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South Coast Medical Clinic Which Offers Up Services To Community For Free Celebrates 50th Birthday

(Photo courtesy Free Clinic of Simi Valley)
The Free Clinic of Simi Valley has served more than 400,000 people during its 50 year history.

Stan Frgacic was having a tough time.  The Simi Valley man was hit by the loss of his job, and divorce, which left him squeezed financially.  There was a clinic in his neighborhood that he’d driven by many times, but never visited.  It was the Free Clinic of Simi Valley.   Frgacic got help from the clinic. 

In fact, he’s one of more than 400,000 people helped by the clinic over the decades. It’s celebrating its 50th anniversary Monday.

What’s really remarkable is that in the age of HMO’s and PPO’s, if you go to the Free Clinic of Simi Valley, you’ll never get a bill, and never be asked to pay.  The clinic offers free medical, dental, psychological, and legal services.

Fred Bauermeister is the clinic’s Executive Director.  He says they have a unique financial model which has allowed them to stay in business for a half century.  It has a half dozen employees, but relies on more than 160 medical, dental, and legal professionals to stay in business.

The clinic doesn’t get federal funding, which means it doesn’t have to charge sliding scale fees, or limit eligibility for care.

Bauermeister says they recently moved into a 14,000 square foot building on Royal Avenue donated by Ventura County.  They’re using half of the space, with other non-profits using the other half.  They’ve built a new state of the art facility. 

The Free Clinic survives through donations and grants, ranging from hospitals to community groups like Rotary Clubs.  Plus, some of those who get services will make donations to the clinic, to help the next person who needs assistance.

Frgacic says the clinic has helped him with things ranging from an ongoing prescription for cholesterol to a tooth injured in a hockey game.

As you look at the clinic’s half-century legacy, its legacy is that of its Executive Director.  The remarkable thing about Bauermeister is that he was one of the non-profit’s original founders.  He’s been a part of it during its entire history. 

Bauermesiter says while he never pictured being with the clinic for 50 years, he wouldn't change it for anything.  He says every day is a new experience, and a new adventure with different people walking through its doors.