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Nurse opens clinic to offer health care

Jefferson Award-winner Sylvia Lofftus
September 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Jefferson Awards recognize extraordinary people who volunteer and make their communities a better place to live. This month's Jefferson Award winner is a nurse who decided to do something about the lack of health care that so many people face.Sylvia Lofftus makes a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of people.

At no other time has our nation's health care system been such a hot topic for debate. There are so many different opinions on what would solve the crisis of the uninsured.

In the meantime, Sylvia Lofftus decided to actually do something about it. So she started the Glendale Community Free Health Clinic.

"It's a way of giving back to the community. It's a way of serving other people and not being selfish, not working within my own means, but doing for others," said Lofftus.

Co-founder Dr. Arbi Ghazarian leads an all-volunteer staff of doctors, nurses and college students every Tuesday night at a Sunday-school classroom turned clinic.

"What every human being deserves, when it comes to medicine, is good health care," said Dr. Arbi Ghazarian. "That's what we want to provide here. Ultimately, in god's eyes, we're all the same."

The clinic will treat about 2,500 patients this year, which includes exams, lab work and prescribing and distributing medications, all at no cost to the patient.

One hundred percent of donations go directly to the clinic.

Sylvia is the first to arrive and the last to leave.

"She's the soul and body of this organization," said Dr. Martin Montoro, volunteer physician. "Without her we couldn't function."

For Sylvia, her training as a nurse is just one way she's able to give back. And she's quick not to take all the credit, and wants to share her Jefferson Award with her fellow volunteers, her friends.

"I really couldn't believe it, because there's so many people out there, so many deserving people that give of their time," said Sylvia. "Like I said, this award isn't for me, this is for everyone who works here. Everyone volunteers."