Muslim Free Clinic Serves San Antonio Poor

SAN ANTONIO – Like no other clinic in San Antonio, El Bari Community Health Clinic remains the only health facility in the city that provides its services totally free of charge.

“We will treat everyone who comes in, even those with insurance,” Dr. Suhaib Haq, who, along with his wife, Dr. Sarah Samreen, founded the clinic, told San Antonio Express News.

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Run by an all-Muslim volunteering staff, it opens only on Friday and Sunday to serve the needy in the city.

El Bari clinic operates out of a nondescript building owned by the Muslim Children Education and Civic Center next door.

Haq said the clinic’s patients generally fall into several categories, the working poor who don’t get benefits like medical insurance, noncitizens, students, and visitors to San Antonio.

“After expenses, there’s usually very little left over for medical care,” he said.

“We’re here to try to prevent ER visits, hospitalizations, strokes, things like that. We’ve even caught several early cancers.”

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At the clinic, a patient called Kathy came to have her foot and ear looked at. She tripped recently, has been in pain since and was worried she needed an antibiotic.

“I was homeless for a while and don’t have insurance,” she said, adding that the clinic was her only option to get medical service.

“My daughter’s in the Navy and I’m living with her now. But she can’t put me on her insurance.”

Both Samreen and Haq credit their religious beliefs for serving as the foundation for their efforts.

“Apart from my relationship with God, this is the most important thing in my life,” Samreen said.

“The way I eat to feed my body, working here feeds my soul.”

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