TX: Muslim Clinics Fill Health Care Needs


Elena Lopez needed diabetes medication and was due for a medical exam, but the 64-year-old had no health insurance.

So her daughter, Rosa Ramirez, took Lopez to the Ibn Sina Foundation community clinic in southwest Houston, where she paid a small fee to see a doctor on a walk-in basis.

"Otherwise, I couldn't afford to take her to the doctor," said Ramirez, who lives near the facility.

The clinic is one of many Muslim health facilities popping up across the country, according to a report by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a national nonprofit, policy-research organization. Most have a base cliental of Muslims but serve the broader community.

The facilities "represent a new trend in the American Muslim community to sort of claim a space in the public health movement in addressing fundamental health problems," said Lance Laird, a professor at Boston University School of Medicine who wrote the report.

He studied 10 clinics in four cities with large Muslim populations: Houston, Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles. Most rely largely on volunteers and provide primary care to underserved, low-income communities.

Houston is home to at least two groups that provide such care: the Ibn Sina Foundation, which has one clinic in the southwestern part of the city and another in Clear Lake, and the Houston Shifa Services Foundation, which runs a clinic in Sugar Land.

Aijaz Ali Khowaja, chief executive officer of the Ibn Sina Foundation, said he doesn't like to call the southwest clinic faith-based, even though it was originally located next to a mosque.

"We never ask about their religion," he said of patients, as he demonstrated dental equipment at the facility. "We give services to everybody."

About a third of patients there are Muslim, he said. The patients also are racially diverse: About 45 percent are Asian, a third Hispanic, 12 percent African-American and 10 percent white, he said. (MORE)

 


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