A team of health care professionals could have found lots of things to do to fill their Saturday, but instead of watching a football game, shopping or hanging out with family and friends, they found themselves at Carver Recreation Center giving back to the community.
The Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of Northeast Tennessee and Surrounding area hosted what they called a free health care camp with free flu shots and general health counseling from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. in honor of their national organization, the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America.
“This is actually our first health clinic. We are actually organizing this as a part of like the national health care day, which APPNA is organizing,” said Dr. Shahram Malik, president of APPNETS. “There are ... clinics like this today all over.”
Malik said that even though it’s their first time holding a clinic, they were not without patients when they opened up at 11 a.m.
“We were here a little bit before that and three patients were already waiting for us,” Malik said. “As soon as we ... started our setup, we had like about 10 patients. So, we were busy right at the beginning.”
The group, consisting of East Tennessee State University students, James H. Quillen College of Medicine Students students, one medical student from Lincoln Memorial University, as well as several local physicians, were at their stations and ready to go as people strolled into the clinic.
“Our main focus is ... to give the free flu vaccination to the needy, especially those people who are uninsured and also we are providing a free diabetic counseling –– blood sugar check, blood pressure check –– and general health care counseling,” Malik said.
He said APPNETS, which is full of multi-specialty physicians, hopes to keep the free clinics going strong by collaborating with ETSU to offer a bi-weekly free health clinic.
“I think (the free clinic) is very important, not only to this community, but any community where we live. We came from a different country. We studied here, we graduated from here, we are ... making money and doing jobs over here,” Malik said. “We feel like ... it is time to give back to the community, so that’s why we decided to provide this free service. Of course, being a free clinic and ... having limited resources, we can only do so much. But, our aims are very high.”
Nayab Chowhan read about the free health care clinic through an email and decided to show up for a free flu shot. She said she feels the free health services and flu shots are important to a lot of people in the community.
“I think it’s really nice to have these kinds of opportunities because a lot of people don’t have access,” she said.
Helping patients fill out the paperwork required for registration at the health clinic, Mo Sabri, a pre-med student at ETSU and APPNETS volunteer, said the group’s first clinic was off to a great start, and he hopes there will be many more in the future.
“We had a lot of patients today,” Sabri said. “It’s great to see the diversity of people that came. We had people from all walks of life come here ... and we’re very happy to help them.”