In 1989, Sally Savitz, acupuncturist and homeopath, assembled a dedicated group of health care providers and women with cancer with the mission to provide complementary integrative medicine, free of charge to underserved, low-income women with cancer. They specifically wanted to treat women because of the particular social, economic, and political inequalities women face in our society and healthcare system.
Sally drew her inspiration for this project from her patient Charlotte Maxwell, who had expressed the hope that one day, low-income women with cancer would be able to receive the complementary treatments that did much to ease her suffering throughout her cancer journey.
After two years of fundraising, securing a license as a California free clinic, attaining 501(c)(3) non-profit status and hiring the first staff member, CMC officially opened on November 23, 1991.
Initially, Sally donated her office space and she, Gabriella Heinsheimer, Kam McCallum-Gesher, Beverly Burns and a handful of volunteer practitioners provided services to 10-15 women every Saturday morning. Over the next 5 years, the number of women treated grew to over 200, and CMC moved into its first small clinic space on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland.
During the late 90’s, Co-founder and Medical Director Beverly Burns was instrumental in expanding the clinic’s services, volunteer base, client education programs and visibility in the medical community. By 2006, Beverly’s tireless work with our underserved women with cancer earned her the Jefferson Award. Two years later, with over 400 clients with 200 volunteer practitioners and continued growing demand for CMC services, she moved the clinic to a larger space on 16th Street in the downtown Oakland area.
Today, CMC provides integrated medical services primarily in Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties, through a volunteer base of healthcare practitioners. CMC is a California licensed free clinic and 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
“Your kindness and generosity have made my cancer journey much easier. Many times my contact with your clinic has been all I’ve had to look forward to and I can’t tell you how much that has touched me.”
“Having some one at Charlotte Maxwell who speaks my language is so comforting and helps me get the most out of all the wonderful treatments and services they offer to me at no cost.”
“At times of sickness, women need a place to get help, to never feel alone and helpless. Charlotte Maxwell has given me hope and the encouragement to survive. Everyone needs that.”
The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic is committed to supporting and empowering low-income women with cancer by providing free access to compassionate, integrative care.
At our clinic, all low-income women with cancer in the Bay Area have access to a safe space and nurturing environment. We are an inclusive, volunteer-supported, integrative, public, free health clinic with a focus on education.
Inclusive: Open to all low-income women with cancer, including women of color, lesbians, transgendered individuals, monolingual women, and differently-abled women.
Volunteer-supported: Comprised of a large and compassionate volunteer base of integrative care practitioners and other dedicated community members.
Integrative care model: A model of care for the whole person, inclusive of mind, body, and spirit. We provide many holistic healing services, including acupuncture, massage therapy, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and guided imagery. We also partner and collaborate with our clients’ health service providers and other community service organizations to ensure the fullest care possible.
Educational focus: We strive to provide education for our volunteers, clients, and staff, and outreach to the local health care community on the unique needs of women with cancer, the importance of social services, the effects of race and class in healthcare, and how providing holistic care can help improve health outcomes and decrease health care disparities.
We do not know the cause of cancer but believe there are many factors involved, such as poverty, racism, and environmental poisons.
We will do everything we can to prevent a woman from blaming herself for her cancer.
We believe our function is to support women in their own treatment choices.
We are committed to being open, non-judgmental, and caring. We are respectful of differences, especially in regard to class, race, culture, body size, sexual preference, and spiritual beliefs.
We provide services for low income and poor women. Our services are designed to work along side those of an oncologist and primary care physician.