By Faiz Ahmed
The Health Unit on Davison Avenue has provided free health care services for those uninsured in Detroit since May 2004.
The health clinic, HUDA, operates out of the Muslim Center.
It was started by founders Faisal Qazi, a neurologist who studied in Detroit, Mitchell Shamsuddin, organizer of the soup kitchen in the Muslim Center, and Zahid Sheikh, the executive director of Health Systems at Henry Ford Hospital.
HUDA started in 2001 as a small clinic with the help of a few volunteers. It was open once a week, with 2-5 patients.
“HUDA was like a ‘mom and pop store’ in its infancy,” Sheikh said.
HUDA partnered with the Muslim Physicians of Greater Detroit (MPGD) in 2004. The MPGD is a group of Muslim professionals in the medical field who wanted to start a free health clinic. Instead, they pooled resources with HUDA for its organizational structure. MPGD had the manpower.
There are now 30-40 patients per day.
HUDA provides services for patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Patients can get routine check-ups and clinical lab tests. If special services are required, HUDA staff seeks outside help from community doctors.
Along with volunteers from MPGD, HUDA has volunteers from students going into medicine, pharmacy and nursing. Huda has three paid employees, Sheikh said.
“We use volunteers because as a non-profit organization we have to control our expenses, and it also gives the message out that we are not doing this for personal gain,” he said.
“We are American Muslims and as such we care about our country and the community. We aim to provide excellent health care, educate and train young Muslims to be good community leaders who care for the society and are ready to make positive decisions for us all,” he said.
Dr. Touseef Rehman, a volunteer physician at HUDA, started working at the clinic in 2007. He said the work he does gives him a sense of satisfaction.
“Apart from treating the patients and drawing up the treatment plans, I also have to supervise the staff, students and the residents during observation,” Rehman said.
A major challenge for HUDA is the lack of medication available on hand and the choice of medicines that can be prescribed.
“There is also the added disadvantage that we lack continuity of care as each doctor looks at the medical condition of a patient from another perspective and the same doctor can’t be scheduled regularly every week,” Rehman said.
HUDA is seeking to expand.
Dr. Jukaku Tayeb, Vice Chairperson of the Board of Directors of HUDA, and President of the Board of Directors at CAIR Michigan, said a new building and volunteers from medical fields are needed to expand its services.
Tayeb said HUDA brings people of different faiths together in a single cause.
“We have volunteers from all faiths who work as a team,” Tayeb said.
According to Shamsuddin, 75 percent of patients are African American, 20 percent Bangladeshi, and 5 percent are “other.”
HUDA is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Islamic Shura Council of Michigan, Michigan Department of Community Health, Michigan State Medical Society, Muslim Physicians of Metro-Detroit, and the Muslim community.
The clinic operates on Saturdays and Wednesdays from 9.00 a.m. to 2 p.m.
If you would like to donate or volunteer at the HUDA clinic, contact Dr. Zahid Sheikh at (586) 604-1452, or visit www.hudaclinic.org.