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Berkeley Free Clinic

Nonprofit or community organization

Last modified: December 5, 2010, 11:02 PM

Description

The Berkeley Free Clinic was founded in 1969 as a
grassroots "street medicine" clinic. A group of
activists wanted to respond to an overwhelming
need for healthcare in the absence of state and
federal programs and services. Since the Clinic
opened, there has been an ever-present need for
its services, albeit a dynamic need, as social
conditions have undergone shifts and changes. It
has become something of an icon in the area, and
has served countless thousands in a variety of ways
during its long history. Its founding principles and
structures survive to this day:

Healthcare is a basic human right and should not
be linked to profit.

Fees have never been charged for any services,
medications, or supplies provided at the Berkeley
Free Clinic. The Clinic relies solely on individual or
organizational donations and government support.
We are one of the only clinics in California offering
health care free of charge. We maintain that
healthcare should be available at a level and quality
sufficient to meet the basic needs of everyone
regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation,
immigration status, income level, or any other
characteristic. Our philosophy is that healthcare is
a right, not a privilege. We are strongly opposed to
health care delivery as a profit-making industry.

A great deal of health care knowledge can and
should be available and accessible to individuals
such that they can have the power to recognize and
respond to their own health issues.

All services at the Berkeley Free Clinic emphasize
education, self-knowledge, and increasing
awareness and access to appropriate resources.
Whenever possible, our goal is to demystify health
care and other human services, both for the
volunteer members of the Clinic and for clients. We
believe that individuals and communities should be
educated and empowered with regard to their
healthcare. In practice, this means that we
emphasize education and offer referrals to help
meet any needs that are outside the scope of our
services. We attempt to include our clients in their
own care by inviting their input and observations,
and by fully describing possible solutions to their
concerns.

Healthcare should be broadly defined and
considerate of the whole being and environment,
not simply a response to isolated symptoms.

We view health as encompassing the total well-
being of a person including physical, emotional,
and environmental needs. In all our services, we
strive to relate to clients as human beings, each
with unique circumstances, resources and needs.
Our healthcare providers involve clients as
thoroughly as possible in the health care process in
order to best educate and develop appropriate
plans for each individual. One of our major issues
of concern has been the balance of control in the
provider-client interaction. Much of our struggle
has been to develop alternatives to the tendency in
the human-service industry to require that the
client give control of the management of her
physical and mental health into the hands of
"experts" taken on faith. Confidentiality is another
major sub-issue within that broader issue of
control. Our volunteer-controlled collective has
voted to sacrifice many hundreds of thousands of
dollars in available government funding
opportunities which would have required that our
clients' identity and personal histories --including
whatever labels have been slapped onto them by
professionals -- be shared with government
funding sources and other programs.

In keeping with the goals of individual
empowerment and the building of healthy
communities, we believe locally-based
organizations should enable worker participation
and responsibility. The Berkeley Free Clinic has
operated as a worker's collective since its inception.
Every volunteer has membership in the collective,
and has the right to a voice and a responsibility to
vote in all decision making processes that affect
both their specific service area as well as the entire
Clinic. Many of these Clinic volunteers move on to
further their knowledge and contribution in the
area of health in a variety of capacities throughout
the local area, the country, and the world.

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Contact information

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Website(s):
http://www.berkeleyfreeclinic.org

Phone: 510-548-2570 or 800-6-CLINIC

Fax: 510-548-1730

Address:
2339 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA, 94704, US

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