Oakland, Berkeley, And East Bay News, Events, Restaurants, Music, & Arts
We investigated nine facilities within 10 min. of our home in the Laurel. All had to be full service facilities with Memory Care unit. We chose Mercy for my 85-yr old MIL. She had the typical reluctance to go to "an old folks' home" but it has worked out beautifully. Within a month she was telling everyone how happy she was to be at Mercy.
The units all have views (either Bay or Hills), the food is good (3 meals daily), the 7-acre campus is safe and well-landscaped, good activities, and best of all, Mercy rates VERY HIGH in state rankings for low turnover, high staff morale, and resident satisfaction. Note that they are associated with the Alma Via homes in Northern CA; Salem Lutheran/Oakland is being sold to provide Mercy with funds for an expansion of facilities.
Altho Mercy has many Catholic residents (Mass is said every day) they do not "push" religion on anyone; we'd consider it non-denominational. There is a private senior center space on-site where classes, concerts, and meetings are held for staff and residents.
I've had good economic times and bad ones in the decade-plus since I graduated with a worthless college degree, and the health care system in this country is a disaster. Plus, I move a lot. Therefore, I've had the chance to experience a pretty wide range of low-cost clinics in 4 cities (and 1 foreign country.)
This is the best.
Everyone is friendly and kind, the service was great, and if these are "community health volunteers" and "not doctors and nurses," give me community health volunteers every time from now on! Even when I get my insurance back! Seriously, this place was great.
I expected bedlam, and didn't get it. Screaming crazy people, out-of-control children, and excessive waits (personal record: 9 hours, since I'd "only" had a cough for 3 weeks) are par for the course at clinics in LA. Not here. It was downright empty on a Friday evening and busy but still calm on a Monday evening.
I expected attitude, and didn't get it. Last time I tried to go to something called a "free clinic," new to the city (LA) and unsure where else to go, I got dressed down for not being poor enough. At the Berkeley Free Clinic, they seem to understand that sometimes you're just not in a position to see a real doctor even if you're not supporting 5 kids on $8.75 an hour. They asked once if my household income would be below $20,000 this year, because a "yes" answer gets them reimbursed by the Feds I think, and then didn't pry when my answer was "no." (Though I volunteered that I'm currently unemployed, because I'm defensive now. Also, it'll be a while before I stop comparing everything to the analogous, suckier version in LA. Sorry.)
It's Berkeley, so I expected politicking and/or pressure of some sort, but no. There was a discreet envelope for donations provided with the medical background sheets, and a box up front, but no pressure to donate. I gave 'em $15, the low end of what a TB test costs, but if I was truly out of savings and living on nothing it was the type of environment where it would have totally been okay to give nothing.
This clinic has also managed to seem respectful of the local transient/street kid population without allowing them to run the place. Basically, they don't want you hanging out front or in the clinic if you don't have an appointment or are not accompanying someone who does, which seems fair. BUT they have signs everywhere that says you can use the bathroom and make tea as long as you don't hang out. Nice, no?
* The medical info sheets were pretty broad on the subject of gender, with options for transpeople of all sorts, which struck me as very Berkeley in the good way.
* There is NO TV in the waiting room, thank GOD. Sitting in Santa Monica Planned Parenthood with a TV blaring VH1's "I Love Money" might be how I spend my time in hell.
* Did I mention free tea?
* Did I mention really nice people?
* Convenient location
I will donate here regularly when my household money flow returns to normal.
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