Every Saturday, a cohort of physicians carves time out of busy schedules in an effort to fill a gap for health care for people in the St. Louis region.
Started by members of the Muslim Community Services of St. Louis in 2008, the Salam Clinic is a model of interfaith charity. The initiative was simple: provide free medical care to the uninsured and underinsured. Doctors of various religious backgrounds gladly signed on, including the Deaconess Nurse Ministry.
The first clinic opened in north St. Louis at Lane Tabernacle Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. The second opened its doors in 2013 in Ferguson at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ. Last November, Salam opened its third location at Epiphany United Church of Christ in St. Louis’ Benton Park neighborhood. And this Sunday, the nonprofit’s first Salam Psychiatry Clinic will open at its Ferguson location.
On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske delved into the Salam Clinic’s impact on the region and the services its latest clinic will offer. Joining the discussion were Dr. Zia Ahmad, a cardiologist who's the founder and medical director of Salam Clinic, and Dr. Syed Mumtaz, a psychologist who's coordinator of the clinic’s mental health services.
“After we started our first clinic ... what we kept hearing from the community was, ‘Are there any psychiatrists? Can you see any mental health patients?’” Ahmad said. “Psychiatry services, from what I understand, are sorely lacking, especially for the ones who are not that privileged to have health insurance.”
“You hear about different mindless acts of violence, [and] if the little work that we do can stop one mindless act of violence, one school shooting, prevent suicide, I think we would’ve done our [job], and that would be worthwhile,” Ahmad added.
Mumtaz said that in addition to treating common psychiatric and behavioral health problems for children, adolescents and adults, counseling services will also be available. A team of nine psychiatrists will be at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ from noon to 4 p.m. each Saturday for walk-ins and appointments.
“Our faith requires us to do something for others. A few hours a week is not bad, [and] it gives you a really good feeling, helping people out,” he said.
These efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by leaders in the region. St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson issued a proclamation declaring Nov. 9, 2019, to be "Salam Clinic Day in St. Louis.” And Jan. 19, 2020, was proclaimed Salam Clinic Day in St. Louis County by County Executive Sam Page.
Listen to the full conversation:
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.
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