Clarkston clinic remains crowded amid travel ban, seeks help


So many patients showed up last Sunday at the Clarkston Community Health Center that the free clinic had to start turning people away. The nonprofit center could take only 55 people that day.

That’s not an uncommon occurrence at the volunteer-run clinic, which serves many impoverished immigrants and refugees as well as U.S.-born patients who lack health insurance. Since the clinic opened in 2015, patients have been coming from as far away as Birmingham, Ala., and Columbia, S.C. 

And it is staying busy, despite President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which has temporarily barred visitors from six Muslim-majority countries and halted America’s refugee resettlement program. 

RELATED: New Trump travel ban has broad implications for Atlanta region

The clinic’s co-founders cited many reasons for the high demand. First, Clarkston - nicknamed the Ellis Island of the South - is a major destination for many immigrants and refugees. Second, they point to Georgia’s decision not to expand Medicaid, a health insurance program for the poor, under the Affordable Care Act. And third, the word is getting out about their clinic, which offers free medical and dental care as well as interpreters for patients who don’t speak English fluently. 

“We are busting at the seams. We are so busy,” Saeed Raees, the clinic’s president and one of its co-founders, said as he surveyed his crowded waiting rooms Sunday. 

Many of the volunteer doctors and nurses come from nearby schools, including Emory University. The Emory Refugee-Medical Alliance, a student-run group, recently hosted an event on campus to spread awareness about refugees’ health needs and to encourage volunteering at the clinic and elsewhere. By working at the clinic, the medical students get a chance to learn from veteran doctors who volunteer there. 

Stone Mountain resident Kettlie Frederic Syline, 60, a lawful permanent resident from Haiti, was among those who showed up at the clinic Sunday for help. She suffers from high blood pressure. One of the clinic’s other founders, Dr. Gulshan Harjee, ordered a blood test and an electrocardiogram for Syline and then gave her a prescription for some medication. 

“The need for healthcare is so great,” Harjee said. “And the price is right here.” 

Syline was grateful for the clinic’s help. 

“Thank God they take patients here,” she said in Creole, speaking through an interpreter. “God bless the nurses and everybody.” 

The clinic is seeking volunteers and donations so it can expand its services. Find out how you could help here: www.clarkstonhealth.org


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

8 Gwinnett students named U.S. Presidential Scholar candidates
8 Gwinnett students named U.S. Presidential Scholar candidates

Eight Gwinnett County Public Schools students have been named candidates for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, the U.S. Department of Education announced. READ | Gwinnett JROTC leader resigns after ‘inappropriate comments’ reported Up to 161 students receive the designation of U.S. Presidential Scholar each year. Hundreds...
Magically delicious: Unicorns added to Lucky Charms lineup
Magically delicious: Unicorns added to Lucky Charms lineup

Unicorns are now magically delicious as Lucky Charms has introduced the first permanent change to its product in 10 years. General Mills, the parent company for the cereal, announced in a news release that magical unicorn marshmallows will be a permanent part of the breakfast food. It replaces the hourglass marshmallow that was retired earlier...
R. Kelly evicted from N. Fulton homes, owes $30K, court documents show
R. Kelly evicted from N. Fulton homes, owes $30K, court documents show

If R. Kelly wants to keep stepping in the name of love in north Fulton County, he’ll have to find a new home. Filings with the magistrate court of Fulton County from Feb. 13 show that the Grammy-winning R&B singer has been evicted from two homes he was renting in Johns Creek. The documents show that Kelly owes SB Property Management Global, LLC...
‘Breakdown’ podcast on McIver resumes: ‘All of a sudden we hear the bam’
‘Breakdown’ podcast on McIver resumes: ‘All of a sudden we hear the bam’

The AJC’s “Breakdown” podcast on Claud “Tex” McIver, which ended after three episodes last fall when the judge decided to delay the trial, will resume this month. McIver is scheduled to go on on trial on March 5 in the death of his wife, Diane, whom he shot in the back as the two rode in their SUV near Piedmont Park in...
Fictitious ‘Real Shelter Dogs of Georgia’ cast featured on Bravo site
Fictitious ‘Real Shelter Dogs of Georgia’ cast featured on Bravo site

A metro Atlanta organization was recently featured in an article on Bravo’s website that floated the concept of the “Real Shelter Dogs of Georgia.” Six dogs from LifeLine Animal Project were included in the story, which channeled the network’s popular “Real Housewives of Atlanta” show. Juno, My BFF...
More Stories