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A Beshert Happening: Crossing Paths with the UMMA Community Clinic

by Lia Mandelbaum

December 22, 2012 | 8:51 am

On December 8, I met my dear friends at John C. Fremont High School for the celebration of the brand new UMMA Community Clinic located on the school grounds.  The event included a memorial honoring the life of Dr. Steven Sadler, who was a prominent Beverly Hills anesthesiologist and pain management specialist.  He suddenly passed away on July 12, 2012, after being thrown from his horse during a practice session at the Santa Barbara Polo Club.  Although I did not know Dr. Sadler, I learned that “he lived a full life filled with love and was respected by all who knew him.”  He had been immensely invested in the success of the UMMA Clinic.  The University Muslim Medical Association (UMMA) Community Clinic, is the first Muslim American founded community-based health organization in the United States.  The Mission is to promote the well-being of the underserved by providing access to high quality healthcare for all regardless of ability to pay.  Inspired by Islam, the clinic serves people of all other cultural, economic and religious backgrounds. The Fremont Clinic and Wellness Center, includes a community garden being developed by the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust.  Fremont High is one of the most at-risk schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The vast majority of its students live in low-income households, with more than 60 percent of the community’s residents living well below the poverty level. UMMA’s new clinic will provide a broad range of primary and preventive health care services.  Access to their services will not be limited to the Fremont High School students and staff members, but to the community at large.

From the moment I arrived at Fremont High School, there was a woman who stood out to me amongst the crowd, not just because she had a strong presence, but also because of the way she was mourning.  I came to find out that she is Mrs. Hoori Sadler, who is the mother of the late Dr. Steven Sadler.  I found myself very drawn to Mrs. Sadler, partially because I was amazed at her ability to be immensely transparent and not hide her feelings of deep pain and mourning during one of her most vulnerable of moments.  As she was being embraced and was embracing others, she exuded strength and courage.  As CEO of the Sadler Medical Group, she has been the most successful discretionary fundraiser for the UMMA Clinic. In 2006, following her own experiences as both a cancer researcher and cancer survivor, she founded the Persian-American Cancer Institute (PACI).  In 2010 Mrs. Sadler received the Women in Action Award from the Israel Cancer Research Fund.  Mrs. Sadler articulated a great deal of conviction during the memorial service, as she conveyed her genuine care about the wellbeing and rights of the youth that the clinic will be catering to.  The kids are a part of a population that is very dehumanized by society, and viewed as inferior and not worthy of the same rights as “privileged” youth.  This population has touched my life, and was the initial reason why I chose to attend the event.  I find it unfortunate when I bare witness to people from prominent families that are involved in social causes because they are more invested in the recognition of their efforts rather then the mission.  When there is genuine conviction about a social cause, like I saw in Dr. Charles and Mrs. Hoori Sadler, it gives the mission heart and soul, and the wings to impact the world on a whole other level.  In so many ways, the conviction that Dr. and Mrs. Sadler have about the clinic help to keep their son’s legacy alive. 

Whenever I drive around my hometown of Tampa, Florida, it is very meaningful for me as I pass by all the projects that my grandfather designed as the architect of the various structures.  I imagine that it is also very meaningful for the Sadler’s when they see the clinic.  I began to think about how the architectural structure of the building is like an extension of Dr. Sadler’s physical body, and how the flow of students and community members within the halls of the clinic is symbolic of the blood that had flowed through the veins of Dr. Sadler.  During the memorial, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, whom is another incredibly strong and brilliant woman, pointed out the wonderful architecture of the clinic, and jokingly mentioned how the clinic was obviously not designed by LAUSD.  The architecture of the UMMA clinic is far from a cold and sterile building, and was obviously designed with soul, and the intention to carry out a mission of love, service, social justice and compassion.  The entire building was structured to be environmentally friendly, and is absolutely wonderful.  A lovely man, Murtaza Sanwari, who is the chairman of the board for the UMMA clinic, had given me a tour of the facility.  During the tour, Mrs. Sadler had approached me, and even though we had never met, she embraced me with an immensely open and warm hug.        

One of the things that Dr. Charles Sadler said during the memorial that stood out to me, was in reference to the impact that his son will continue to make in the world.  He talked about how when you drop a stone into a body of water, while you may not get the stone back, the stone remains present through its ripple affect on the surface of the water.  Not only will his son's work continue to impact the lives of others, he impacted me as well on a very profound level.  My grandmother Florence, whom I am very close with has recently become very ill.  I am presently interning at a mental health care agency that serves South Los Angeles, and as I drive on the 110 to get there, I am always reminded of her as I pass by the Florence Avenue exit.  As her health continues to decline, the exit had become a daunting and painful reminder.  As I drove on the 110 to the dedication of the UMMA clinic, I became anxious when I discovered that I had to get off at the Florence Avenue exit.  After my experience that day at Fremont High School, I now have a completely different experience when I see it.  One of my grandmother’s greatest passions in life was through being a school nurse, and so as I approached the clinic at the high school, I realized that I was exactly where I needed to be, and how perfect the timing was since I was just about to visit my hometown to see her for the first time since she became ill.  When I now pass the Florence Avenue exit, I am comforted by the synchronicity that happened that day at the clinic, and am reminded that if I am open to the hidden intelligence that pervades the universe, I can still have a relationship with my grandmother even when the day comes that she is no longer physically present in the world.  I have absolutely been impacted by the ripple effect of Dr. Sadler’s life that his father had so beautifully spoken about.

I wish flourishing and lasting success for the mission of the UMMA Community Clinic, and that Dr. Charles and Mrs. Hoori Sadler continue to feel connected to their son through the clinics success.   

The main clinic is located directly on Florence Avenue, at:
711 West Florence Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90044
For Appointments call: (323) 789-5610

The Fremont High School clinic is located at:
7676 South San Pedro Street
Los Angeles, CA 90003

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Lia Mandelbaum is getting her degree in social work at California State University-Los Angeles, and has an internship at Barbour & Floyd Mental Health Services.

She is a part...

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