The Free Clinic
& Needle Exchange
The San Joaquin Valley Free Medical Clinic and Needle Exchange is a small band of volunteer physicians, pre-med / pre-nursing / pre-pharm students, family practice residents, social work faculty/students and community volunteers.
For over 25 years, the Free Medical Clinic and Needle Exchange have been providing medical care and social services to active injecting drug addicts, prostitutes, homeless individuals, and those living in destitute poverty in the Fresno area.
The San Joaquin Valley Needle Exchange exchanges over 20,000 syringes in a 2-hour period every Saturday just outside our mobile medical clinic. In the mobile unit, medical care is provided for those who use the Exchange. Urgent and chronic medical conditions are treated, especially those related to patients’ drug use/addiction. Antibiotics are prescribed, outpatient surgeries such as incision and drainage of abscesses, suturing lacerations, and caring for open wounds/ulcerations are performed multiple times a day. Vaccinations have been provided to this high-risk population. Naloxone (Narcan), an opiate antagonist for opioid overdose, is readily prescribed and distributed at the clinic. Patients are jumpstarted into MAT (Medicated Assisted Treatment) with enough buprenorphine (Suboxone) to get them off of their opioids and safely into an Opioid Treatment Program within 3 – 7 days.
The Free Medical Clinic and Needle Exchange also serves as a clinical site for the Valley Health Team Family Medicine Residency Program, Adventist Health Family Medicine Residency Programs in Hanford and Tulare, and to the California Health Sciences University – College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Our Mission & Approach
Our aim is to improve the safety, health care and welfare of injection drug users by providing them with free health care, treatment, referrals for treatment and social services. The mission of the organization is to keep people disease free and alive until they can step out of their addiction.
Amidst a devastating opioid epidemic, a needle exchange & free clinic operates in the shadows of Fresno, California.
Directed and Produced by Elivia Shaw
AN INSIDE LOOK AT WHAT WE DO