When Ari S. was 23 years old, he left his native Brazil because of political unrest and relocated to America, eventually settling in Marin County. He first worked as a dishwasher, then in construction. His intensely physical lifestyle and years of construction work led to several injuries and asbestos exposure. He credits Marin Community Clinics with saving his life.
Ari says his experience receiving care at Marin Community Clinics changed his whole outlook on life. “When I became an American citizen, I knew I could make my own way,” the 60-year-old says. “But when I became very sick with cancer, a collapsed lung and psychological challenges, Dr. Xavier Perez at Marin Community Clinics treated me so well, looked at me as a whole person, and listened and believed in me.”
Founded in 1972, Marin Community Clinics provides affordable health care to uninsured and low-income residents of Marin County, and anyone who may need comprehensive medical, dental and behavioral health services. Annually, the clinics serve nearly 40,000 patients, regardless of their abilities to pay.
“We’re a Federally Qualified Health Center and have eight clinical sites offering a wide range of services,” says Melanie Thompson, chief medical officer. “Our mission is to promote health and wellness through excellent, compassionate care for all.”
Thompson joined Marin Community Clinics in 2015. In addition to overseeing all clinical staff and specialists, she is a family medicine physician with a specialty in obesity prevention in children and adults. “Our power is our people,” she says. “We know that our patients face barriers to care, including transportation and the ability to get time off work, so the more we can bring to our clinic sites, the more accessible we make needed care to those we serve.”
Silva has experienced this team approach — a network of support that he says makes him emotional to talk about — on numerous occasions. When he received a lung transplant, his doctor at UCSF gave him a life expectancy of three to five years. That was seven years ago.
“I was initially confused after my operation, but Marin Community Clinics staff watched me carefully and guided me through the process,” Silva says. “They all supported me and pushed me to live life. After working with Dr. Perez, a nutritionist and therapist at the clinic, my weight dropped from 260 pounds to 185 pounds.”
Silva says the comprehensive attention he received at the Marin Community Clinics changed the trajectory of his life, from the prospect of very little outside mobility to a resumption of being outdoors and interacting with others. The clinics provide important primary care and specialty services for tens of thousands of Marin residents each year, including the many lower income residents often forgotten about in a county known for its affluence.
Supporting Marin Community Clinics means supporting equitable health care and an overall healthier community. Visit Marin Community Clinics’ website to learn more about this important organization, and consider making a gift today to support life-changing care for those who need it.