The recently formed partnership between IMAN and the Chicago Muslim Dental Society (CMDS) has already yielded significant, mutual benefits. After the formal launch of a biweekly “working group” last month, IMAN’s Oral Health work has received crucial advice on best practices, generous donations of industry-standard equipment, and a growing pool of volunteer dentists. At the same time, CMDS has been able to make a tremendous impact in a Chicago community that is drastically underserved with regard to oral health.
Volunteer relationships and community partnerships have always been central to the mission and expansion of our larger health and wellness work. Since the launch of IMAN’s Oral Health Clinic in 2016, plans for strategic, holistic expansion have been prepared. What began as basic dental screenings and referrals has now grown into a fully operational oral health center serving a growing number of local patients.
IMAN’s relationship with CMDS pre-dates its Oral Health Clinic, initiated through a bond with a long-time supporter. Understanding the dire need for accessible, affordable dental care on Chicago’s Southwest Side, both organizations brought their expertise to the table in order to build the infrastructure necessary for a meaningful intervention. As IMAN’s Health Clinic offerings-including oral health-continue to grow, the CMDS partnership demonstrates the profound impact of a broader Chicagoland Muslim health community which truly believes in and contributes to delivering dignified care to individuals and families most directly-affected by health crises.
Pursuing its mission to foster health, wellness and healing in the inner-city, IMAN has provided primary healthcare services to residents of Chicago Lawn and neighboring communities for over 15 years. A longtime patient asked our Clinic staff earlier this year: “When are you going to get a dentist?” That time has now come. After several years of engagement and planning with residents, healthcare leaders and supporters, IMAN’s Oral Health Center opened its doors on May 15th.
IMAN serves an area that has been designated as a dental Health Profession Shortage Area (HPSA), meaning that there are too few dentists to adequately serve the community’s needs. A dental HPSA, at best, contains one dentist for every 5,000 people. With the generous support of Zakat Foundation of America and United Muslim Relief, IMAN now offers dental screenings, teeth cleaning, fluoride application and oral health education every Sunday. We are blessed to have Dr. Susana Torres, who is bilingual and can serve both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking patients. Patients requiring additional treatment will be referred to St. Bernard Hospital or the Health Care Center Dental Clinic.
For many, dental care too often goes unaddressed. When teeth are unhealthy, the rest of the body is likely to suffer negative consequences. Poor oral health can lead to heart attacks, irregular and erratic blood sugar levels, infections, and permanent loss of teeth; not to mention severe pain and difficulty chewing and speaking.
IMAN is in the process of applying to become a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), which will enable us to serve more patients in the Clinic and to expand dental services. Providing dental services is a requirement to achieve FQHC status. God willing, the IMAN Oral Health Center will extend its hours, as well as expand its services to include x-rays, fillings, extractions, and treatment for gum disease.
Led by Regional Organizer Mansoor Sabree, the IMAN Atlanta Project gained significant traction in all aspects of its mission this past month, from aligning with local legislators on pressing social justice issues to setting the stage for April’s first-ever CommUNITY Café in Atlanta.
In early March, Sabree traveled to the Georgia State Capitol as a part of the Georgia Justice Project’s annual Lobby Day. Upholding IMAN’s commitment to criminal justice reform, he drummed up support for Georgia Senate Bill 367, which is designed to remove barriers to employment that employment that impede the reintegration of the formerly incarcerated into society. The IMAN Atlanta team stays in close contact with the Chicago headquarters in order to align with its efforts to pass the Removing Invisible Bars Bill (Illinois SB 2282), which is focused on substantial parole reform measures.
IMAN Atlanta supporter base was significantly deepened after Sabree and IMAN Executive Director Rami Nashashibi attended the Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN) quarterly breakfast gathering. They shared IMAN Atlanta’s vision and achievements, thereby strengthening important networks and relationships. Sabree and Nashashibi also took advantage of their time together to visit like-minded organizations and potential partners like Greening Youth.
Be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, April 23rd, which will be the first CommUNITY Café held in Atlanta. CommUNITY Café: 1000 Mile Journey is headlined by Washington, D.C.-area rapper Oddisee, and will be the IMAN Atlanta Project’s entrée into the storied Georgia arts community. Follow IMAN Atlanta on Facebook for the latest news and updates!
Many of the 2000 patients who have visited IMAN’s Free Community Health Clinic in 2015 have come in sick and often very tired.
Though the most recent Affordable Care Act victory continues to protect the health care subsidies of millions of Americans, millions more remain outside of that safety net. So many still lack access to quality, culturally competent health care, and are still sick and tired of dealing with the vast array of health issues prevalent in working-class communities of color like IMAN’s. In 2015, our patients have come from almost every zip code in the city. Whether they were seeking basic primary care or behavioral health counseling, IMAN doctors, nurses, volunteers and staff continue to do everything in their power to treat these individuals with the compassion and dignity they deserve.
In the year since IMAN’s Health Clinic was designated “Best Affordable Health Care” in Chicago Reader’s “Best Of” series, it has continued to grow and expand. Not only have our hours and services increased, but also has our progress towards the larger vision of becoming a Federally Qualified Health Center, with even more resources and opportunities available for all of our patients.
One day soon, God willing, IMAN’s clinic will be significantly sustained via the resources generated through a federally reimbursed billing process. For now, though, this clinic and its thousands of patients across the Chicagoland area rely on YOU.
Please make your tax-deductible and zakat-eligible donation to IMAN’s 2015 Ramadan Drive today to help sustain and grow these vital, life-giving services in this sacred month.