Dr. Reshma Khan's Shifa Free Clinic served nearly 4,000 people in the Charleston area last year and aims to expand its reach. | Photo by Ruta Smith

Shifa Free Clinic, a nonprofit that provides medical care and hunger prevention resources, can now provide more help to Lowcountry residents at its newly unveiled location on Daniel Island.

 “We were outgrowing the [Mount Pleasant] space,” said Dr. Reshma Khan, the clinic’s founder and executive director.

The new 5,000-square-foot Daniel Island facility unveiled at 668 Marina Drive in late January is more than twice the size of the previous  2,300-square-foot location. Shifa staff members and volunteers now have more operating space to increase efficiency and can accommodate more patients. Shifa Clinic had 3,690 medical visits last year, Khan said, and the “ultimate goal by the end of the next three years” is to reach 6,000 medical visits, consistent with a projected growth of 18% each year. 

The Shifa Clinic is offering our community [in] the Lowcountry compassionate and high-quality medical care to uninsured residents regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or national origin,” Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg told the Charleston City Paper. “It will continue to make a huge difference for our citizens in need.”

Shifa provides services to individuals and households who are uninsured and earning less than 250% of the federal poverty level, which Khan said is a standard across free clinics. For example, a family of four earning an annual income of $69,375 in 2022 would fall within the federal poverty line, according to federal guidelines. The clinic’s website details eligibility based on family size and income. 

The clinic offers primary care, prenatal, gynecological, pediatric, vision and dermatology services and operates an onsite medication dispensary. It partners with Direct Relief and Americares to provide no-cost medication and with LabCorp to provide no-cost lab work. Through partnerships with area clinics and hospitals, Shifa offers free colon and breast cancer screenings, comprehensive prenatal care from conception to delivery and in-house minor procedures.

Shifa Free Clinic was founded in 2012 as a chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Relief, a grassroots umbrella organization that provides a network of health clinics, shelters, food pantries, disaster relief and more. 

Since October 2022, the clinic has run a $4 million public donation campaign to furnish the cost of the Daniel Island building and additionally fund the next three years of operating expenses. ICNA Relief purchased the building on behalf of the clinic to accommodate the growing need. To donate, visit icnarelief.org/shifaclinics/campaign

“Our comprehensive campaign has two parts: $1.5 million covers the cost of the facility and renovations and $2.5 million covers the operating expenses for next three years,” Khan said.

On an annual basis, 45% to 50% of Shifa’s funding is from competitive grants applied for on a regular basis from regional organizations, she said, such as the City of Charleston, New Morning Foundation, Sisters of Charity Foundation of S.C, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, S.C. Free Clinic Association and Trident United Way. The rest of Shifa’s annual funding comes from fundraising events and individual donors. 

The clinic provides a number of community outreach and hunger prevention programs, including an onsite food pantry and monthly grocery deliveries and giveaways. The Lowcountry Food Bank and the United States Department of Agriculture partner with Shifa to supply the food pantry. 

“We have four major programs,” Khan said. “The first is the onsite food pantry. The second is the child hunger prevention program [in which] we partner with Eagle Nest Elementary School and donate bags [of food] for children. Then there is the partnership with Amazon [that] provides home deliveries to about 250 families a month. There are also community giveaways once every two to three months, which is a farmers market style giveaway with fresh produce.”

Khan said last year the clinic’s food pantry served close to 30,000 individuals and aims to serve about 70,000 individuals within the next few years.

“Make things better for people — that has been the whole reason why the clinic was started,” Khan said.

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