Category: Monthly Newsletter

From the San Francisco Chronicle, Otis R. Taylor, Jr.

Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Fred Pons has knobby knuckles and the coarse hands of a jack-of-all-trades handyman.

The El Sobrante resident is a house painter, but when he’s not painting, he does odd jobs like landscaping to make ends meet.

Landscaping is how he got the spider bite this summer.

He was bitten on a Wednesday evening as he cleared wood chips from a yard in Berkeley. His hand and forearm swelled so that he looked like Popeye after scarfing down a can of spinach. He felt as if his hand was under a heating lamp. And he had a fever.

But instead of going to the emergency room, Pons gambled with his health. He has no health insurance and was afraid he’d struggle to pay any medical bills if he sought emergency help.

So, he waited until Friday morning to get medical help.

That’s when he went to the Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California, a free clinic in Oakland that’s open Monday, Wednesday and Friday for walk-ins, and Tuesday for appointments.

Continue Reading …

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