The 32nd verse of the fifth chapter of the Quran says: “Whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.”
“When I read that, I was in awe,” said Nehath Sheriff, 23, who graduated from the University of Washington in 2015 with a degree in public health.
Based on that inspiration, Sheriff helped to establish a new non-profit health clinic to provide free or subsidized care for low-income patients at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound’s mosque in Redmond.
The Redmond clinic, run by the Muslim Association of Puget Sound and the Muslim Community Resource Center in collaboration with Rainier Valley Community Clinic, is first of its kind in the state to be based in a mosque.
The Redmond clinic held its first public session last Sunday from 10 a.m. to almost 2 p.m with 15 patients. The basic check-ups were like those in a physician’s office except that no blood or urine samples were taken.
The new clinic has partnerships with local hospitals where patients can follow-up with free continuing health care.
The clinic based at MAPS is scheduled to open from 10 a.m. to at least 1 p.m on the third Sunday of each month.
Sheriff hopes that the clinic will pick up more patients as time passes, hoping to expand the hours and days that the clinic will be held each month. She hopes the clinic will eventually get access to a van and can visit homeless encampments.
Sheriff cited her religious education in Islam as prompting her calling to the medical field.
“I don’t understand why I’m so blessed while others struggle,” Sheriff said.
The new free clinic began as an undergraduate class project for Sheriff. She had been volunteering with several social and health organizations, which included the Rainier Valley Community Clinic, which is in south Seattle.
The Rainier Valley clinic is the paperwork and insurance umbrella for the fledgling Redmond clinic at MAPS.
Sheriff plans attend George Washington University this fall to earn a master’s degree in public health before going to medical school to become a primary care physician.
The partner organizations continue to run the mosque’s clinic when Sheriff heads east to go to graduate school in Washington, D.C.
Volunteering at the clinic on Sunday were doctors Sadia Habib, Humera Ali and Leah Spellen; acupuncturist Mariko Fujita and several nurses and aides. The clinic advertises at at mosques, women’s shelters and various community and social work centers.
“Providing care for the underserved is very gratifying,” Habib said.
Habib and Sheriff said there are major gaps in King County in which the poor lack access to basic medical check-ups.
The Redmond mosque’s clinic “is a small piece in the puzzle,” Habib said.