Was it serendipity or fate that led a young, idealistic man to create a 30-year legacy of meeting the medical needs of tens of thousands of indigent and immigrant families in Sacramento?
Paul Hom briefly worked with poor communities as a member of VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) before becoming a doctor. Time spent in the program opened his eyes to how much poor Americans wanted and needed medical care, he once said.
The people he helped wanted good medical care more than the right to vote.
His experiences led him to UC Davis where he learned about medicine and where he found an underserved community
that needed medical attention – elderly Asian Americans.
A 1973 UC Davis School of Medicine graduate, Hom joined with San Francisco physician Garrett Lee in establishing a free clinic aimed at serving elderly Asian Americans and new Asian immigrants who faced many language and socioeconomic barriers.
Staffed entirely by volunteers, including UC Davis medical school faculty, undergraduate students, medical students and community members, the clinic educates patients and delivers basic medical care, such as physical examinations and laboratory tests. It is the oldest existing Asian clinic in the United States.
The clinic, which has served more than 30,000 people during its three-decade reign, was renamed the Paul F. Hom Asian Clinic after Hom died in 1994.
In addition to the Paul Hom Asian Clinic, UC Davis medical students operate three other community clinics in the Sacramento area.
Clinica Tepati was launched in 1974 to provide medical care for the underserved Latino population in Sacramento. The clinic sees as many as 1,000 patients a year from all over the Central Valley.
Imani Clinic opened in 1994 to address the staggering and persistent morbidity and mortality from hypertension, heart disease, cancer and inadequate prenatal care among African-Americans.
Shifa Clinic opened as a UC Davis student-run clinic in June 2001 to meet the health-care needs of women and the Muslim community.
Operated in collaboration with a Sacramento-area mosque, volunteers provide translation services in Urdu, Arabic and Farsi.