The following was published in the April 7th edition of the Marin Independent Journal:
Marin Voice: As services expand, Community Clinics marks 50 years of health care
In 1972, Marin Community Clinics’ founders – a small team of volunteer physicians and nurses working from a modest church basement – started the organization with an honorable concept: to provide basic medical care for those that didn’t have anywhere else to turn.
This year marks Marin Community Clinics’ 50th anniversary, a milestone that provides an opportunity to step back, reflect and inspire the vision for our future.
In the decades since our founding, Marin’s population surged. With it, our once-tiny organization grew into a thriving network of modern clinics offering a breadth and depth of services and programs. Marin Community Clinics is a federally qualified health center that is nationally recognized for its high quality.
Today, nearly one in five Marin residents call Community Clinics their health care home. Our team of about 600 dedicated and compassionate staff include expert physicians and clinicians, nurses, medical assistants, case managers and many more. You may know someone who benefits or has benefitted from the clinics’ life-changing services. We serve a population once referred to as “the medically underserved,” but I can attest that is no longer the case. We’ve come a long way.
For all the extraordinary growth and technological advancements that elevated the efficiency and the quality of care we provide, one thing remains constant throughout the years: the heart and soul of this organization.
That’s something hard to define through institutional core values or a well-crafted mission statement. The best word I can think of that begins to describe the culture that sets Marin Community Clinics apart is right there in the name: community.
Marin Community Clinics is part of a larger community that goes beyond our walls. It’s the wonderful people that live here and work to make it a better and healthier place. It is the partnerships that we’ve built in collaborating with Marin County officials and community-based organizations. It is our donors, volunteers and supporters. All of them make our work possible. The clinics would not have survived this long without such a supportive network. For that, we are grateful.
Throughout the pandemic, the power of community has been on full display. Marin’s response has been nothing short of inspiring – a model example of what to do in a public health emergency.
At Community Clinics, our priority remains our patients and this community. We have earned trust and respect. We proudly uphold the responsibility that comes with that. We have developed systems to keep the doors open, administered thousands of COVID-19 tests, as well as vaccines, and distributed thousands more rapid tests and N-95 masks. We’re ready for what may come next.
After two years of pandemic life, the lessons have been plentiful. Our most important lesson has been the confirmation that the need for health care services (for everyone) is imperative for our society. It isn’t going away – it exists now more than ever.
Where do we go from here? I am thrilled to announce that we have a plan to address the need for our services and to expand access.
This spring, we’ll open a brand new clinic – the West San Rafael Clinic located at 1618 Second St.The new space is one part of our multifaceted initiative to expand access to services. It will allow the Community Clinics to pilot innovative programs for adult care, enhance convenient telehealth care technology and improve access for those living in San Rafael, San Anselmo, Fairfax and surrounding areas.
To scale up our dental capacity for adults, a separate project involves expanding and renovating the dental complex located at 411 Fourth St. in San Rafael. Once renovations are complete, we anticipate a 78% boost in the dental program’s capacity.
As we celebrate both our 50th anniversary and these exciting developments, I am certain our founders would be proud of where we are right now – touching lives through health. In today’s complicated world, it’s heartening to know that our community hasn’t lost sight of the simple concept that started it all: We’re here to get people the care they need. We’re better off for it.
Dr. Mitesh Popat, of Novato, is CEO of Marin Community Clinics.