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News and Features
05.14.08

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Free Healthcare for All

By P. Joseph Potocki


For the past seven years, the Jewish Community Free Clinic has provided a range of services to anyone passing through its doors. There's just one stipulation: the JCFC asks only that its clients not be covered by healthcare insurance. In other words, the JCFC's clients are the many North Bay residents with absolutely no other healthcare options, except those which plunge them deeply, and often irretrievably, into debt and bankruptcy.

Now to celebrate the opening of its brand-new Rohnert Park facility and to raise operation funds, the Jewish Community Free Clinic hosts a fiesta fundraiser on May 17 at Cotati's Congregation Ner Shalom.

Consider the numbers. Say you live in one of the following communities: Ross, Belvedere, Tiburon, Fairfax, San Anselmo, St. Helena, Yountville, Calistoga, Sonoma, Sebastopol, Cotati, Cloverdale or Healdsburg. Now imagine waking up this morning to news that you and every single member of these 13 communities no longer carry a shred of health insurance.

Shocking? Yes. Statistically wrong? No.

The combined populations of these communities represent the number of Sonoma and Marin County residents who woke up this morning lacking health coverage. Add Napa County to the mix, adjust for population growth since year 2000, and it's suddenly necessary to also toss the entire populations of both Mill Valley and Windsor in for a combined population of 144,000 who have no access to healthcare.

Jefferson Award–winning physician Robin Lowitz founded the free clinic in 2001 after volunteering at other Bay Area faith-based clinics. But it's more than just a doctor's office. The JCFC's clinical director Deborah Roberts says, "We run a holistic clinic. By that I mean we take care of the clients in a physical, psychological, sociological and spiritual way," which includes acupuncture and Chinese medicine, social services and referral.

The clinic hopes to launch immunization services and fluoride treatments soon along with classes addressing nutritional needs as well as obesity, diabetes and hypertension issues in both its adult and children client populations. Roberts says the aim is to empower "clients with their healthcare and understanding what their needs are so they can better advocate for themselves."

The Jewish Community Free Clinic, 490 City Center Drive, Rohnert Park. The Fiesta de la Clinica is slated for Saturday, May 17, from 6pm. Carmelita Monejano performs. Congregation Ner Shalom, 85 La Plaza, Cotati. $5–$18; includes dinner. 707.585.7780.


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