Clinic serving Middle Eastern immigrants debuts

Written by Steve Schmi
Dr. Hanid Audish, the new clinic’s medical director.
An El Cajon social service agency on Wednesday celebrated the completion of what it says will be the nation’s first nonprofit medical clinic geared to Chaldeans and other Middle Eastern immigrants.

When it opens in a few weeks, the clinic is expected to serve some 30,000 people a year, including many from low-income families within walking distance of the Magnolia Avenue facility, according to the Chaldean and Middle-Eastern Social Services agency.

The El Cajon area has the second-largest Chaldean population in the nation, behind Detroit. An estimated 30,000 of the Iraqi Christians, along with thousands of other immigrants and refugees from across the Middle East, live in the suburb.

“More and more of these refugees are coming in and the need is rising,” said Dr. Hanid Audish, the clinic’s medical director.

The clinic includes eight examination rooms and will be staffed by six physicians, all of whom speak Arabic and other languages. It will provide family health services, along with care in pediatrics, ob-gyn and optometry.

It is located at 436 S. Magnolia Ave. and within the same building as the agency’s long-running mental health programs. The 5-year-old agency gets its funding from county and federal sources and serves all qualified residents, regardless of ethnicity.

Local elected officials, agency executives and others marked the clinic’s completion with a ribbon-cutting on Wednesday.