December 2016

John Christian Looks Ahead

Two months ago we launched the newsletter for our beloved Clinic. The inaugural edition was well-received, and has proven to be a valuable communication tool to spread the good news about “the miracle on 21st Street.” In this season of giving thanks for all our blessings, let’s review some of the progress we have made in 2016, and our dreams for an even better 2017.

First, we remain true to our core mission of providing free medical care to the uninsured. We do this four days a week in a modern facility conveniently located on the campus of the Oakland Cathedral, across from Lake Merritt. The setting is “pastoral” in every sense, and in the coming weeks we will welcome our 25,000th patient – it could be your neighbor, a friend’s gardener, your shoe repairman. The working, uninsured poor are all around us, and whether the political winds coming from Washington blow the doors off of the Affordable Care Act, or merely trim back a few thorny branches (yes, I’m mixing metaphors), the demand for the Clinic’s services will remain strong.

More hours – we are fulfilling our pledge of adding hours and breadth of services. The lights are on four days a week, and every square foot is being used for the betterment of our patients.

More medical providers – every month we attract more volunteer medical providers, with additional specializations. Doctors like Tom Wallace, M.D., a retired neurosurgeon (and provisional member of the Order of Malta) who unfailingly gives of his time three days a week. Dr.Wallace serves as a mentor and inspiration to the rest of the medical staff. Doctors like Vona Lorenzana, our medical director, who puts in countless hours as she strives to leverage partnerships in the medical community so that we can offer a greater array of life-saving services while keeping expenses in check. Elsewhere in this newsletter you’ll learn a little about Dr. James Breeden. I could go on, but you get the point. All of us are grateful for these individual heroes among us, and we will profile more of these heroes in future newsletters. On a sad note, we will be saying “goodbye” in the coming months to two stalwarts on our nursing staff, Kathleen Moore and Bert Sebilia, who are retiring (again). Kathleen and Bert have been steady supporters of our organization from the day we first opened our doors. We wish them “happy trails” and all the best.

Greater Community Awareness – We are working hard to develop positive publicity about our faith-based clinic. Three months ago Mayor Libby Schaaf didn’t know we existed. Now she’s slated to visit the Clinic in January. Sara Cumbelich (provisional member) has transformed the Silver Chalice Awards Dinner into a tour de force, a must-go-to event which raises critically needed funds while honoring champions of the clinic, such as Dr. Robert J. Stein, KM, this year’s honoree. Sara and Nancy Cecconi (Dame of Malta and a regular volunteer nurse) have also launched a Malta Clinic Auxiliary to attract greater community awareness and resources to support the Clinic.

Looking Forward: We are confident 2017 will bring greater efficiencies in working with outside vendors. We are recruiting new board members brimming with passion, and hope to advance the plans to expand our physical footprint. We will also provide greater pastoral/spiritual outreach. Did you hear the one about a Dominican, a Jesuit and a social worker hanging around a medical clinic one day? It’s not the beginning of a joke. Stay tuned…exciting days are just around the corner!

Enjoy time with your families in the coming weeks. This time of year is so special. On behalf of our lords, the poor and the sick, thank you for your support.

John P. Christian, KM

On October 11th, the Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California honored Dr. Robert James Stein, KM at its 8th Annual Silver Chalice Awards Dinner at the St. Francis Yacht Club of San Francisco. The prestigious Silver Chalice Award was presented by Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone and Bishop of Oakland Michael Barber SJ. It is given annually to the individual who has contributed most to the ongoing success of the Order of Malta Clinic, a free clinic that provides medical services to the uninsured and poor in the Bay Area.

The awards dinner helped raise funds to expand the clinic’s operations from three days to four days weekly. Over the last eight years, the Order of Malta Clinic has provided over 23,000 basic medical care treatments to new and returning patients with only the support of private donations. The clinic accepts no fees or public funding for its services.

In 2006, Dr. Stein was asked to help determine the feasibility of opening the free Order of Malta Clinic at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland. Stein became part of an ongoing committee that designed the service parameters for the clinic, most of which still exists today and has allowed the clinic to exceed the two-and-a-half year average life span of faith-based clinics.

“Bob is fused into the fabric of the Order of Malta and is one of the most generous volunteers I know. From serving on the medical committee for the Order of Malta Clinic board of directors to contributing the flu shot clinic at Summit Hospital, serving the elderly at St. Anne’s Home and Mercy Retirement Center, to Lourdes medical director and vice chair of the Growing the Faith committee, Bob’s contributions are incomparable,” said John Christian, president of the clinic’s Board of Directors. “When the Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California counts their blessings—Bob is one of its greatest.”

Dr. Stein was the department chairman of Anesthesiology at Mt. Diablo Hospital Medical Center in Concord, California. There he developed significant expertise in cardiac, neurologic, obstetric, pediatric and trauma anesthesiology. After earning his doctorate in medicine from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he did a residency in medicine and anesthesiology at St. Louis City Hospital and University of California San Francisco, respectively. Stein and his spouse, Helen Mary, are long-time residents of Walnut Creek.

Each newsletter we will highlight a member of our dedicated staff or volunteer team. In this issue, we feature Dr. James H. Breeden, M.D. who has been a regular volunteer at the Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California since it first opened eight years ago.

Dr. Breeden is a graduate of Stanford University School of Medicine with residency at Harvard Affiliated Hospitals. He retired in 2009 after practicing for over 43 years. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology, specializing in Hematology and Adult T-cell Leukemia-Lymphoma.

For the past 25 years of his career, Dr. Breeden worked at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Oakland and Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Richmond. The Piedmont (CA) resident also spent three years providing patient care at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) which is the federal government’s principal agency for cancer research and training, and part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“He is such a well-qualified individual,” said Dr. Vona Lorenzana, interim medical director at the Order of Malta Clinic. “You’re not going to get physicians with the caliber and credentials that Dr. Breeden brings to the table everywhere, so we’re privileged and blessed to have his services here at the clinic.”

“I initially began supervising the resident doctors from Oakland Kaiser who volunteered their time at the Order of Malta Clinic and quickly recognized the need to provide quality care for patients who suffered from chronic medical issues and were not able to pay for the care they required,” Breeden said. “I truly enjoy spending time at the clinic, and the physicians and volunteers there are such a terrific group to work with. We really get a chance to know our patients and I find they’re extremely appreciative of the care we give them.”

Dr. Breeden is one of the many volunteer physicians, translators, administrators, and nurses who offer their time and expertise to over 2,500 uninsured patients a year in the Bay Area — making the Order of Malta Clinic one of California’s leading providers of healthcare to the area’s working poor.


On September 21st, the Oakland Raiders Wives Club teamed up with the Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California to take part in their monthly podiatry clinic for the homeless at the St. Vincent de Paul Community Center in Oakland. Along with a free foot exam and treatment by our doctors of podiatry, each patient is given a new pair of socks and a pair of gently worn shoes from the closets of an Oakland Raiders coach, player or wife.

Diana Holmes, wife of Oakland Raiders wide receiver Andre Holmes, along with her son Micah, helped out at the podiatry clinic event. Mrs. Holmes was just one of the many wives of Raiders’ players and coaches who collected and donated over 100 pair of slightly worn shoes to the cause and hundreds of new pairs of socks.

The St. Vincent de Paul / Order of Malta Podiatry Clinic collaboration is held on the third Wednesday of each month from 9:00am to 12 Noon. An average of 32 clients is seen at each clinic session. This special session with the Raiders Wives had over 40 patients in attendance.

The most common problems of the Podiatry Clinic clients are fungal infections, calluses and overgrown toe nails. All medical treatments by the podiatrist, and prescribed topical medicine and orthotics, are provided to patients free of charge.

In Oakland alone, the US Census Bureau estimates that 1 in 5 residents lives below the poverty level. A common thread they suffer is their inability to afford quality health care—so the podiatry clinic fills a critical need.

We urge you to drop off gently worn shoes and new socks at our next podiatry clinic being held on March 15th. Large shoes are welcomed. You can also drop off shoes beforehand at the Order of Malta Clinic located at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland.