HealthLinks Magazine May/June 2018

76 | | On Johnnie Dodds Boulevard in Mount Pleasant, an unassuming brick building is home to the Shifa Clinic, a completely free medical facility intended to aid uninsured and underserved members of the community. Opened in 2012, the clinic was the brainchild of Dr. Reshma Khan, who had long dreamed of creating a free-of-charge gynecology office. Inspired by her Islamic faith, which places a significant emphasis on com- passion and charity, Dr. Khan sought out assistance from the Islamic Circle of North America. At the time, she was working at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Cen- ter, but now she volunteers full-time at the clinic, which has expanded to offer primary care, dermatology, pediatrics, mental health, vision, preg- nancy care, free vaccinations, and soon, dentistry. This spring, Dr. Andy Kloch, a general dentist based in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, will help Shifa Clinic kick off the newly established dental services. “We’re going to start out as just an extraction-only clinic until we really get our feet on the ground,” Dr. Kloch explained. “I’ll volunteer once or twice a month in the beginning to help with screenings, and, if anyone needs a tooth pulled, we’ll be able to take care of them and get rid of their pain.” Though services will be limited in the beginning, the clinic intends to eventually offer a full array of dental procedures. “Going forward, our goal is to expand our treatment to include fillings, hygiene and eventually become a fully functional clinic,” he said. While the dental clinic is on track to open in the early summer, it took time for the idea to gain traction. Dr. Khan considered offering dental services a couple years ago, but the wish didn’t became a reality until the last six months. Run entirely on donations and volunteer work, Shifa Clinic does not rely on any government funding, so it can be difficult to raise enough money to purchase expensive medical equipment, medications and other necessary supplies. When Dr. William Altman, a recently retired Surfside Beach dentist, heard about Dr. Kloch’s involvement with the clinic, he decided to donate tens of thou- sands of dollars worth of dental equipment. “He was an enormous help,” said Dr. Kloch. “We were having so much trouble getting anything in the beginning, then he donat- ed almost all of the equipment we’ll be using – digital X-rays, the chairs, the actual delivery systems used to perform the fillings and other services. The generosity of donors such as Dr. Altman and many more were an extremely significant part of beginning the dental clinic. However, without the help of dedicated volunteers, the clinic would not be able to function. All current medical services offered by Shifa are performed by hardworking medical professionals who devote their free time to assisting patients in need. Once the clinic has found its footing, Shifa hopes to attract more local current and retired dentists as well as hygienists to volunteer so that the clinic can be offered more often and benefit more people. Dr. Andy Kloch and Hannah Kloch will be the initial dentist and dental assistant. They are actively looking for additional dental professionals to join Shifa’s team of volunteers. MUSC dental students with Dr. Gwendolyn Brown at a Headstart oral screening event at Shifa.