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Muslim doctor opens medical center in Philly

By Michael Z. Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Jul 11, 2018 - 9:42:33 PM

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Dr. Safiyya Shabazz (R) Fountain Medical Associates held its open house in Philadelphia in June. Photos: Michael Z. Muhammad

PHILADELPHIA—Dr. Safiyya Shabazz has a vision for Black health care in the city of Philadelphia and is not bashful about sharing it. A physician, wife, mother, businesswoman and visionary, affectionately known as “The Doc from the Top of the Clock” sat down with The Final Call for a revealing interview during the open house for her recently relocated medical practice and clinic in the “City of Brotherly Love.”

Dr. Shabazz reminisced about the visit she received from Minister Louis Farrakhan when he toured her original office space in 2011. He told her, “This is a great start, but this isn’t the vision of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad which is much bigger.” This is when Dr. Shabazz’s vision began to take shape.

Cooking demonstrations to share the importance of healthy eating.

“My ultimate goal is a campus facility, a multi-specialty medical center campus akin to an outpatient hospital. I don’t think this goal conflicts at all with the vision of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad given the current direction of medicine in this country,” she said.

“In 2018 the hospital is not where I want my patients to be. I want my patients out of the hospital. Understanding the finances of medicine, you need full beds to run a successful hospital, and I’m trying to keep the beds empty. So, my vision is that of an outpatient system where you are keeping people healthy with a minimal need for hospitalization.”

Dr. Shabazz is the owner and medical director of Fountain Medical Associates, PC. An alumna of Central High School of Philadelphia having graduated at the age of 16, she received her Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Medical Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.

She told The Final Call she is a recipient of the Melvin Molstad Prize in Chemical Engineering and the Nikitas J. Zervanos prize in Family Medicine. She completed residency training at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. She has been in private practice since 2010.

The daughter of legendary Nation of Islam Minister Jeremiah Shabazz and mother of Andrea Shabazz, the astute physician states she always inclined to do for self, which led her to private practice. “My upbringing with my father and mother I never had the idea of just finding a good job. I always had a vision of somehow building something for myself as a service to the community,” she said.

Regarding her practice, she states it represents the first step to her ultimate goal. The freedom of independence has allowed her to incorporate more holistic views and more open conversations with people about how they want to handle their care. “I think that makes a big difference,” she said.

Dr. Shabazz (left) with supporters at recent open house for the new location of her medical practice.
“As a family physician I am trained to care for the whole family from birth through adulthood,” Dr. Shabazz said. “My role is to help people from getting sick and help them to identify early when they have some threats to their health so that they can improve it and when you have a condition making an appropriate referral. Lastly, however, is the holistic approach about the end of life care which causes consternation among many physicians.”

Fountain’s spring forth water and water is the source of life which is the emphasis of Dr. Shabazz’s practice. “Fountain Medical was initially in a community medical building located across the street from Einstein Hospital. It was ok, but I had something different in mind. To me your physical space is most important,” she pointed out.

Her current facility is state of the art, located in the affluent Mt. Airy section of the city. She and her staff moved into the building in November 2016. Initially, the building looked like something out of a war-torn country. Investing her capital, bank loans, with the added financial support of believers, friends and patients, she purchased the property and completely renovated it. She turned the upstairs into two luxury apartments which she rents out. The medical facility itself has a waiting room, lab area, five exam rooms, classroom space, office space and backyard space with room to grow. The official grand opening was June 30 of this year.

During the open house, the upstairs apartment was used for a cooking demonstration. Dr. Shabazz enlisted the assistance of Valerie Muhammad and Waheeda Nasir who demonstrated for attendees how to make healthy and delicious cauliflower salad, a classic recipe by the women of the Nation of Islam and a healthier alternative to potato salad. She saw this as a value added to her practice, teaching patients “how to cook to live.”

Young man enjoys face painting during open house.
Dr. Shabazz said what makes Fountain Medical unique is that it is one of the few Black medical centers and the only Black and Muslim Family Practice in the city. “This is important to my patients and shared beliefs that we have. Many of my White colleagues don’t even realize they are discriminatory or biased. Being in Philadelphia and a Muslim has been a great honor for me,” she said.

“I have learned to be intuitive in a lot of my interaction with my patients. It allows me to pay more attention to the emotional suffering which impacts physical ills. The biggest compliment is when patients state the office environment is peaceful, they come and feel at peace in the environment and space.”

Mama Akosua Ali Sabree, who was present for the open house told The Final Call she had been with Dr. Shabazz since she was in her residency at the University of Pennsylvania. “I am a supporter of Black women, especially Black women who own their own business and having a presence in the community. I think it is pretty courageous of her to invest her own money and present the community with a class facility and provide outstanding health care service,” said Ms. Sabree.

“Fountain Medical is efficient and very patient-centered. I don’t like a lot of drugs and that kind of thing and not only does Dr. Shabazz work with you, but the staff is understanding.”

Barbara Muhammad traveled from Delaware to attend the open house. She told The Final Call that she knew Dr. Shabazz as a teenager as well as her parents who were staunch followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. “This young woman went on to finish her education and has evolved to become a medical doctor, and I am in attendance to help her celebrate her accomplishments,” she said.

Dr. Shabazz humbly noted that her most significant success lies in her role not as a physician or business woman but as a parent. “I don’t care what you do, you can be super successful in so many different ways, but if your children aren’t doing well you don’t feel like you accomplished anything,” she said.

“My biggest success has been my children and the way they have grown. This is the greatest blessing I could ever receive from Allah (God).”

Fountain Medical is located at 22-24 E. Mt. Airy Ave. For more information call 215-924-2440 or and on Facebook at Fountain Medical Associates, PC or @fountainmed