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The majority of the patients who visit the clinic are Muslim, mainly of the older generation especially who although may have been in America for a while still maintain their culture growing up. As Mehdi explained, people “tend to feel comfortable with people similar to their own background,” especially when providing treatment in accordance to their faith.1 As follows, when a Somali doctor works at the clinic, Mehdi explained, the clinic receives an influx of patients because of the large Somali community in Minnesota. In addition to a shared background, a common language is crucial for most immigrants. Having a common language allows immigrant patients to better express themselves and to explain their pain or problem to their doctors in a way that might have otherwise been difficulties with a language barrier.
All quotes and information from interview with Imran Moleazay and Mehdi Khan. 16 May 2016. ↩
Although the majority of the patients are Muslims, people from other faiths and other backgrounds are encouraged from visiting the clinic. As Imran explained “the clinic is essentially like any other clinic” and is open to all, regardless of race, gender, faith, etc. and is determined to help to broader community. “We are not trying to force conversions or force people into Islam… we are just trying to treat.” As Mehdi explained, “our religious duty is to, no matter what background, take care of each other… all of us are brothers and sisters.” The clinic is open to accommodations, as their main concern is that their patients feel comfortable. If the situation were to occur, the clinic would be happy to find people to speak the patient’s language to help each patient feel comfortable and ensure that they receive the right treatment.
The clinic has been working hard to expand its patient base beyond the Muslim community, promoting not only through their website, but also through local doctors. Imran and Mehdi, as well as the other doctors and volunteers working at the clinic, make sure to inform their colleagues of the Al Rahma clinic and encourage them to pass the word to their patients. These local doctors, thus, have been essential in the promoting process, encouraging their patients, especially those who are uninsured or underinsured, to take advantage of the clinic. Noting the large Hmong and Hindu population in Minnesota, Mehdi hopes to build connections with other communities, hoping to see an expanded and more diverse patient base. As Mehdi explained, “When someone comes in from a different faith, we start a conversation” and encourage them to spread the word in their community.