by Cheryl Sinclair, volunteer Chair of RotaCare's Advisory Council
Nineteen years ago on a stormy Wednesday night, the RotaCare Coastside Clinic opened its doors for the very first time. The clinic's mission is to provide medical treatment for those most in need and least able to pay for it, the uninsured.
Last Sunday at Princeton's Mavericks Event Center, more than 80 volunteers, donors and supporters came together to celebrate the clinic's dedicated volunteers.
"The weather was just like today the night the clinic opened," said Anne Minoletti, Advisory Council member for the past nineteen years. "We thought that we would be out of business in five years. Of course that would mean that everyone would have health insurance."
More than 100 volunteers staff the clinic open every Wednesday night (holidays excepted) located at the San Mateo County Medical Center's in Half Moon Bay. The county provides free rent for the clinic, while Seton Coastside, Seton Medical Center and San Mateo County Medical Center provide referrals such as X-rays, lab work, primary care and other specialty appointments for the more than 1200 patient visits.
With the downturn of the economy, the clinic is seeing twice as many patients as it did when it first opened. People lose their jobs and eventually cannot pay for their health insurance. Formerly middle-class patients are showing up in the waiting room alongside the underserved poor who are used to waiting sometimes three hours or more to be seen by a physician.
Karen Larson, Site Administrator, who will be inducted into the Women's Hall of Fame this March, is in charge of scheduling the volunteers, as part of her duties in running the clinic. "We have the most awesome volunteers. We simply could not function without them. Some come as far as Pleasanton because they want to work in the Coastside Clinic," says, Karen.
The clinic also runs solely on donations as treatment is free to uninsured patients. Organizations like Kaiser Permanente, the Rotary Club of Half Moon Bay, Mills Peninsula Hospital, the Pearlstein Foundation, and Wells Fargo are some of the donors that keep the clinic operating.
Every year the RotaCare Coastside Clinic honors the incredible physicians, nurses, nurse practioners, translators, registrars, specialists and educators that support its mission with an anniversary party. This year they came instead of watching the 49ers playoff game. They feasted on food from Casey's Sample This! Catering, a roast pig and lumpia from , Medical Director and Founder, and roast salmon from Karen and Mike Larson.
Dr. Michelle Caughey from Kaiser honored Dr. Enriquez for her tireless work in treating the uninsured at RotaCare.
"This is work that Joy knows must be done," Caughey said.
The RotaCare Clinic is open every Wednesday night (excepting holidays) from 5 - 7:30 p.m. at 225 S. Cabrillo Highway (1st Floor), Half Moon Bay. Donations are always welcome and can be made out to RotaCare Coastside Clinic and mailed to 225 S. Cabrillo Highway, Suite 200A, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019.
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