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

COVID-19 Response


Alice V. Koehler, MBA | President & CEO

July 23, 2020

Throughout history, when people are faced with challenges, we see them either retreat or lean in, crumble or build.  Challenging times, if we let them, will get the best of us.  Conversely, however, challenging times can also make the best of us.

In his book, Drops Like Stars, Rob Bell writes, “We plot. We plan. We assume things are going to go a certain way. And when they don’t, we find ourselves in a new place—a place we haven’t been before, a place we never would have imagined on our own. It is the difficult and the unexpected, and maybe even the tragic, that opens us up and frees us to see things in new ways. Many of the most significant moments in our lives come not because it all went right but because it all fell apart. Suffering does that. It hurts, but it also creates.”

Over the course of the last four months, LVIM, like everyone out there, has traveled uncharted waters.  We’ve had to make many decisions, pave many new paths and in some cases had to come back and do all the same work the very next day.  We read and learn and connect.  We do our best to decipher the inundation of information being hurled at us every day.

At LVIM, we’ve held strong in balancing our budget, meeting the needs of patients, volunteers and staff.  We’ve implemented curbside services, telemedicine, and partnered with other free clinics around the state to acquire enough PPE to get us through the end of the year. We’ve been challenged to rethink what volunteering can look like and created volunteer from home opportunities. We’ve begun to craft fundraising and volunteer recruitment and retention plans that can fit in a future where social distancing is the norm, but human connection is more important than ever.  We are leaning in and letting this time refine this organization.

There is still much we do not know about our collective future, but one thing is for sure:  LVIM will be here providing compassionate healthcare to our community, no matter what challenges lie ahead.

Thank you for joining us on the journey.

Be well and #MaskUp,



Alice V. Koehler, MBA | President & CEO

June 1, 2020

Five years ago, tragedy struck inside a church in Charleston, South Carolina. As nine black citizens gathered peacefully to express their faith, their lives were taken in a gross act of violence.  At the time, I was acting content editor of The Lakelander magazine. We were in the middle of creating a whimsical summer issue reminiscent of carefree and happy summer days filled with vintage swimsuits and golf and picnics and croquet.  As we wrapped the magazine and I was preparing to write the editors’ note, I had trouble finding a way to address the heaviness of the world while putting this lighthearted magazine out into it.

What came out when I put pen to paper is still fitting today as we navigate unimaginable loss – 100,000 of our fellow Americans have succumbed to COVID-19.  Another 40 million have filed for unemployment, their lives forever altered by this virus. And, last week, George Floyd’s life was taken at the hands of those who are meant to protect us all, one man in a long line of others who suffered just like him. We are reeling.  I am reeling.

Here is what I wrote then and share with you now:

Life isn’t perfect, but we tend to be wooed by the nostalgia of days gone by – of a time when people dressed more modestly and treated each other with more kindness, times defined by their activism and by humanity’s desire to live a full life.  We clearly want to get back to “the way we were,” but we don’t really mean that.

As we think through history, even the most picturesque times were laced with humanity’s worst.  The 1930s were full of great music and fashion, but riddled with poverty and the Great

Depression.  The 1940s were ripe with modesty and fabulous dancing, but also with human tragedy of unmatchable proportions.  The 1950s and 1960s ushered in prosperous times, but carried with them injustice for and mistreatment of both our fellow Americans and our brothers and sisters abroad.

In a letter I received over the weekend from the President of the National Peace Corps Association, Glenn Blumhorst wrote this, 

“The toll of coronavirus has hit black and brown communities particularly hard. So have job losses. And in a time of global pandemic, we’re faced once more with a brutal truth articulated years ago by Sargent Shriver, “We must also treat the disease of racism itself…” Shriver also understood the feeling of powerlessness when faced with enormous challenges. “What can we do about it? you ask. There is much you can do. For the need is not merely for laws or Presidential action, but for the self-organization of society on a large scale to solve the problems … We must now show that we have the personal commitment to use our wealth and strength in the construction of a good society at home and throughout the world.”

LVIM is one such organization. No, we are not an activist group, nor will we ever be. We do not engage politically. But we are a connector, and we do actively commit resources specifically to provide healthcare – one tenant of a prosperous, solid society. 

At LVIM, we come to work every day with this vision in mind:

“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.”

In keeping with the foundation of the VIM model, LVIM promotes an inclusive environment that does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, disability or sexual orientation.  We are a grassroots organization caring for the people of our community who are often forgotten.  We give compassionate, high-quality care to our patients no matter the color of their skin or the belief of their hearts.  The same goes for our volunteer and staff community.  All are created equal at LVIM.

The Lakelander editor’s letter from 2015, continues:

We tend to think that modesty, smiles, swing dancing and “Make love, not war” meant perfection and better times.  But what if all of that was a manifestation of something much bigger?

What if all of that was actually a reflection of our collective belief in a better tomorrow?

And what if that collective belief is what it takes to get back to better times?

As we ponder and reflect on the overwhelming human tragedy unfolding [before us], we are deeply affected by the loss of human life…

If we continue to be a divided people, this loss of life will have been for naught.

We can honor these lives in the way we live ours.  Instead of wishing for a better tomorrow, let’s go build one.  Let’s believe, together, in a better tomorrow.  Let’s work together to build it.


I close this letter to you, the LVIM community, with these thoughts from The Talmud:

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.

Do justly, now.

Love mercy, now.

Walk humbly, now.

It is not your obligation to finish the work.

But neither are you free to abandon it. 

Through your commitment to LVIM, you are including the excluded, healing where there is brokenness, and believing that tomorrow can be better. You are doing the work to build a better tomorrow; you have not abandoned it.

Thank you.

Peace and wellness to you,



Alice V. Koehler, MBA | President & CEO

April 22, 2020

I don’t know about you, but today’s pace of life is like nothing I’ve experienced. We’re busy, but not like before. We are working differently, parenting differently, partnering differently. The roads are quiet; our minds are noisy. We enjoy fewer social commitments, but miss human connection. We have time to read, create, learn, hike, but we tend to stare into space – or Netflix – instead. We miss our friends and family and colleagues. We host virtual happy hours and game nights. We feel like we’ve gained and lost all at once. Why are we so tired? Why are video calls so exhausting? I read this yesterday from INSEAD organizational behavior professor Gianpiero Petriglieri, and it resonated with me. “It’s the plausible deniability of everyone’s absence. Our minds are tricked into the idea of being together when our bodies feel we’re not. Dissonance is exhausting. It’s easier being in each other’s presence or each other’s absence. Our bodies process so much context, so much information, in encounters, that meeting on video is being a weird kind of blind-folded. We sense too little and can’t imagine enough. That single deprivation requires a lot of effort.”

Humans need to name things. We crave knowing – a medical diagnosis, an emotion, when something will end. And when things are ambiguous, life gets really hard and we get tired. We forget to give each other permission to feel. We grow impatient and snap to anger. This week, I encourage you to give yourself – and your loved ones – permission to feel. Explore your inner emotions. Ask your kids, partners, colleagues, family members, and friends how they are feeling…and share how you are feeling, too. You will likely find that many around you are feeling similar things and that none of us has a monopoly on any one experience right now. We really are all in this together, learning how to be a community while so far apart.




Alice V. Koehler, MBA | President & CEO

April 10, 2020

As if we needed a reminder to be aware of stress this month, April is actually National Stress Awareness Month. While we are all safer at home, we are challenged by the juxtaposition of boredom and an overwhelming sense of urgency to do something. It is normal to feel stress during these times, and it is certain that we are all internalizing that stress a little differently these days. For some of us, who are working parents, we are struggling to keep up with work and children who are home. Home has become both daycare and school. Being all things to our partners, children and work commitments is hard, y’all! For those of us who live alone and are isolated, the stress of inactivity and social distance can bring about depression. For those of us who are first responders, the fear of sickness and the weight of carrying others’ fears becomes quite heavy.

Every stress induced trauma plays out differently. And as part of our LVIM community, we want you to know we are here for you on this journey. Here, we share some of our stress relieving strategies with you. We’d love to hear how you’re taking care of you during this time, too! Message us on Facebook @WeAreLVIM, or send an e-mail to me at

Be well, LVIM family!

You are loved and you are missed!

LVIM providers can now see patients virtually! Thanks to a partnership secured by Volunteers in Medicine America, this service is available to LVM at no cost through September. Last week, providers and staff held practice appointments with each other to learn how the system works and are ready to begin using it with patients this week! We are so excited about this opportunity in this critical time as well as seeing how it might help us grow in the future!


Alice V. Koehler, MBA | President & CEO

April 3, 2020

How many times in the last few weeks have you made plans and then had to change them? Whether it’s the constant, and sometimes elusive, hunt for toilet paper or waiting for the next mandate from officials to decide if your family gathering will be an intimate one in your home, a picnic on the lawn six feet apart, or a virtual dinner on Google Hangouts or Zoom or FaceTime, we’ve all made plans until plans change. That seems to be the mantra that is keeping everyone sane in these strange times.

I wrote this update for you all two days ago.

Then, on Wednesday afternoon, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-91, Essential Services & Activities During COVID-19 Emergency, an order we’ve been hoping for because it means our state and our communities will be safer. LVIM and all of our community’s healthcare workers, including our beloved volunteers, will be safer. In the next few days we will receive direction on how this order will be implemented locally; however, what we know for sure is that LVIM will remain available to serve the medically essential needs of our clients in the months ahead.

Will there be challenges? Of course! LVIM stands ready to face these challenges in order to continue being a light to this community, of service to our clients, and in support of our healthcare community.

In times of great challenge, the infamous Mr. Rogers is known for saying, “Look for the helpers!” In my lifetime I’ve lived through a number of uncertain times: hurricanes, third world poverty, declaration of war while living abroad, the aftermath of September 11th, social isolation, and a handful of personal tragedies. During these times, I always looked for the helpers to give me strength and hope. As I grew up, though, I realized Mr. Rogers was talking to the children; we adults are supposed to BE the helpers! I am elated and inspired by ALL the help and encouragement LVIM has received in the last few weeks, some details of which are in the following pages. I hope you all will join in being a helper alongside LVIM as we travel the road ahead together. Be safe and be well!

A Note from Our CEO

March 23, 2020

To our Faithful Volunteer Family,

Who would have guessed three weeks ago that we’d be where we are today?

Life has been altered perhaps permanently in many ways and as we navigate the uncertain waters ahead, some things have not changed:

How much we appreciate YOU…all of you!

Our commitment to our patients’ health and wellness.


To those of you who have weathered this storm alongside us inside the clinic thus far, THANK YOU!

To those of you who have weathered this storm from the security and safety of your own home, THANK YOU as well.

By working in the clinic alongside us you are helping us keep LVIM’s patients healthy, with uninterrupted access to their medications. We are keeping them out of the emergency room. By doing this, we keep beds open for those in our community who will soon be very sick.

By choosing to stay home, you are doing the same.  You are helping our community flatten the curve and increasing the chances of our community coming out on the other side of this less harmed.  By staying home, in many ways, you are ensuring you can come back to us when this is all over.


As things are changing daily, I hope to keep you all informed and engaged in our mission.

Please accept my apologies that I haven’t been able to do so clearly until now. 

First, we have adjusted our operation in many ways to ensure everyone’s safety.

We are currently working with a skeleton crew of volunteers and staff.  A staff person is stationed outside the front door evaluating each person who comes to LVIM before they enter the building.  Everyone who wishes to enter the building is having their temperature taken and checked for any symptoms.  No guests or visitors are allowed in the building.  Medications are being delivered to patients by a staff member outside of the building.  We have moved many of our patient visits to a telehealth format and are triaging sick patients by phone before making any appointments.  We are honoring intake appointments that were already on the books, but we are no longer taking in any more new patients until it is safe to do so.  Our ophthalmology clinic is closed until further notice and dental is seeing only emergency cases.

Last week, I asked much of our admin staff to begin working remotely until further notice.

Kathy, Sonia, Ginny, Rebeca, Mary and Caroline have been working hard from their home offices to build the foundations on which we will stand on the other side of this. As they practice social distancing and self-isolation, they are working on the plans LVIM will use to rebound from the implications this will have on our organization. They are raising the money we need to keep caring for our community.  Though they are not in the office, their work is important, seen, and valued.

Our team’s health and wellness is my priority.

Without each of you healthy and well, staff and volunteers, we are of no use to the 3,000 patients who rely on us.

That being said, while we have significantly decreased the number of people coming in and out of the building, we are still open to serve our clients.  If you would like to pick up a shift, please let Kathy know.  We do have work for you.  Each day we have many phone calls to make and messages to which to reply, many prescriptions to order, to fill, and to prepare.

However, YOUR HEALTH IS MOST IMPORTANT!  Please DO NOT feel badly about staying home, either.  We know you value this mission whether you are in the building or at home.

Last week, as I was reflecting on all of this, not just for us at LVIM, but our lives as a whole, I wrote this:

Many of you know that I served our country and our world as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo, West Africa from 2002-2004. For 27 months I lived in a place so foreign to me, and I foreign to it.

We struggled together. We worked together. We fought together.  We learned together.

We grew together.

That experience, and every single person I met along the way, made me so much of who I am today.

The sudden stop of all of it, around the globe, feels so hopeless.

The sudden isolation at home feels helpless.

And, yet…these words…

Mayi mava looooo – I go. I come.

In my village we said, “Allez Revenir.”

Go…to come back.

Over these days, I have cried a lot.  I have cried for the friends I can’t hug and the memories I can’t make in this time. I have cried for our volunteers who are most vulnerable to this vicious virus and cannot be with us during this time.  I have cried for my children and what they are missing.

But, I also know that going also means we can come back.

So, let’s all go…

so we can come back together.


In many ways, our new normal is a foreign land – at work and at home.

We have had to go away from all that we knew, make many changes, but doing so means we can come

back together, better and stronger.

It is often said that we cannot direct the wind, we can only adjust our sails.

Thank you for shifting your sails with us to meet the wind. Thank you for being patient with us during these times. Thank you for continuing to show up for our patients, for each other, and for our mission – whether in the clinic or from home.

I am grateful for you,


As we work together to keep our community safe and healthy, LVIM is planning and prepared to face the new normal that lies ahead.  We are currently seeing patients, we will just not be accepting NEW patients until further notice.

Stay informed:


Florida Department of Health –

As we are adjusting to our new normal, our patients will see the information below posted on our doors.  If it applies to you, PLEASE CALL US before entering the building!

Mask Up!

Recent studies have revealed that COVID-19 spreads through person-to-person transmission in the form of respiratory droplets produced when infected individuals cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of nearby persons, or they may be inhaled. Reports and studies on infection control state that these droplets usually travel around 6 feet (or two arms’ lengths). To effectively combat this infectious disease, let’s #MaskUpLKLD!

LVIM is a registered Consumer Choice business who has Comprehensive Precautions.

To learn more about #MaskUpLKLD and to download a graphic click here.

Together We Heal

Today, tens of millions in America live without health insurance – or much hope. That’s where we come in. Over 25 years ago Dr. Jack McConnell dared to imagine the possible in the face of the impossible. He imagined, what if we didn’t see patients but simply saw people? What if treating those people with kindness, understanding and dignity was as important as giving them healthcare? And what if in giving them good medicine, we also gave them hope? Hope in their health. Hope in one other. Hope in our communities.

Then Dr. McConnell and some fellow healthcare friends willed and worked what they imagined into reality, building the original Volunteers in Medicine Clinic in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina that continues to flourish to this day. Then Dr. McConnell founded Volunteers In Medicine America so other communities across the nation could have their own Volunteers in Medicine clinic. Today there are more 90 clinics in 30 states serving over 100,000 people.

Along the way something happened we could never have imagined. Those of us providing the healing began to heal something inside of ourselves as well.

Our videos capture that caring and healing interaction between caregivers and care receivers. Please go to our website to see how you can help – by making a donation, volunteering, starting a clinic, or joining our network.

Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos

A Holistic Approach to Managing Stress
by Kelly Andrews

By now you may or may not feel like you are starting to be” in flow” with our new reality. Everyone is continuing to find their own way of dealing with continuous challenges of COVID-19 and for most of us some days are better than others. What is important is that you are taking time for yourself and being gentle in how you react to your emotions. Keeping a positive mind set and heart set is key in a healthy immune system.
During this time of chaos we are encouraging you to consider a holistic approach to healthy and mindful living which emphasizes Self-Care for the body, mind, spirit and emotions.

Here are 8 tips for keeping your Head Up and Heart Out as we move onward!

Sleep – There is nothing better for our immune systems than a good night’s sleep of 7-8 hours. Going to bed the same time every night and waking up the same time every day will keep your sleeping pattern consistent. Create an evening routine to assist yourself in winding down at the end of the day.

Dance, Dance, Dance – Put on your favorite tunes and invite your body to move without any effort from your mind. Play music that inspires you to feel positive emotions and activate the good neurochemicals. Pick a genre that speaks to your soul!

Find a New Way to Do Routine Things – Our brains have a way of being on auto-pilot especially with routine tasks. You can literally create new neuropathways in your brain simply by doing something old in a new way. For example, find a new route to work every day, eat somewhere different for lunch, try taking a mental break on a different schedule, make plans on a night that you might ordinarily stay home.
Digital Detox – We can be victims to our technology by feeling we have to stay connected every moment of every day. Take the opportunity to unplug for a few minutes each and every day, and see how you respond. Also, pay attention to what you are feeding your mind through television, social media, radio, etc.

Look for Love in Everyone and Everything –  Life is full of miracles when we take the time to pay attention. Expect to find 3 expressions of LOVE throughout your day. As you begin this practice you will notice just how quickly you find small examples of grace.

Find the Sunshine – Going outside and inviting the sun to fill your soul with warm light and love is a refreshing way to lift your spirit. It only takes a few minutes to feel the difference. Take a few deep breaths in and allow that feeling to radiate throughout your entire being. Exhale gratitude back out and into the universe. AAHHHH.

Humor – Laughter is medicine for the soul. Make an effort to bring a sense of humor into your life daily. Research has proven that laughter (whether real or fake) benefits our health in a positive way. Find ways to bring more FUN to your day. Look for funny videos, on line jokes, movies, or books. Spend time with those friends that constantly make you smile.

Forgiveness – One of the most un-healthy habits one can have is the inability to let go. When we have been disappointed, hurt or betrayed in life, we tend to hold onto feelings such as anger, sadness and/or frustration. The problem is that these feelings only hurt ourselves and can create issues for our physical being when not expressed in a healthy way. Find ways to forgive yourself and others freeing your spirit up for more positive emotions!
We all have an opportunity to view the COVID-19 experience as one of negativity & suffering or as a time of transformation, creativity and renewal. How and what are you doing within yourself to create your reality?

About Kelly Andrews
With more than 25 years in the health and wellness field, Kelly has worked in a variety of settings including corporate, higher education, non-profit, medical, and fitness centers. Through her own life experience, Kelly’s personal journey allows her to practice deep empathy when working with others to find their way forward. Kelly, a native of Tennessee, is passionate about working with people to help them explore, expand and evolve into the best and healthiest versions of themselves.

Visit to learn more about Kelly Andrews.

Eating Well & the LVIM Mobile Food Pantry

by Caroline Benitez

Eating well starts not with what’s on your plate, but what’s in your grocery cart. Though there isn’t a one-size fits-all way to eat, almost everyone agrees that a diet rich in fresh veggies, produce, and whole grains is the foundation to good health. Sometimes knowing the right foods to eat isn’t enough. The community where you live can have a big impact on what goes into your diet- especially if you live in a food desert.

The USDA defines a food desert as a community where a large proportion of households are low-income and have low access to fresh foods. There might be convenience stores or restaurants nearby to buy the basics and shelf-stable processed items, but an actual grocery store or supermarket with fresh foods is harder to get to. In these places, the closest grocery store is over one mile away in an urban area, or 10 miles in a rural area.

For those of us living in an urban area, living one mile from a grocery store might not sound too terrible. But what if you don’t have a car and have to rely on public transportation or rides from friends? What if you have a disability or mobility issues? Then, reliably gathering fresh ingredients to make a healthy meal for you and your family is no easy task.

A 2015 analysis by the USDA found that a relatively high proportion (9.8%) of households in the central Lakeland area did not have vehicles and lived over one half-mile from a supermarket. All in all, 1.2 million urban Floridians and 780,000 rural Floridians live in a food desert.

At LVIM, we believe that everyone deserves a chance to live a healthy life, no matter their income. Through the generosity of the George W. Jenkins Foundation, and in partnership with United Way of Central Florida and Feeding Tampa Bay, LVIM launched our mobile food pantry initiative. Since kicking off this program in March, LVIM has helped to provide a box of free healthy foods like fresh produce and meat to 1,222 households which includes 4,299 people!

Mobile Food Pantry

Second and Last Tuesday of Every Month

Location: 600 W Peachtree Street

Time: 12:00pm-2:00pm

Registration starts at 11:00am.

For more information about food deserts and the Florida statistics visit the sites below:

Food desert map:

Florida stats:


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!

To learn more about LVIM visit

Healthy Delicious Recipes

Did you know LVIM has volunteer Nutrition Educator who works with our patients?  Throughout the month of June, we will be sharing some of the healthy and delicious recipes given to us by Katherine Bates on our social media.

Katherine Bates is a Florida native and a Nutrition Educator. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics & Nutrition where she studied anatomy & physiology, food science, advanced nutrition and dietetics management. She practices a holistic approach to supporting the whole person. Nutrition education is key, support is essential. Katherine also has a Health Coach Certificate in Nutrition & Wellness. She works primarily as a supportive advisor and wellness consultant helping clients feel their best through food & lifestyle changes by customizing a personalized wellness program to meet their needs. With dedication to improving the lifelong eating habits of children and teenagers, she believes that learning by doing the things they enjoy is best. As a proud mother of two boys, she enjoys engaging children & parents in food science and helping them discover nutrition through fun, memorable activities.

To learn more about Katherine and for a full list of recipes click here Recipes for LVIM from Katherine Bates.

Today Is Not Like Any Other Day

Today is not like any other day, just like the past two months have not been like any other months. You may be home with family or you may be home alone, but we all have something in common that connects us! As a mental health therapist and grief specialist, I have seen my share of grief ! Grief is described as the loss of something that you love. We have lost the ability to be physically close to our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and co-volunteers! Sounds like grief to me, but the difference is, the loss is continuous and supports are limited. There are no hugs, no pats on the back, no handshakes no gatherings NO PHYSICAL CONTACT! Which amplifies the grief! So, how do we process this peculiar grief? Glad you asked!

1. Set a schedule – Setting a schedule gets you up every day with a goal in mind.
2. Limit your view of the news, maybe 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night, so that you stay informed not consumed!
3. Reach out to a loved one every day, not just text, hear a voice or FaceTime!
4. Go outside daily, sunshine is a natural healer.
5. Do some type of exercise (dance, walk, stretch ) just move the body.
6. Spend a few minutes of quiet time (meditate, pray, sit, knit) not too much sleep!
7. Try to learn something new!
8. Try to eat healthy😄just don’t eat all the virus snacks in one day!
9. Make a list of things that you want to do, when we can get out again!

These are just a few ideas that may help! There is a silverlining at the end of this season!!!

Rica Walker, LMHC
Silverlining counseling

Protect Your Skin

by Caroline Benitez

As spring makes way for summer, many of us are dreaming about days in the sun. Although plans for beach days and picnics in the park might need to be put on hold for a bit longer, you can still find creative ways to soak up the sun in your own backyard. However, as you choose to enjoy the warm weather, there’s one essential ingredient you can’t forget: sunscreen.

Sunscreen, when used correctly, is one of the best lines of defense for blocking the sun’s skin cancer-causing UV (ultraviolet) radiation. The American Cancer Society reports that an estimated 5.4 million cases of squamous and basal skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the United States, making them the most common form of all cancers. As for melanoma, the most severe form of skin cancer, a projected 100,350 new cases will be diagnosed in 2020.

While these statistics can be alarming, it doesn’t mean that you need to avoid the sun altogether! Below are some sun safety tips to keep in mind whenever you plan on spending time outdoors. 

Choose the right sunscreen.

SPF sunscreen stands for Sun Protection Factor. The number refers to how many minutes of protection from UVB radiation the sunscreen provides- for example, 30 minutes of sun exposure while wearing SPF 30 sunscreen would equal the amount of exposure you would receive in one minute with no protection. The higher the number, the higher the protection. A broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher is recommended.

Cover up.

While sunscreen should be your first line of defense, it’s a good idea to also protect your skin with things such as loose clothing, sunglasses, or a wide-brimmed hat.

Limit sun exposure.

Sunscreen and protective clothing are not a free pass to spend all day in the sun. Limit exposure to direct sunlight between the hours of 10:00am and 4:00pm, when UV rays are at their strongest.

Perform a self-screening exam.

Check your skin regularly for any changes. If you notice any new, changing, or expanding moles or growths, you should consult with a dermatologist to assess your risk.

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!


To learn more about LVIM visit

Just Breathe

by Caroline Benitez

To be stressed is to be human, especially during these uncertain times. At some point, everyone experiences situations that cloud their head with worry and overwhelms their thoughts. While there are plenty of ways to describe this sort of feeling, it would be a mistake to think that stress is something that’s just in your head.

Stress is more than just a feeling- it’s your body’s way of preparing you for perceived threats. There are two kinds of stress, acute and chronic. Think of acute stress as your body’s alarm system for short term stressors. In such situations, the hormones cortisol and adrenaline are released, which raise your blood pressure and heart rate, and quickens your breathing. This response can be useful when you have the act quick- like, for example, when you must slam the breaks to avoid a fender bender. Stress lasting for periods of weeks or months is better described as chronic stress. Over time, this type of stress can take a toll on your body and can contribute to conditions such as hypertension and heart disease down the road.

The good news is that chronic stress doesn’t have remain a chronic issue. If you are experiencing this kind of stress, it can be helpful to first identify your stressors. Once you find tangible sources of your stress, you can create a plan to address them head on. Recruiting strong social support- be it through family, friends, counselors or coworkers- is essential. While we are currently under a Safer at Home order in Florida, there ways to remain connected with your social network using FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or a phone call.  Remember that no matter how insurmountable your problems feel, there are always people who want to help you get through them!

As for acute stress, there is no shortage of activities that you can use to cope in a healthy way. Go for a walk, put on your favorite music, or take time to work on a hobby. The important thing is to find something that you enjoy doing that allows you time to step back and refocus. Why not try mediation? Below is a deep breathing excessive you can try the next time you feel stressed.

INHALE deeply through your nose as if you were smelling a rose.

IMAGINE that your lungs are balloons slowly and steadily inflating in your chest.

EXHALE slowly through your mouth as if you were trying to blow out a candle.

REPEAT and remember to take things one breath at a time!

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!

To learn more about LVIM visit


With the arrival of COVID-19 on our doorstep, LVIM will continue to be a critical resource to the community.

Working together to keep our community safe and healthy, LVIM is planning and prepared to face the new normal that lies ahead.  In these uncertain times, LVIM is keeping the doors open to our current patients, all 3,000+ of them.  Now more than ever keeping our emergency rooms clear of non-emergencies will be essential.  We are encouraging our vulnerable volunteers to stay home, stay well, and stay healthy, which means working with a skeleton crew.  As such, we will be closing our doors to new patients for a short time so we can focus on caring for the patients we already have.  We will not cease providing medically necessary care, pharmacy services, and will even make tele-medicine available when feasible.

Additionally, we have made the hard decision to postpone the Swan Derby. It is our every hope to revive the Derby sometime this fall. I will keep you updated as further information is available.

Please consider a donation to LVIM so that we can continue to care for our patients, provide needed medications and give them some peace of mind, during these unique circumstances.