By Lois Thomson

Arjun K. Saluja

About a year ago, Arjun K. Saluja stepped down as a member of the board of Community Health of South Florida (CHI), where he had served for nearly 15 years, the last three as chair. He said as soon as that happened, John Dubois, board chair of Camillus Health Concern (CHC) contacted him. “I’ve known John for some time, and when I retired he said, ‘It’s time for you to come onto Camillus.’ He’s been pushing me,” Saluja said with a chuckle. “He saw the success we were having at CHI and said, ‘We could use your talents.’

“I told him to give me some time. So I took about a year off and realized that I most definitely loved the call of helping the uninsured and underinsured population, it was very satisfying to me.”

Camillus Health Concern is a community health center whose purpose is to help indigent people and those experiencing homelessness (men, women, and children) in Miami-Dade County with healthcare services, including primary care, behavioral health, oral health, and social services.

Dubois eventually got his wish as Saluja joined the board. Saluja said that while with CHI, he gained quite a bit of knowledge about the industry. “I learned what’s important, how to expand our services – we expanded locations, we increased efficiencies. My tenure at CHI was a huge success for all those reasons, and I hope to repeat that at Camillus.”

He believes there is even more of a need at Camillus because not only are the clients poor, but they are also homeless. Saluja said he hopes to expand and add even more services for CHC, and perhaps “provide mobile services for those who cannot come to us.”

Dr. Steven E. Marcus

Dr. Steven E. Marcus also had a connection with a board member before he joined the CHC board. He said a good friend and colleague decided she did not want to continue on the board and also wanted to give others a chance to serve. “She said, ‘I think I’d like to leave the board, what would you think about it?'” Dr. Marcus replied, “‘I think highly of Francis (Afram-Gyening, CEO of Camillus Health Concern); he has a lot of experience and he would be a good CEO to work with.'”

Having retired from the Health Foundation of South Florida at the end of 2020, Dr. Marcus said he is very happy to have joined with Camillus. One area that’s of particular interest to him is “more philanthropic activity. I have spent some time in that field, and I’ve always been interested in seeing how we could make philanthropy more desirable for homeless people, so it’s a good challenge.”

Dr. Marcus said philanthropy is not just about asking people for money, but also about engaging people in a cause and, in this case, understanding the purpose of CHC. “It’s a wonderful purpose and needs to create more opportunities for people to see how investing philanthropic dollars could do more for homeless people.”

He added that he isn’t sure yet what other opportunities might be available to inform people and raise the level of importance of Camillus Health Concern. “The only thing I can do is share what I’ve learned and see if any of that learning has a place where I think I can be of help.”

Kionne L. McGhee

Kionne L. McGhee, Esq., is the third new person to join the Camillus board. Having served as a member of the Miami-Dade County Commission for District 9 since 2020, he has a busy schedule, but said the work Camillus does “is very dear to my heart.” He mentioned the importance of mental health and people having access to resources, and said, “When we’re talking about that, it’s easy for me to say yes (to joining the board) and move things out of the way to make time.”

Commissioner McGhee said he first became familiar with Camillus when he met with CHC representatives in Tallahassee to discuss legislation and advocacy, and wanted to move forward following that. “I inquired over a year ago about being able to serve that community and the constituents there. A position did come open and I met with the board members and that’s how I was able to get on the board.”

He said he looks at his position as being a partnership. “What I can contribute to Camillus Health is advocacy, policy ideas, and, more than anything, being an asset for them and helping them maintain their status within the community as it relates to mental health and homelessness.”

For more information, call (305) 577-4840 or visit www.camillushealth.org.