George Maltezos, a mental health counselor, together with his longtime friend Dr. Charles Martinez, started an all volunteer free healthcare clinic for the uninsured needy in Chicago. Two longtime friends who grew up “without” on the streets of Chicago are making a difference.
“I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know Charlie,” says George Maltezos.
His father, Louis Dimitri, arrived in Chicago from Agriani near Sparti, in 1912 at age 15. He calls himself a Greek born in America who did not have the chance to be close to his community. “The circumstances of my American mother’s religion denied me the opportunity to learn the Greek language, much to my regret,” he says.
Maltezos and Dr. Charles Martinez are both in their seventies, both retired and both working harder than ever. That is, in part, because this inseparable pair never forgot what it was like growing up in households that could not afford healthcare.
After building successful careers in healthcare, neither one wanted to hang it in retirement. Instead, they’ve opened a tiny community clinic in a working class neighborhood in Chicago. They treat patients in need, cajole specialists into donating services and badger the drug companies for low-cost prescriptions.
In their mission statement they write “Recognizing the overwhelming need for additional resources to serve the health care needs of the uninsured in the Chicago area, the OIP Community Clinic has been formed to provide a free out-patient primary medical and specialty care program. In addition to primary medical
care, the clinic services include referrals for dental care and assessment and evaluation for mental health, and alcohol and other drug additions and abuse treatments.”
And it doesn’t cost the folks who come to see them a dime. Thanks to George and Charlie, some four hundred people, who otherwise would likely go without any medical attention, are looked after.
For more information on the Old Irving Park Community Clinic, go to www.oipcc.org