Local Muslim-run clinic helps make a difference in the community

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On SW 13th Street, hidden behind the Hoda Islamic Center lies a small clinic with an equally small staff.

Doctor Mustafa Ahmed is a cardiologist and the co-founder of the RAHMA Mercy Clinic.

Years ago, he says the mosque saw a need for a clinic to help serve low incomes families.

"It really represented a wonderful organic mission from the Muslim community to try to engage with the greater Gainesville community in how we could simply just help people out," says Dr. Ahmed.

Back in 2010 a report came out about healthcare in Alachua County.

"A Healthy Needs Assessment, which demonstrated very quickly that Alachua County has a large deficit in in terms of primary care providers and difficulty with accessing quality healthcare," says Dr. Ahmed.

He says over 85% of their patients are not even from an Islamic faith background.

"And it's been just a wonderful way to interact with people from all sorts of backgrounds, regardless of faith," says Ahmed.

The RAHMA Mercy Clinic's main job is to help those who can't afford to get medical attention by providing basic care for free.

"We've been able to partner with Walmart, partner with Quest , with voucher programs so we can get patients laboratory assessments at no cost, we can get them certain medications at no cost," he says.

The clinic is completely made up of volunteers and it does have it's challenges, like dealing with limited resources.

"Everything that we do is based on just volunteers and financial donations," says Livia Sura, the clinical volunteer coordinator.

The location and hours have also been a struggle.

"The majority of our patients rely on public transportation and since we are open on Saturdays, the bus system does not run as frequently on Saturdays, some the patients complain that they have to take a longer walk to get here," says Sura.

Most of the clinic's volunteers are local area doctors, but others are college students like Aysha Awal.

Awal says being a volunteer gives her a chance to learn more about pursuing a career in medicine.

"It makes me kind of be excited to be in that field because I get to play a part in helping them and come up with a solution for them.

And Awal says even after she gets into medical school, she will still want to give back to the center.

"I would like to continue volunteering here because the patients here make this place great," says Awal.

The clinic is mostly supported by donations and help from the community, if you would like to get involved you can click HERE and fill out a volunteer form or donate.

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