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!