The following editorial by the Marin IJ Editorial Board appeared in the December 19 edition of the Marin Independent Journal:
Dr. Mitesh Popat’s departure as head of the Marin Community Clinics is a loss of talented and dedicated leadership.
It is also an important milestone, one that reflects the reality that beneath Marin’s affluent image there are thousands of households who struggle to live and work here.
To them, the affordable medical care the clinics provide is vital. Under Popat’s leadership, the clinics have expanded in size, locations and scope to meet that critical need.
Popat, who has headed the local nonprofit since 2017, can look back on a term of impressive accomplishment.
He’s leaving, returning to Southern California, to become chief executive of the Venice Family Clinic.
Over its 50 years, the Marin Community Clinics has grown dramatically from a temporary building that stood in the shadow of Marin General Hospital, to 10 local health centers, from Larkspur to Novato. Its staff has grown to more than 580 medical and health professionals.
Most importantly, its doors and care are open to some 38,000 patients a year – nearly 15% of Marin’s population.
The nonprofit’s qualification as a federally qualified health center is not only proof of its local need, but the important service it provides in caring for patients who show up at its centers. In many cases, that care is important to the public health of the community.
As its website promises: “Our medical doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners serve all members of the community, regardless of insurance status.”
The center has played an important role during the pandemic in seeing that low-income Latino households have had access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccinations. In fact, MCC opened a respiratory clinic during the pandemic.
Finding a talented replacement for Popat will be an important responsibility for the MCC board. It has hired an executive search firm to help find top-quality candidates.
Its growth – to meet a local need – has been both important and impressive.
Popat and the board’s leadership has helped keep community support and awareness growing to raise grants and donations to meet the need.
In 2017, after serving as the clinics’ medical chief and taking over as its CEO, Popat commented, “Community clinics play a vital role in the health of the overall community, and our mission is now more important than ever. We provide top quality care, have an extremely strong team, and are financially strong.”
With support from the community, as well as dedicated local medical talent, he has added to that foundation.
The Marin Community Clinics’ growth and success in meeting that need is an example of our county taking care of our fellow residents, regardless of their incomes.
It is a recognition that not everyone has their medical costs covered by workplace insurance or Medicare.
There’s a lot more to Marin beneath its shorthand image as a land of million-dollar houses.
Popat’s leadership and care reminded us of the reality, both in his advocacy and his work expanding much-needed affordable medical care to all.