Free Healthcare at SAI Clinic: Atlanta, GA
The State of Georgia has one of the highest rates of medically uninsured people in the United States. Since July 2018, the Sathya Sai Baba Center of Atlanta, Georgia, having identified this dire need, began to offer free quality healthcare for non-insured, underinsured and low-income families within the community. The innovative free healthcare services project was inspired by the Sathya Sai Mobile Hospital in India where mobile vans, outfitted with high tech medical and audio/video equipment, take health care to rural areas, where people are too sick or too poor to travel to the nearest hospitals.
The SAI clinic in Atlanta adopts a similar model of a traveling volunteer medical team that goes to where patients are in order to serve them. For instance, the SAI Clinic of Atlanta provides free loving medical care to the residents of the Atlanta Mission Homeless Shelter in downtown Atlanta on the 2nd Saturday of each month. Since November 2018, the Sai Clinic volunteers have also assisted in a free clinic on every 3rd Saturday of each month at Grace Village, which serves the refugee community of Atlanta. The team of doctors, nurses, medical students, a pharmacist and other volunteers joined the existing roster of volunteers already serving at Grace Village.
This model of delivery of medical services requires less overhead costs and has been developed in collaboration with an existing network of free healthcare providers. This has allowed the project to take off quickly, with more eager volunteers on the wait list, and resources pouring in. With God’s Grace, the SAI clinic has been able to serve an increasingly larger number of patients within a short period of time. Indeed, the number of patients one of the doctors saw jumped from 10 to 28. Patients are treated for a variety of issues: common colds, diabetes, hypertension and other ailments. Patients are able to have exams and consultation with the doctors. They are also able to receive much needed prescription medicines. At the homeless shelter, the prescription medicines are purchased at a local pharmacy and delivered to the patients. The Grace Village clinic has its own dispensary that is financially supported by church donations. It also receives discounted prescription medication from Publix and Walmart. Anonymous donations also cover the costs of labs testing.
The numbers of medical staff continue to expand as the SAI Clinic of Atlanta travels to different locations, which now also includes a women’s shelter. Over the months of operation, the Clinic has been staffed by nine doctors, six nurses, a pharmacist, an ophthalmologist, a pediatrician, two medical students, a physical therapist, two lab technicians and several volunteers in general administration. The clinic has now treated over 200 patients. Because of the addition of an ophthalmologist on staff, affiliated with the Atlanta Ophthalmological Society, the SAI clinic has also been able to provide eye screenings for 115 patients. They also provided quality glasses with high-end frames for 75 patients. The glasses were donated by "The Lighthouse” and sponsored by the Atlanta Ophthalmological Society.
Aaron Powell is the Vice-President of the Atlanta Sai Center and one of the organizers who spearheaded the project. He reflected, “One striking thing to note is just how much more of a loving and caring environment the patients find themselves in while being attended to by highly qualified physicians and medical professionals. A spiritually uplifting essence permeates the place as we are able to give service to those who truly do need it. We pray for God’s continued blessings as we grow. We strive to improve the clinics and our medical services to serve in ways that benefit those most needing of healthcare within our community."