MOUNT PLEASANT -- Indigent women will have a new option for health care thanks to the efforts of a local Veterans Affairs doctor and funding from a national Islamic relief group.
The Shifa Clinic will offer free care on Saturdays starting Jan. 7.
"The idea was just to serve and help," said Dr. Reshma Khan, 41, a gynecologist at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.
On Thursday, Imam Mohamed Melhem of Central Mosque of Charleston prayed in the waiting room of the new charity clinic, which he said is the first of its kind in the state.
"In Islam, we believe that we have to do service and help everyone," Melhem said.
Khan's vision of establishing the free health care center is coming to life through her persistence and the generosity of the Islamic Circle of North America Relief USA, which is paying the rent on the three-room clinic located in an office building on Lowcountry Boulevard.
"They are helping me set this up," she said.
She compared the process of getting the clinic running to learning how to ride a bike. After the initial cash infusion from ICNAR, she hopes the effort will become self-sustaining through local donations and grants.
Routine gynecological exams including pap smears, breast exams and mammograms will be available at Shifa Clinic. Contraception, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy testing will be offered but not obstetrics services.
The care is for uninsured women between the ages of 17 and 65, Khan said.
"I am just so happy. It is a dream come true for me," she said.
She talked of expanding the types of care if other physicians volunteer. The clinic needs nurses, she said.
"This is in the true Islamic spirit. It will make its mark," said Dr. Ghazala Javed of North Charleston.
Also on hand was the Rev. Ed Kosak of Unity Church of Charleston.
"There are a lot of people who are needing it badly," Kosak said of the clinic.
Randy Becket of Harvest Free Medical Clinic concurred. "You are going to be a blessing to the medical community and you will not be short of patients," he said.
Because the clinic space will be used one day a week, Khan is considering other purposes for it, such as tutoring students in biology.
She graduated from Ghandi Medical College in Bhopal, India, and trained in obstetrics and gynecology at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, Ohio. The nameplate on the clinic door says ICNA Relief USA-Shifa Clinic.
Shifa means "cure," she said.