Volunteers are the heart of what we do!
When a few key Watson Clinic physicians realized that a great number of Polk County community members were medically underserved, with no access to healthcare, they began to look for a solution. Led primarily by these physicians and the Watson Clinic Foundation, Lakeland came together to find a unique way to meet the healthcare challenges of the greater Lakeland community.
Inspired by the Volunteers in Medicine model started by Jack McConnell on Hilton Head Island, Dr. Glen Barden brought the idea to Lakeland and the dream became a reality.
On Valentine’s Day 2001, Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine opened its doors in the historic John Cox Grammar School on Lakeland Hills Boulevard. Today, LVIM is an independent nonprofit organization governed by a local Board of Trustees.
At LVIM, patients gain a medical home and have access to doctors’ visits, diagnostic testing, lab tests, ultrasound scans, and x-rays at no charge. More extensive diagnostics, such as CTs and MRIs, are also available through a network of participating ancillary providers who volunteer their facilities, staff, and professional time also at no charge to LVIM or the patients. Additionally, LVIM operates a full-service pharmacy, funded by United Way of Central Florida, filling approximately 30,000 prescriptions a year. The Prescription Assistance Program within LVIM secures almost $3 million of brand-name prescriptions for patients at no charge. At LVIM, the treatment is free; the care is priceless.
How It All Began – An Interview with Dr. Jack McConnell
LVIM | A GiveVisuals Film – March 2021
Volunteers in Medicine, Together We Heal – April 19, 2020
What is the VIM model?
“May we have eyes to see those rendered invisible and excluded, Open arms and hearts to reach out and include them, Healing hands to touch their lives with love, And in the process heal ourselves.”
The Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) Model promotes a “Culture of Caring” while emphasizing the use of medical and non-medical volunteers. Being inclusive and welcoming to all is the foundation of the VIM Model. The “Culture of Caring” recognizes the strengths of those in need and respects their dignity. It prompts the idea that the manner in which people are treated during a visit to a VIM clinic is as important as the medical care they receive. Volunteers in Medicine clinics offer their services free of charge to patients and do not bill third-party payers.
LVIM is a proud member of the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC), which houses the Volunteers in Medicine Program.
The NAFC Volunteers in Medicine Program helps communities start, develop and expand clinics. In 2021, the Volunteers in Medicine clinic development program moved to the NAFC after the national organization Volunteers in Medicine America closed.
Through the NAFC’s Volunteers in Medicine Program, developing sites receive guidance through each phase of the clinic development process, from the initial feasibility study through the opening of the clinic. Expansion sites that are aligned with the VIM Model can receive assistance and educational resources to assist them in expanding their services and reach.
Dedicated to assisting individuals, groups and local communities who want to develop free health care clinics.
Volunteers in Medicine clinics uphold the VIM Model, providing free healthcare services to the uninsured and medically underserved in their communities. They are the result of community-directed initiatives. To thrive and succeed, a VIM clinic needs to be woven into the fabric of the community. Each clinic is locally managed and independently operated.
Leadership, community organization, a detailed needs assessment and an understanding of the delivery of medical services are all essential requirements to starting a clinic based on the Volunteers in Medicine model. Establishing a Volunteers in Medicine free clinic requires alignment with others in your community who share your vision and have the skills and staying power to help develop a clinic. It is important to recruit both medical and non-medical leaders to join your organizing committee.
Each VIM clinic is community-owned and supported, providing many benefits to its members:
- VIM clinics provide primary care services to the medically underserved and their families
- Hospitals benefit from a decrease in non-urgent care for patients visiting their emergency rooms and unnecessary admissions related to untreated chronic conditions
- Medical volunteers are able to practice pure medicine without the business of medicine
- Non-medical and community volunteers are able to support their neighbors in a nurturing, supportive environment
- Patients are treated as friends and neighbors, not as diseases or numbers
For a list of current Volunteers in Medicine clinics, please CLICK HERE.
MEET THE LVIM TEAM
Alice Koehler, MBA
Dr. Fred Schreiber
Londa Brown, MSW
Rx Assistance Ext. 124 • Referrals Ext. 112
Natalya Clemens, CWLC
VOLUNTEER PROGRAM TEAM
Sandy Puretz, RN, BSN
Kari Simpson, APRN, FNP-BC
Kendrah Harper, DMD