Closing the doors at the Haight Asbhury Free Clinic, a pioneer of affordable healthcare

Photo: Camden Avery/Hoodline
By Camden Avery - Published on July 30, 2019.

After 52 years, a pioneering cornerstone of the Upper Haight will be closing its doors for general service.

SF Weekly reported this week that this month is the end of the line for the current incarnation of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, which was founded in 1967 by Dr. David Smith as an experiment in democratic healthcare.

Citing a reduced demand for services, the clinic's operator, HealthRight360, told SF Weekly it will shutter both the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic and  Tenderloin Health Services, another of its clinics, to consolidate care into the new campus at Mission and Van Ness.

The Haight's free clinic was the first of its kind when it opened its doors in the summer of 1967, providing free medical care to some of the tens of thousands of people who flocked to the neighborhood for the Summer of Love.

From antibiotics to checkups to correcting overdoses and helping people come down from a bad acid trip, the clinic was founded as a safety net for people most at risk of going untreated.

SF Weekly reports that this isn't the absolute end for the free clinic, though: HealthRIGHT360 will have a medical van for patient outreach in service by September, and the Homeless Youth Alliance will continue to use the former clinic for now as a site for its needle exchange and drop-in hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

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