A Conversation with Dr. Vona Lorenzana, Interim Medical Director of the Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California
Since opening in 2008, the Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California, located in Oakland, has provided over 22,000 free medical appointments.
“This is a remarkable place and I’m honored to be a part of it,” said Dr. Vona Lorenzana, interim medical director, who joined the clinic in January 2015. “There is a tremendous need to provide quality healthcare in this country, especially for those who don’t have the luxury of affording it. We try to provide free medical help to patients by scheduled appointments and to make sure they’re treated with respect. We have been told this is a distinguishing characteristic from other free medical clinics in the Bay area.”
This is illustrated by the experience of a patient recently seen. The woman had been
Volunteering The Order of Malta Clinic one of Californi
“We have an incredible staff, as well as many wonderful doctors and nurses who volunteer their time – it’s a great example of teamwork. Nothing would be accomplished or be effective here without their generosity and their commitment to helping those who need it most.”
Like many of her colleagues, Dr. Lorenzana feels she gets more from her experience working at the clinic than she gives. And a big part of her motivation to help people here comes in part from scripture:
Matthew 10:8 “Heal the sick.”
Matthew 25:36 “I was sick and you looked after me.”
Luke 9:2 “We’re asked to heal the sick.”
Luke 10:9 “The call is to heal the sick.”
The mission of the clinic is to provide free medical care to the uninsured, without regard to race, creed, or religion. Most patients appreciate the care delivered.
“We also have to look at the issue from a public health viewpoint. Often, patients are in the U.S. visiting from another country. One patient recently had a question of active pulmonary tuberculosis. She may not have sought medical care if she had to pay $300 a visit. But if we can diagnose such a problem and treat that person, then we’ve saving a lot of people from acquiring such a serious disease.”
It is also important for people to know the clinic offers much more than primary care. Specialists in the fields of Cardiology, Dermatology, ENT (Ear/nose/and throat), Gastroenterology, Gynecology, Hematology Oncology and Rheumatology are here regularly. These specialist are often under-utilized because patients don’t realize they are available. One of the current goals is to organize an eye care team with a doctor spending at least four hours a month at the clinic providing diabetic eye exams.
It is important to understand this is a team effort. None of the specialists available would be able to work effectively without many volunteers including a
It is especially important for donors and potential donors to know how important they are. They are the foundation for this endeavor.
“Without thegenerous support of our donors. This endeavor could not exist without them. It’s a joint effort.”