Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, newly reopened, seeks volunteers

Photo: Camden Avery/Hoodline
By Camden Avery - Published on March 13, 2020.

A new chapter began this month for the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, the revolutionary free healthcare provider that closed its doors last summer.

At the time, the clinic's operator, HealthRight360, cited difficult access, small size and a lack of viable reimbursement-based funding to keep the clinic's doors open.

But earlier this month, as part of a soft and experimental reopening phase, the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic opened for basic services on Thursdays from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., attended by a volunteer doctor.

"Our goal was always to bring it back to its roots and reinvent it as a volunteer clinic," said Lauren Kahn, HealthRight 360's director of public affairs. "We had to put a lot of love into that clinic and it's really important to us. For us it really goes to who we are as an organization."

Kahn said that in reopening the clinic gradually, and being open for now only one day a week, they were trying "not to sacrifice the good for the perfect," but to "get moving as soon as we can with what we have."

Right now, what they have is one doctor a week who can provide drop-in urgent care and primary care on Thursdays.

Maribel Baez, HealthRight's vice president of medical services, said they're currently offering urgent care, some vaccinations, routine checkups, evaluation and treatment of chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, STI checks, tuberculosis and Hepatitis A testing and treatment, and services for people who take recreational and intravenous drugs.

Baez said that staffing the clinic with volunteers "totally changes the financial outlook" and the clinic's viability. Though HealthRight regularly staffs volunteers, she said, having a wholly-volunteer staffed clinic was a new endeavor. 

The next step, she said, is to land a volunteer nurse practitioner for one day a week, but the goal is to be open five days a week before long.

Once the facility is fully staffed, "all of the services that we provide to the Haight will eventually mirror what our other clinics are offering," Baez said.

Homeless Youth Alliance will continue to use the Free Clinic space for its needle exchange and medical services drop-in center, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

If you're interested in applying to volunteer at the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, they're currently screening and accepting applicants.

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