ENT), Dermatology, Podiatry and Gynecology including breast exams, pap smears and referrals for mammograms.
Since 2008, the Clinic has provided vital health care services made possible by the generous donations from the Bay Area community. On October 11th, the Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California will host ‘A Knight For Champions,’ – the 8th Annual Silver Chalice Awards Dinner at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco honoring Dr. Robert J. Stein, KM, founding organizer and long-time member of the Clinic Board medical committee. Funds raised will help achieve the Clinic’s goal of expanding its operations and services.
Copyright 2016 John P. Christian, KM
About the Author: John Christian serves as the president for the board of director’s of the Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California. Prior to joining the Tobin & Tobin law firm (now, Weintraub Tobin) in 1984, John served as Law Clerk to the Honorable Ira A. Brown, Presiding Judge of the Superior Court, City and County of San Francisco, in 1983. He served on the Editorial Advisory Board for the first edition of California Causes of Action, published in 1998 by James Publishing, Inc. He is a member of the Commercial Law and Bankruptcy Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco.