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Healing the world: Free clinic is Tucson doctor’s joy

Age: 60
Profession: Integrative family physician/geriatrician and hospice physician at Casa de la Luz Hospice
Family: Wife, Louise Kligman; daughter, Tara, 26
Born: Santa Monica, Calif.
Years in Tucson: 31

Community involvement:
Past — Head of Department of Family and Community Medicine and co-director of the Arizona Center on Aging at the University of Arizona; member of board of directors of Pima Council on Aging and Miracle Square, Inc.; PCOA Commission on New Aging; UMC volunteer chaplain; Kino Hospital Advisory Board and Pima County Health Care Commission; Wellness Council of Tucson; president of Aging Council of Tucson;
Present — Founder and president of Amistad Y Salud and medical director of Clinica Amistad, South Tucson’s free clinic for the uninsured and underserved

What is your favorite volunteer or philanthropic success story?
Working with very talented individuals and volunteers from our interfaith community six years ago to envision and then operationalize our free clinic to deliver integrative healthcare services to the uninsured, whether they are refugees from Somalia, recently arrived in Tucson from Mexico, or have recently lost their job or health insurance.

What inspires you?
The opportunity create services and environments that are healing, that mend, repair and transform people, their families, our community, and ultimately the world; in other words, to tikkun. Such opportunities do not come along frequently in our lives; when they do, they are gifts to us to transform into mitzvahs.
What are the best things about life in Tucson?
I love the natural setting: from absolutely beautiful sunrises and sunsets to the majestic mountains and the plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert, all appreciated each day in our front and back yards. I am mesmerized by the drama of the monsoon season, and the beautiful lightning shows in the sky.  I enjoy and feel nourished by wonderful people — both native to Tucson and from around the world — who settle in Tucson, and share common values and interests.  It is a blessing to live in our ethnically and spiritually diverse community. Especially in recent years, Tucson has become a mecca for superb cuisine not only from the Southwest, but from around the world. As an anthropologist, I learn so much each day from the patients I see, their families, and the people I interact with in daily life.

The worst?
The extreme heat in the dry summer months. The excess traffic during the “high” season when our population seems to double.
How has working as a volunteer changed your life? 
Volunteering helps to deepen my awareness of how compassion and selflessness impacts upon my spiritual growth, health and well-being. Volunteering has helped me redirect my professional medical career towards the healing work of hospice and care of the indigent.

What are your next challenges?
To volunteer at the hospice in Katmandu, Nepal, where Buddhist monks and nuns come to die; to co-author a book on the art and science of caring for ourselves and others as a spiritual practice; and to participate in the development of an intentional, continuum of care community where highly spiritual people come to live and die, designed around group reflective practices as an alternative to traditional assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

Do you know a Jewish Tucsonan who is helping to heal the world? Email local or call 319-1112.