CAIRO – Providing a free medical help for vulnerable and uninsured Americans in South Carolina over the past year, a Muslim doctor is relieved that her dream of putting Islamic Teachings on helping the poor is realized.
“This is the cornerstone of the Islamic society and a constant theme in the Qur’anic teachings,” Dr. Reshma Khan, a gynecologist at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, told The Post and Courier on Sunday, February 24.“Faith should be put into action.”
Dr Khan, a local Veterans Affairs doctor, managed to establish her free clinic in Mount Pleasant in January 2012.
The Muslim doctors 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.
Khan soon will be joined by Dr. Betsy Rainey, an ob-gyn who just moved to Charleston after serving with Doctors Without Borders overseas.
“These are patients who might otherwise not get treated,” Rainey says.
This is not the first time Muslim doctors provide free medical help for poor Americans.
In January, 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.
Last year, 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.
In Allah's NameThe vast majority of patients who paid visits to the free Muslim clinic are non-Muslims.
“I have met so many beautiful people with beautiful hearts of all different faiths and ethnicities,” Khan says.
“I feel so humbled to be part of this bouquet of people.”
About half the patients, nearly 300, are unemployed.
The remaining 46 percent are employed but either lack health insurance or cannot afford what their insurance plans don't cover.
Each patient has a different story.
For example, Ilian Moreno has four young children and could not afford a $600 fee for a gynecological test she needed.
At the Shifa Clinic, she will get it for free.
Angela Pearson was recently laid off and could not afford the $150 fee not covered for a procedure.
“It would mean not paying the mortgage or not buying food,” Pearson says.
Michele McFadden works at a local hospital but does not have health insurance because she is a per diem employee.
Like most patients at the clinic, she is not Muslim — and it doesn't matter to her that Khan is.
“Health care is pretty universal,” McFadden says. “It doesn't matter what religion you are.”
In the clinic’s second year, the Muslim doctor hopes to increase services by 20 percent and provide free or low-cost osteoporosis screenings and colonoscopies.
She also dreams of extending the clinic's Feed the Hungry program and its back-to-school program funded by the Central Mosque of Charleston.
Fulfilling the needs of the poor people in her society, she enjoys giving in Allah’s name.
“My purpose is to serve the creator, and the best way to serve the creator is through the creation,” Khan, who runs her free Shifa Clinic, said.“If God has given me this (talent), I need to use it for more than myself.”
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