From Haight-Ashbury to the Hub
It’s not surprising that Vitka Eisen works with such effective, tireless passion. After all, she works for the organization that saved her life. Thirty-five years ago, she found compassionate treatment and care at the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic.
The Free Clinic helped Ms. Eisen in ways that few other clinics could. Because of the atmosphere of acceptance and caring compassion, Ms. Eisen felt comfortable coming back several times, over the course of years, as she struggled to overcome substance abuse. The Free Clinic’s hallmark has always been its willingness to serve anyone, without ever passing judgment. This has proven extremely helpful for vulnerable patients, many of whom feel stigmatized by mainstream society, and therefore reluctant to seek help.
The Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic began when Dr. David E. Smith set out to provide healthcare for the thousands of young people flocking to San Francisco to join the hippie movement, during 1967’s summer of love. Today, the organization primarily serves different vulnerable populations in San Francisco, including the homeless, LGBTQ, youth, single mothers, and people of color.
Just this month (August 2017), the Free Clinic has debuted a new facility, under the umbrella of a larger, newer organization: HealthRIGHT 360. The location is centrally-located near the Impact Hub San Francisco, and the space is impressive:
“With five floors and 50,000 square feet of space, clients are able to receive comprehensive treatment services under one roof: primary medical care, dentistry, mental health services, substance use disorder treatment, housing referral, employment opportunities, adult education, as well as a dining room, and pharmacy.”
HealthRIGHT 360 is an appropriate name for the organization. Stigma-free healthcare is the “right” approach to our society’s problems of substance abuse, and a “360-degree” approach is necessary, because the problems of abuse, mental health, primary medical care, and homelessness are all inextricably linked.
Ms. Eisen sees HealthRIGHT 360 as a model that is being exported to the rest of California and soon, she hopes, across the United States.
In this country, she says, “We put a lot of people in jail for a health issue called substance abuse.”
Today, the opioid epidemic is rampant in this country, and Ms. Eisen believes that treatment programs born fifty years ago offer our best model for reversing the tide. We at glassybaby agree.
That’s why we donate 10% from the sale of every “summer of love” collection glassybaby to support HealthRIGHT360, available from now until Labor Day.