Dr. Karim Haji

Daily Point of Light # 1081 Mar 26, 1998

Dr. Karim Haji is the founder of the Health for All clinic located in Bryan-College Station, Texas. It is the only free, private, nonprofit medical clinic providing the poor health care in its surrounding area, Brazos Valley.

Founded in May of 1987, the clinic started as a two-room hotel suite provided by his sister, when she realized that many of the people who lived in the hotel she owned were unable to afford proper medical care. Prior to the founding of Health for All, she would continually ask Dr. Haji if he could come to the hotel and see individuals who needed medical attention, which he always did with the help of his wife, Dr. Asha Haji. News of the two-room clinic spread by word-of-mouth, and as a result, the clinic's client base began to grow and with it, a need for the help of other medical professionals. Dr. Haji did whatever it took to get health care to those in need.

Ten years since its inception and three moves later, the Health for All clinic sees more than 4,200 patients a year. Open five days a week, the clinic provides comprehensive medical care, including needed medications, x-rays, and laboratory tests, free of charge to low income children and adults who have no Medicaid, Medicare, or any other form of health insurance. Free eye exams are provided twice a month, and Health for All covers the cost of children's eyeglasses. With only three paid staff members, volunteers are the heart of the clinic: more than 50 doctors and 30 nurses, eight pharmacists, four ophthalmologists, eight optometrists, and more than 60 office assistants give back to their community by volunteering their services to those in need. On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, the clinic is open from 8 am until the last person is seen, while Thursday's are appointment only for specialist care.

Because one out of every five people in Brazos Valley has no health insurance, more than 20,000 people are in need of Health for All's services.

One third of the clinic's funding comes from the cities of Bryan and College Station through Community Development Block Grants. Another third of the funding comes from St. Joseph Regional Health Care Center, United Way, Children's Miracle Network and other organizations. The final third comes from private donations. All medication is free to clinic patients. St. Joseph provides $2,500 of free medicine for the pharmacy each month, and major drug companies supply free drug samples.

In addition to serving as Health for All's medical director, Dr. Haji works one full day per week at the clinic. Several clinics in nearby towns are currently being set up under his guidance and direction.