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Still helping people at age 92

Fellow volunteers at Glendale free health clinic say woman is an inspiration.

November 16, 2010|By Jon Haber

Community volunteer Mae England has always had a passion for nursing and helping those in need of medical services. She pursued a nursing career for a short time in the 1960s, and about three years ago, she brought her services to Glendale.

England volunteers at the Glendale Community Free Health Clinic at the Glendale First United Methodist Church on the corner of Wilson and Kenwood Street. The clinic, open from 5:30 to 8 p.m. each Tuesday, serves about 70 patients every week, all of whom have one thing in common — they have no medical insurance.

"It's really a convenience for people that have no other way of getting attention," England said. "It's a wonderful system. And we don't advertise at all. Patients just hear about us by word of mouth."

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England started volunteering with the free health clinic in 2007 after her daughter, Sylvia Lofftus, told her mother that the clinic could use more help. Lofftus, a parish nurse, was one of three medics who helped start the clinic in 2005, alongside Dr. Arbi Ghazirian and Alan Strout.

The idea initially came to Ghazirian after he began treating multiple uninsured patients at his office. After a short amount of time, he could no longer fit all of the patients in his office. Ghazirian, Lofftus and Strout decided it would be best to serve the uninsured patients at the church. Now, the free clinic operates on the church's third floor, and a handful of doctors volunteer their time for patients every week.

"People without insurance don't have the money to go to a private doctor," England said. "Our doctors examine patients for whatever ailments they have and prescribe medications they can pick up there — at no charge."

England said doctors also send some patients for X-rays or laboratory work at no cost.

Although England doesn't treat patients herself, she plays an important role for the office. She confirms appointments for all new patients and handles their paperwork when they arrive at the clinic. Her fellow volunteers say they notice the hard work she puts in every week, and her dedication rubs off on them.

"She gets there early every Tuesday with her daughter, and she keeps us going," said Cathy Bartoo, England's longtime friend and fellow clinic volunteer. "When you've got somebody like her that's 92 years old and still showing up every week, it's motivating for all of us."

England said she plans to keep on volunteering as long as she can because, even after all these years, she still enjoys helping those who need it.

"It doesn't take up a large chunk of my time, and it's fun," she said. "It keeps my mind sharp."

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