Wichita Abdul Arif, a Wichita-based attorney who is originally from India, and a group of his friends — all immigrants from various countries — have opened a free health care clinic as a way to give back to the United States.
The clinic is named Mayflower Clinic after the ship that brought immigrants to America. It offers a full range of medical care — everything but hospitalization. It is designed to help people who are between jobs or temporarily lacking health insurance, not those who are chronically unemployed or homeless.
"They're people like, for instance, an aircraft worker who may be temporarily out of a job; that job could have been a $90,000-a-year job with all the benefits," said Bill Hess, president of College Hill Neighborhood Association. "What this clinic is designed to do is to provide benefits for that individual. I think it's a very good idea."
The clinic asks patients to show proof that they are currently uninsured.
But "We don't ask people too many questions because we do not want to strip them of their dignity," Arif said.
Arif said he sees his clinic not only as an attempt to "solve the health care crisis in our small ways that we can," but as a way to personally give back to the United States.
"The central focus of this is that this clinic is started, operated, run all by immigrants," said Arif. "Our country, the United States, has made our success possible. This is our humble way of giving back."
Arif said many immigrant doctors are specialists. He said there are several cardiologists, oncologists and infectious-disease specialists who work in Wichita and are from India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Syria.
This abundance of specialists allows the Mayflower Clinic to provide almost any type of medical care.
Even labwork is donated, also by immigrant physicians.
"We have seen quite a few complicated-situation patients who had no health insurance and had not sought care for years because they couldn't afford it," said Zartash Khan, the clinic's infectious disease specialist, who is from Pakistan. "Like this one man, he had a head injury and fluid had been draining out his ear for three years."
After all of that pain, the man received the care he needed from Mayflower.
Momo "Mo" Khan, Zartash's brother, who is in commercial real estate and serves as managing director and vice president of Mayflower Clinic, is also from Pakistan. He said the idea for Mayflower Clinic began in 2006.
"Abdul and I always talked about giving back, and we would go and talk to people and see what the need was," Mo said. "I'd talked to the doctors in the community as well, and they all shared the same feeling, but didn't have a platform to do it from. So, we proposed the clinic, and, basically, that's how it started."
Arif said the biggest challenge of founding the clinic is that neither he nor the professionals who came up with the idea have experience in the business of health care.
"Our talent is only in putting people together," Arif said.
Not one to back down from a challenge, Arif dragged his friends to what he described as an "endless series of meetings."
He said the purpose of their attendance was "to learn from other clinic providers, physicians and people who do this for a living."
Many pages of notes and months of brainstorming later, Mayflower Clinic was born.
Eustaquio Abay, a local neurosurgeon who is from the Philippines, donated space for the clinic and now volunteers there.
To make an appointment, call 316-558-3991 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday or Friday. Appointments take place at the clinic on weekends.
All the services are free.
"When the patient gets done, he walks over to the receptionist, he says, 'How much do I owe you?' and we say, 'Nothing,' " Arif said. "That's the happiest part of it — that big smile to their face. And that, in a nutshell, is why we are doing it."