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Uncool 30-something Berkeley-ite. It's a food gut, not a beer gut.
Thai chiles, bitches
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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The Laden Swallow Tripel is limited-edition, but not because of limited capacity at the brewery. At the annual World Cup of Beer homebrew competition in Berkeley, the Best of Show winner gets to brew the winning recipe at Linden Street. Last year's winner was local homebrewer Arlyn Johns with that excellent Tripel. This year's winner, which will be out about this time next year, was an American pilsner by Mike Riddle. Three cheers for Adam at Linden Street for being such a great supporter of the local homebrew community (he also lets the Bay Area Mashers, my homebrew club, meet at the brewery).
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