Current news and updates regarding the Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine Community.

We Are Now Members with NAFC

About NAFC..
Welcome to the NAFC, a national voice promoting quality health care for all.
Building a Healthy America One Person at a Time. Support Free and Charitable Clinics Where Medical Care for the Underserved Isn’t a Dream, It’s Reality.
The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC) is the only nonprofit 501c(3) organization whose mission is solely focused on the issues and needs of the more than 1,200 Free and Charitable Clinics and the people they serve in the United States. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the NAFC is an effective advocate for the issues and concerns of Free and Charitable Clinics, their volunteer workforce of doctors, dentists, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, technicians and other health care professionals, and the patients served by Free and Charitable Clinics in communities throughout the nation.
WE BELIEVE access to health care should be a right, not a privilege.
WE VALUE human dignity and ACCESS to quality, compassionate health care.
WE VALUE the individuality of our member clinics and their ability to adapt to community needs and resources.
WE VALUE volunteerism.

WE VALUE community ownership, service and collaboration.

COVID-19 Position Statement

On August 19, 2021, the LVIM Board of Trustees officially adopted the

LVIM COVID-19 Position Statement.

In summary, it states:

In response to COVID-19, LVIM remains focused on maintaining operations, stewarding resources, and continuing to live up to our mission to provide high-quality, compassionate, free healthcare to the working uninsured of Polk County, FL.  At LVIM, the Circle of Caring is the foundation of our culture:

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.


LVIM provides access to healthcare, education, prevention and primary healthcare to ensure that our clients get well and stay well so they can stay out of the hospital, continue living fulfilling lives, provide for their families, and contribute to the greater community.

LVIM is also built on the foundation of volunteers and takes very seriously the call to protect those who serve our clients.

LVIM’s COVID-19 Position, Policies and Procedures reflect this culture of caring.

At LVIM, we believe that kindness, love, and respect are universal.

And, it is LVIM’s strong conviction that masks and vaccinations

are the most effective tools to stop the spread of COVID-19.


To read our full Position Statement please click here.

We earned a 2021 Platinum Seal of Transparency!

Our organization earned a 2021 Platinum Seal of Transparency! Now, everyone can
see our strategy, metrics, and achievements. Check out our updated #NonprofitProfile
on Candid: [] and search Lakeland Volunteers In Medicine.



Quit Your Way!

Quitting tobacco isn’t easy. Finding help should be!

LVIM and Tobacco Free Florida have teamed up to bring you
QUIT YOUR WAY smoking cessation classes.

For details and registration information,
please scan or click the QR code in the flyer above.

To jump straight to registration, please click here.

Welcome Alyssa!

Please join us in welcoming Alyssa Piccari to our team!


Alyssa will begin her journey as LVIM’s Executive Assistant on Monday, July 26th. 

In this role, she will be supporting LVIM’s executive team in many ways. 

Alyssa is a recent graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in public health with a minor in marketing.  She currently volunteers with EMERGE Plant City, an organization that works to provide young professionals with business networking connections that inspire, enrich and develop individuals both personally and professionally. As a member of the Kappa Delta sorority, she has extensive volunteer experience with Girl Scouts and Prevent Child Abuse America. Most recently, she worked as a mortgage associate with Equity Resources, Inc.  When asked what her proudest professional moment has been, she relayed an experience that allowed her to help an elderly woman find a way to buy her first home, making her client’s lifelong dream come true.  Alyssa’s heart for people and for helping will fit right in at LVIM.

Where is she now….

In January Laura started PA school at South University in Tampa. (A little birdy told us that she is making straight A’s, of course!) She spends most of her time studying, but when she’s not, she likes to take walks in the park and when she finds some inspiration, she likes to do embroidery.
We are super proud of Laura and continue to wish her the best in all of her endeavors.

A Letter From Our CEO

Above the front door of my sister’s house hangs a sign that reads, “Gratitude is our dialect.”

This turn of phrase by which my sister’s family lives has become a mantra for me as well over the years.

In fact, through the challenges of last year and into this year, it has been my saving grace.  There is no denying that we have been and continue to be surrounded by heartbreak every day.  There are injustices to address, improve, and fix.  Our world is full of people who are hurting.  Sickness is everywhere.  Gratitude can be difficult to come by.

Personally, as I have applied this mantra to my own life, it has became obvious that sitting in the negative space of sadness and hopelessness has a paralyzing effect on me. To move through this space, I recognize the privilege I have to prioritize things that bring me joy.  I set about learning and questioning, reading and getting to know people. And, I make it a practice to reflect on that for which I am grateful every day.  Somedays I am certainly better at this than others; but, no matter what, I always land in gratitude.

It is always at this moment of gratitude that I find myself propelled to continue working to make a difference, to move through the grief and sadness surrounding me and work harder for those who can’t.

This is one of the many reasons I love LVIM so much.  By providing healthcare to those who have gone without, we are removing stressors from the lives of hardworking people.  We help people get well and stay well so they can live their best lives for those they love and be part of the community around them.  We make room for gratitude.

If we can use our gratitude to launch us forward, to give a hand up to someone who needs it, we can give the gift of gratitude – by way of good health – to many others.

As we reflect on the last year and plan for the second half of 2021, I am pleased to say that gratitude has been our dialect at LVIM.

In this month’s e-blast, I am excited to share four of the many things happening at LVIM for which I am grateful:  Vaccinations, Volunteers, Vacations, and Vision.

Thank you for joining us on the LVIM journey,


Alice V. Koehler, MBA

President & CEO



In January, thanks to Lakeland Regional Health, LVIM’s patient facing volunteers and staff were able to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. This effort resulted in 90 fully vaccinated volunteers and staff which in turn allowed LVIM to begin the path to normal.  We have expanded our open-to-the-public operating hours.  Many of our volunteers have returned.  Many clients’ whose annual health screenings were delayed due to government mandates have now received the screenings they need.  Additionally, we hosted our own vaccination clinic at LVIM and were able to get nearly 70 of our own patients fully vaccinated by the end of June.  We were even able to host a Publix Super Markets pharmacist at the June 8th Mobile Food Pantry and offer vaccinations to the greater community.




In the pre-COVID era, LVIM served our patients and fulfilled our mission with the dedication of roughly 300 volunteers.  Last April, due to COVID-19, we were working our magic with only 57 volunteers.  These 57 volunteers picked up extra shifts and extra work; some even volunteered from home.  We have incredible volunteers who love this mission that provides primary healthcare to our community’s working uninsured.  Today, we are thriving and are well on our way to operating with a full team.  During this season, many students stepped up and answered the call to volunteer with us.  A fun fact:  42% of our student volunteers are commuting from University of South Florida in Tampa just to serve at LVIM.  Today, we have 168 active volunteers serving in both clinical and administrative support roles.  They are all deserving of our unending gratitude. Thank you, Volunteers!








LVIM has an incredible staff, all of whom have worked tirelessly over the last year to ensure that we never skipped a beat and our patients continued to have access to high-quality care.

As an appreciation for staff loyalty, beginning in year five, team members are offered the opportunity to take a 40-hour sabbatical to explore something about which they are passionate.  LVIM provides the time off, and the team member covers the expenses.  At the end of their sabbatical, team members share their experiences and learnings with the rest of the team.

So far this year, two team members have been able to take advantage of this benefit.

LVIM Dentist, Kendrah Harper, spent her sabbatical at a yoga retreat in Greece.







Chief Operations Officer, Kim Taylor, explored the depths of the ocean on a scuba diving excursion in Roatan, Honduras.   During this time, she completed her 200th dive!







Burnout is real, especially in human service professions, and especially on the heels of last year.  It is so important to take time to unplug and recharge.  It is our greatest joy to appreciate our team by giving them time to explore that which fills their hearts and souls.



One great outcome from the COVID-19 season at LVIM is that we had time to vision.  While we were a little bit slower, we had time to pull back and think about our systems, policies, and pain points.  I am happy to share a few developments that are taking root right now.

Next month, we will be launching a patient messaging platform.  Our patients will now have the opportunity to receive appointment reminders from LVIM via automated, yet completely customized, text messages, e-mails, and voicemails. Our volunteers will continue to make person-to-person phone calls, but this new platform will allow us to work around common communication roadblocks which will, in turn, reduce our patient no-show rate.

Additionally, LVIM recently received an Empower Polk grant from the Give Well Community Foundation.  We are thrilled to use these funds to build a patient enrollment portal on our website.  This portal will be designed to streamline the entire onboarding process for our patients.

Lastly, we’ve now expanded our in-house lab services to five days a week.  We have experienced an influx of new patients over the last months, but our lab was only able to operate part-time.  We recently welcomed skilled phlebotomist, Jennifer Anderson, to our team which will more than double our capacity in the lab and decrease wait times for new patient appointments.

Consecutive 4-Star Rating

On behalf of Charity Navigator, I wish to congratulate Lakeland Volunteers In Medicine on attaining the coveted 4-star
rating for demonstrating strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency.

The nonprofit sector is advancing and expanding. As our organizations evolve, so do the desires and interests of our
supporters. Astute donors are yearning for greater accountability, transparency, and for concrete results from us. With
more than 1.5 million American charities, Charity Navigator aims to accentuate the work of efficient and transparent
organizations. The intent of our work is to provide donors with essential information to give them greater confidence in
both the charitable decisions that they make and the nonprofit sector.

Based on the most recent information available, we have issued a new rating for your organization. We are proud to
announce Lakeland Volunteers In Medicine has earned our second consecutive 4-star rating. This is our highest
possible rating and indicates that your organization adheres to sector best practices and executes its mission in a
financially efficient way. Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that Lakeland Volunteers In Medicine exceeds industry
standards and outperforms most charities in your area of work. Only 33% of the charities we evaluate have received at
least 2 consecutive 4-star evaluations, indicating that Lakeland Volunteers In Medicine outperforms most other
charities in America. This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Lakeland Volunteers In Medicine apart
from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness.

Forbes, Business Week, and Kiplinger’s Financial Magazine, among others, have profiled and celebrated our unique
method of applying data-driven analysis to the charitable sector. We evaluate ten times more charities than our nearest
competitor and currently attract more visitors to our website than all other charity rating groups combined, thus making
us the leading charity evaluator in America. Our data shows that users of our site donated more than they planned to
before viewing our findings, and in fact, it is estimated that last year Charity Navigator influenced approximately $10
billion in charitable gifts.

Your achievement and the 4-star rating will enhance your organization’s fundraising and public relations efforts. Our
favorable review of Lakeland Volunteers In Medicine’s financial health and commitment to accountability &
transparency is now visible on our website.

We wish you continued success in your charitable endeavors.

Michael Thatcher
President and CEO

Activate Super Tickets

World Health Day

by Will Michell

The World Health Organization (WHO) created World Health Day in 1948 to bring awareness to a concerning area of public health each year.  This year the WHO has chosen health inequalities as its main area of concern.  This is an issue that has worsened since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Health inequalities are differences in health outcomes among different demographics due to the conditions in which people were born, live, and work.  The WHO has called for action to eliminate inequalities in access to health services, healthy food, healthy living situations, and healthy working conditions during 2021 and beyond.

The Volunteers in Medicine model promotes a culture of caring that recognizes the
strength and dignity of its patients.  The model does so by promoting 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.  Using this model Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine has been determined to reduce the inequalities of access to health services and healthy food since 2001.  Here are some accomplishments of LVIM and its patients during 2020.

● Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine had over 30,000 patient visits.
● In March 2020 LVIM began the mobile food pantry serving hundreds of families
healthy food.
● 174 of LVIM patients lost weight.
● Over 18,000 prescriptions were filled providing needed medicine to patients.
● Over 50% of patients with either heart problems or diabetes improved their
● 97% of LVIM patients feel healthier.

Health determinants have medical and social factors that contribute to a person’s well-being.  Having accessible and quality care is only a small fraction of a person’s overall health.  Factors that are affected by things outside of the clinic include air and water quality, housing and transit, tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol and drug use, sexual activity, education, employment, income, family and social support, and community safety.  It is in these areas where inequalities further the gap between healthy and unhealthy individuals.

Recognition of the things damaging our community’s health is the first step to building a healthier tomorrow. With support from outspoken community leaders, more light will be shed on the problems and potential solutions to health inequalities.