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

LVIM End of Year Celebration

In the spirit of the holidays and in the era of COVID-19, our End of Year Celebration is Virtual this year!

There are two virtual links below. Our End of Year video highlights our 2020 achievements.  Our segment of Holiday Cooking with LVIM allows you to join us in your kitchen for a Thanksgiving Reboot using your leftovers.

To view the End of Year Celebration video, click below.

To join us in your kitchen for our segment of Holiday Cooking with LVIM, click below.

Click here to view the Thanksgiving Reboot Recipes.

Spread Joy, Not Germs

by Caroline Benitez

This holiday season spread joy, not germs. Social distancing and face masks should be on your to-do list this winter, but make sure to check it twice- and add hand washing to keep yourself and others healthy.

The CDC estimates that regular hand washing can reduce your everyday risk of respiratory infection by at least 16%. Hand sanitizer is a good backup when you’re on the go, but washing with plenty of soap and water is ideal to remove built-up dirt and grease. Tell germs “they better watch out” by remembering to wash between your fingers and under fingernails.

You might know that you should wash your hands for at least twenty seconds, or about how long it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. But if you want to get into the holiday spirit, below are some fun holiday tunes you can use instead!

Sleigh Ride
“Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling, too/ Come on, it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you!
Outside, the snow is falling, and friends are calling, “yoo-hoo!”/ Come on, it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you!”

Let it Snow
“Oh, the weather outside is frightful/ But the fire is so delightful/And since we’ve no place to go/Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
It doesn’t show signs of stopping/ And I’ve brought some corn for popping. / the lights are turned way down low/ Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

All I Want for Christmas is you
I don’t want a lot for Christmas/ there is just one thing I need/ I don’t care about the presents/ Underneath the Christmas tree. / I just want you for my own/ more than you could ever know/Make my wish come true/ All I want for Christmas is you!”

Welcome Eva Hawkins!

It is with warm excitement that I get to introduce LVIM’s new Volunteer Manager to you!

Meet Eva Hawkins!

Eva comes to LVIM with an array of experience and a passion for LVIM’s mission.

For the last four years, she has been the Watson Clinic Foundation’s Arts in Medicine Coordinator where she worked with volunteers to bring the healing power of art to individuals undergoing cancer treatment. In this role, she worked closely with the medical community and managed the day-to-day operations of the program, including volunteer recruitment and management.

Prior to her role with the Arts in Medicine Program, Eva was the Program Director for Project Think Pink Program at WeCare of Polk County, one of LVIM’s closest collaborative partners.  While there, she oversaw both the day-to-day operation of a grant-funded free mammogram program and the fundraising initiatives that made it possible.

Her background is comprised of a wealth of experience in human resources, non-profits, and organizational development.  Fun fact:  Eva is also a twice published author and an avid quilter.  Many of her quilts are on display at the Watson Clinic Cancer Center as part of the programs rotating art collection.

We are excited to welcome Eva’s creativity, warm spirit, and extensive knowledge and experience to LVIM.   Eva officially began her new role as LVIM’s Volunteer Manager on November 9th.

Welcome to the LVIM Family Eva!

Early Detection Saves Lives

by Caroline Benitez

According to the American Cancer Society, 276,480 women will be diagnosed with a new case of breast cancer in the United States each year, making it the most common kind of cancer among women. At LVIM, we realize that early detection through mammography screening is essential in catching cancer in its early stages. Thanks to partnerships with WeCare and Radiology Imaging Specialists (RIS), our patients get free access to this vital screening service. In 2019, 54% of qualified patients received their mammograms through LVIM. Since LVIM first opened its doors in 2001, over 6,360 mammograms have been performed.

Whether you’ve had a breast cancer screening in the past, or aren’t sure when it’s time to start, just remember your A-B-Cs:

A- Annual mammogram

Once you reach the age of fifty, it’s recommended that you start getting an annual mammogram. Mammograms are low-dose x-rays of the breast tissue that can be used to detect early signs of breast cancer. If you are of low or average risk, your doctor might recommend that you only need to complete a mammogram every two years.

B- Breast awareness

Get in the habit of performing a breast self-exam once a month.  Because it’s normal for healthy breast tissue to feel lumpy, a monthly self-examination can help you keep track of any new changes. While the majority of lumps felt during a self-exam are unlikely to be cancer, you can report any concerns to your healthcare provider for further advice.

C- Clinical breast exam

Starting in your 20’s, women should receive a breast exam from their doctor or nurse as part of their regular health checkups. This is also a good time to assess your personal risk factors for breast cancer, such as a family history of cancer or other genetic components.  Using this information, you and your healthcare team can work together to create a personal timeline of any and all screening procedures you should be receiving.

About LVIM

LVIM provides free, high-quality, out-patient medical, dental, and mental health care to the working uninsured of Polk County in a compassionate manner. Through 19 years of excellent leadership, LVIM has grown into a thriving and crucial organization for the Polk County community serving the health care needs of over 4,300 eligible patients each year and providing over $9 million in services in 2019 alone. At LVIM the treatment is free, the care is priceless!

“About Breast Cancer.” www.cancer.org, 2020, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/about/how-common-is-breast-cancer.html.

LVIM is Fighting the Pink Tax for Pink Month

During the month of October, LVIM is taking part in a feminine products drive.  Did you know around 1 in 4 women struggle to afford period products?

You might be asking how you can help.  You can drop off items such as pads, tampons, pantyliners, and feminine wipes at LVIM.  Our address is 600 West Peachtree St, Lakeland, FL 33815.

We will be adding new drop off locations here as well as on our social media.  Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @wearelvim.

Let us know if you would like to become a drop off location!

Click here for more information about the Pink Tax.

NEW dropoff locations this week, look for the PINK box!

Krazy Kricket – 115 E Main St, Bartow, 33830

Southern Posh – 145 W Broadway St, Fort Meade, FL 33841

2020 Swan Derby Cancelled

In March, with the arrival of COVID-19 in our community, LVIM made the decision to postpone the Swan Derby. We remained optimistic that we would be able to hold the event in the fall. However, with the number of COVID-19 cases and the CDC guidelines still discouraging gatherings in large groups, LVIM has made the difficult decision to cancel the Swan Derby this year.
We will have some fun announcements coming in October. Make sure to watch out for them on our Facebook and Instagram pages! You can also signup to receive updates by texting SWANDERBY to 50155.
Don’t forget to mark your calendar for Friday, April 23, 2021!

Cholesterol & Diabetes

by Caroline Benitez

When it comes to managing type 2 diabetes, monitoring blood sugar is probably the first step that comes to mind, but there’s another number worth keeping an eye on – cholesterol. For many patients with diabetes, LDL cholesterol is more likely to be elevated. Chronically high levels of this “bad” kind of cholesterol can accumulate on blood vessel walls and can lead to problems like heart attacks or stroke over time.  As a result, having diabetes can mean that a person is 2-4 times more likely to experience these cardiovascular diseases.

In addition to regular screening and treatment with medication, lifestyle changes are key to tackling high LDL cholesterol. At Lakeland Volunteers In Medicine (LVIM), our patients are connected to a team of providers dedicated to turning their health around, including access to in-house nutrition counseling and diabetes education. Thanks to a partnership with the YMCA of West Central Florida, free gym memberships are available to patients interested in getting active through exercise. Creative solutions like these bring results- as of July 2020, 58% of diabetic patients were able to bring their LDL cholesterol to less than 100mg/DL on their most recent lab test.

About LVIM

LVIM provides free, high-quality, out-patient medical, dental, and mental health care to the working uninsured of Polk County in a compassionate manner. Through 19 years of excellent leadership, LVIM has grown into a thriving and crucial organization for the Polk County community serving the health care needs of over 4,300 eligible patients each year and providing over $9 million in services in 2019 alone. At LVIM the treatment is free, the care is priceless!

References

“Cholesterol Abnormalities and Diabetes.” Www.heart.org, 2019, www.heart.org/en/health-topics/diabetes/why-diabetes-matters/cholesterol-abnormalities–diabetes.

Diabetes Care Jan 2003, 26 (suppl 1) s83-s86; DOI: 10.2337/diacare.26.2007.S83

STEPS TO GOOD HEALTH…

We are excited about our new program with the YMCA of Central Florida! In an effort to help our patients be active and healthy minded, we will now be offering FREE memberships to the YMCA. Patients will be evaluated for certain health criteria and if they qualify, their physician will give them a referral for this new program. There are many benefits associated with this program for LVIM patients and we hope that our patients are as dedicated to their health as we are.  A special thank you to the YMCA of Central Florida for their collaborative effort in making our community and LVIM patients happy and healthy! *This project is funded through a grant from George W. Jenkins Fund within the GiveWell Community Foundation.*

Returning to LVIM

We have all had time in the last several months to assess what is important in the world and especially what is important in our own world.

Many of us have discovered that time spent with loved ones and time spent in solitude is important.  Time to enjoy the simpler things in life – a walk outside, a butterfly, a garden, an afternoon nap, a telephone conversation with an old friend, a good book (and plenty of time to read it), baking bread or cookies, watching an old movie, reflecting on our faith.

During this time, I have also discovered that a set schedule of running here or there and having to meet a deadline, are not things I really enjoy.  However, one of the things I truly missed during April and May was my time helping others at LVIM.  True, it’s a commitment, but it’s one I feel I need in my life.  Lending a hand to help others, especially at this time of panic and fear and not knowing what tomorrow will bring, is important.  I believe most of us as volunteers, see that we gain as much as we give when we work a shift at LVIM.  I can’t say I wasn’t a bit leery about returning in June to my position as a scheduler, however, LVIM has taken so many precautions to make it as safe as possible for its patients, staff, and volunteers.  We are now sitting behind plexiglass walls and wearing masks all the time.  The patients are not coming in for their prescriptions, but instead being serviced outside the front entrance.  Those who do enter have learned how to use the new electronic check-in method.  Constant cleaning and disinfecting are part of the daily routine now.  I actually feel safer than going to the grocery store.

I missed seeing the staff and the regulars.  I’m still missing the usual crew of volunteers since many have not yet returned.  I understand, but for me, it felt right to come back to give my time and energy to something so worthwhile.  I’ve learned to work with a whole new generation of volunteers.  Many students from high school and local colleges have been recruited to help in these last several months.  I find them dedicated, friendly, and oh so smart.  Yes, we old folks don’t learn as quickly as the younger group, but we try.

I have honestly felt so blessed with all I have, giving back is important.  Seeing how much has been taken away during this time for so many people has just made me more thankful.

And so during these serious times, some may even say hard times, I have felt a new appreciation for the volunteer work we do at LVIM.  We help and we are helped.  We inspire and we are inspired.  And there is still good in the world.

~ Pattie Johnson

Wednesday Morning Scheduler

World Hepatitis Day

by Caroline Benitez

World Hepatitis Day (WHD) takes places every year on July 28th bringing the world together under a single theme to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to influence real change. In 2020 the theme is ‘Find the Missing Millions’.

When your liver is healthy, you won’t notice as it performs a wide variety of essential roles, such as filtering your blood and aiding digestive processes. But for the estimated 2.4 million Americans living with a chronic Hepatitis C infection, they might not even notice that their liver is being subjected to long-term damage.

Hepatitis C is an inflammatory condition caused by infection of the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV.) This virus is blood borne, meaning that infection can be spread through contact with infected blood. A person could have contracted HCV from a wide variety of sources, from blood transfusions, to dialysis, or unsanitary needles. This infection is often be largely asymptomatic in its early stages. Gradual damage to the liver can occur over decades without being noticed. When this happens, serious conditions such as scarring (cirrhosis) or liver cancer can occur.

Because a HCV infection is hard to notice from symptoms alone, the CDC recommends that all adults over the age of 18 be screened for the virus via blood testing at least once in their life. In an effort to catch these infections early, LVIM has established its own screening program to ensure all of our at-risk patients get screened for Hepatitis C.

If blood testing does reveal the presence of Hepatitis C infection, medications offer patients hope. New treatment is available that can cure a person entirely of their Hepatitis C infection. However, without insurance, the cost of this medication proves prohibitive to most. Our Prescription Assistance Program works hard to ensure our patients get access to this lifesaving treatment at no cost. In 2019, six LVIM patients in this program completed treatment and were cured from the virus.

About LVIM

LVIM provides free, high-quality, out-patient medical, dental, and mental health care to the working uninsured of Polk County in a compassionate manner. Through 19 years of excellent leadership, LVIM has grown into a thriving and crucial organization for the Polk County community serving the health care needs of over 4,300 eligible patients each year and providing over $9 million in services in 2019 alone. At LVIM the treatment is free, the care is priceless!