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Millcreek Journal

Free medical clinic helps thousands each year

Apr 09, 2024 01:11PM ● By Peri Kinder

Hundreds of volunteers at the Maliheh Free Clinic help patients who don’t have access to health insurance. The clinic sees around 5,000 patients each year. (Photo courtesy of Maliheh Free Clinic)

Dr. Mansoor Emam was an emergency room physician in 2005 when he noticed many people coming to the ER for non-emergent issues. He knew how expensive an emergency room visit could be, so Emam started seeing patients in his free time, for no charge, using borrowed space at nearby clinics.

He mentioned this to his friend and businessman Khosrow Semnani who helped Emam establish a more permanent location by St. Mark’s Hospital in Millcreek. As the clinic’s popularity grew, Semnani found a bigger building at the clinic’s current location at 941 E. 3300 South. 

In 2018, the new Maliheh Free Clinic (named after Semnani’s grandmother) started seeing patients. It grew from a few people every week to more than 5,000 patients each year which equals around 20,000 patient visits. 

“We see patients who are uninsured,” said Maliheh Free Clinic Executive Director Brenda Spearman. “They have to be completely uninsured and not qualify for any type of insurance or government program, like Medicaid or CHIP. And patients have to be low income. What we consider low income is up to 250% of the federal poverty level.”

Staffed by medical volunteers who are licensed health care professionals, the Maliheh Free Clinic provides free, same-day access for qualified patients with medical issues. Its mission is to rescue community members who have the most need by providing hope, respect, fairness, professionalism and compassion. 

As a teenager, Semnani came to the U.S. with his family from Iran during the 1970s. He graduated from college, became a successful businessman and knew he wanted to give back to the community that had helped him succeed. 

“It’s hard to be successful in life when you don’t feel good and you have chronic conditions that aren’t being managed and well-maintained,” Spearman said. “So being able to support his friend, Mansoor Emam, who’s also from Iran, just seemed like the right thing to do.”

About 90% of funding for the clinic comes from grants and donations, with the State of Utah contributing a small amount. Around 500 volunteers contribute their time each year, some people for a few hours and others on a more regular basis. 

“About 100 of those volunteers are medical providers that donate their time to see our patients,” she said. “We have a really small staff. We have two full-time medical providers and two part-time medical providers. Everybody else that sees our patients is a volunteer.”

Often, patients are refugees and the clinic saw an influx of Ukrainians after the war started. But now, Spearman said they see families who have dropped their insurance because they can’t afford the payments. 

“They’re trying to figure out how to make ends meet with the cost of living going up and their pay staying the same,” she said. “We’re just glad we’re here.”

Donors who contribute to the clinic include Intermountain Health, American Express Center for Community Development, the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation and the Utah Medical Association Foundation. For information about donating or volunteer opportunities, visit

“We have a lot of college students and even high school kids that volunteer,” she said. “We have our own interpreter pool here. We’re always looking for people who want to strengthen their language skills. We have a lot of students in their undergraduate programs wanting to apply for medical school or nursing school or physician assistant school. This is always a great place to put on their applications for those schools.” λ