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Oakland free health care clinic doubles in size, aims to serve 10,000 uninsured

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OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — Once every three months, Christopher Generoso makes a trip from Hayward to Oakland.

He’s made the same trip religiously for the past five years. He’s getting treatment for his diabetes.

“For now, they’re a big help for me, because I don’t have insurance,” Generoso said.

Generoso found the Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California through his friends who also had no other place to go.

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A clinic, which he says, changed his life.

“It is because I never knew that I am on the border of diabetes until they took me in,” he said. “And then afterwards, they give me medication, they give me every treatment, consultation and that’s a big help for everybody that doesn’t have insurance like me.”

The clinic was founded 16 years ago when the Cathedral of Christ the Light was built across from Oakland’s Lake Merritt.

The Order of Malta is an international lay religious organization of the Catholic church, dedicated to free medical care.

The need from uninsured or underinsured people across the Bay Area has grown dramatically since 2008.

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And the clinic outgrew its space.

On Wednesday, the clinic cut a ribbon, marking a new chapter.

The clinic had been shut down for six months while crews worked to double the size, with twice as many exam rooms.

“We had a very generous benefactor who came by and saw what we wanted to do and gave us a very generous check that enabled us to do it, very generous,” said Bishop Michael Barber of the Catholic Diocese of Oakland.

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Barber says a private donor who wanted to remain anonymous gave them a seven-figure check to help make this expansion possible.

“When all you hear is bad news sometimes, there’s a lot of good news there,” he said. “There’s a lot of people who see suffering, who care and want to relieve that suffering.”

Ten thousand patients could be treated here.

Each patient visit costs about $150, a price tag patients never see.

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“That’s not what the patient pays, we pay that. We raise the money. Our donors, very generous donors are offering their treasure for us to be able to provide these patient visits,” said Sara Cumbelich, board director of the Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California.

That’s why Generoso is hopeful that even more people sharing his circumstances can soon get the care they need, free of charge.

“Seeing this one expanded, it’s a great deal that’s going to be happening, because it really will help a lot of people,” he said.

The clinic is now looking ahead to fundraising $1.2 million annually to keep the clinic running with free medical visits.

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