Houston Shifa Services Foundation (www.HSSF.org) and its healthcare facility, Shifa Clinic, are a nonprofit organization founded by local physicians whose mission is to provide a community-oriented alternative for people who cannot afford medical treatment. HSSF operates four community clinics in the Houston Metro Area. Our clinic’s mission statement is: Healing the community one person at a time.®
Our clinic serves people of any race, religion, or national background. Shifa focuses on preventive, as well as family, general, and pediatric care. The clinic also offers breast cancer and eye screenings, along with educational and social services. Operated by a volunteer team of physicians, nurses, and administrative staff, Shifa Clinic’s operating funds comes from generous donations from the community and a nonmandatory clinic administrative fee of $20. About 40% of our patients do not pay any fee. No one is refused services because of nonpayment. We also offer funds to some of our patients for prescription medicines and lab tests.
Our Story of Service involves a recent immigrant, a 25-year-old mother of two young children. The mother enrolled for an eye screening event that was organized at Shifa Clinic with our Partners in Healthcare, the College of Optometry at University of Houston. The university uses a mobile unit equipped with the latest in ophthalmic technology and brings comprehensive, on-site vision services to patients.
Mrs. SM, our patient, needed immediate eye care and her family took advantage of the low-cost screening offered by University of Houston’s mobile unit. Dr. Gavin Gerondale and his team of interns conducted an extensive eye examination. Mrs. SM was found to have an extreme type of cataract, which doctors advised could be corrected by a simple surgery. Mrs. SM and her family, especially her two children, were relieved. The eye doctors in Mrs. SM’s country of birth had told her that her eye condition was beyond repair and that she should expect to lose complete use of one of her eyes, or possibly go blind.
“Simple surgery” would cost many thousands of dollars—money Mrs. SM and her family did not have because her husband was still looking for employment and the family was staying with relatives. The staff at Shifa Clinic comforted her and her family and offered to use its network of Partners in Healthcare to find free or low-cost assistance for Mrs. SM. Our clinic refereed her to one such partner, Gateway to Care (www.Gatewaytocare.org), a collaborative of more than 165 public and private health systems that provides medical care for approximately 2.2 million needy residents in the Greater Houston Area. Gateway to Care worked diligently to find an eye care specialist and surgeon within its Network of Physicians and Providers to give free or low-cost services to Mrs. SM.
The story has a happy ending. A young mother of two will keep her sight and clearly see the bright future in her new country.