Coachella Valley – Volunteers in Medicine
By Janet Newcomb
Not long ago, our healthcare community was concerned about low-income, uninsured residents in our community and agreed to create a safety net for them. It took three years, but they established the only no-cost free clinic in the Valley for workers who can’t get medical care elsewhere. Thanks to a dedicated group of healthcare, community, and government leaders, the Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine (CVVIM) clinic began providing medical and dental services to eligible patients in November, 2010. The clinic occupies a state-of-the-art facility custom built by the County of Riverside that houses six patient exam rooms, two fully-equipped dental operatories, other clinical rooms, and a community room used for group meetings. CVVIM rents the building from the county for $1.00 a year.
Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) is the only national nonprofit dedicated to building a network of sustainable free primary health care clinics for the uninsured in local communities. Its mission is “to promote, guide and help sustain a national network of free clinics emphasizing the use of retired medical and community volunteers within a culture of caring to improve access to health care for America’s underserved and uninsured.” Currently, there are 96 clinics in the VIM Alliance, four of which are in California – San Diego (El Cajon), Coachella Valley, San Bernardino, and San Francisco.
“For many, CVVIM is the first reliable medical home they have ever known, giving them ongoing access to services when they need them,” said Dr. Ron Hare, CVVIM Founder and Chairman. The Coachella Valley clinic utilizes more than 125 volunteers, including physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, nurses, and administrative support. The value of this donated time exceeds $1 million, yet more volunteering professionals are needed.
Funding comes from philanthropic partners, local businesses, and individuals, with hospital partners including Desert Regional Medical Center, Eisenhower Medical Center, JFK Memorial Hospital, and Kaiser Permanente. Scores of volunteer doctors, dentists, nurses, medical assistants and support staff donated 12,941 hours of their time in 2014 to deliver 4,088 patient visits. The cost of operating the Clinic and serving patients in 2015 was $612,000, and the board of directors has decided it’s time to have their first community fundraiser starring a spectacular wine auction.
On Friday, February 5, at the historic Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage, an evening of exceptional food and wine will pair with silent and live auction items ranging from rare and popular wines from around the world to travel packages, restaurant meals, wine accessories and sporting event tickets. All wine donations will be maintained in optimum condition at The Wine Vault of the Desert until the evening of the event. Tickets are $200, available at the event website www.wineloversauction.org.
For more information about Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine and/or the charity wine auction, please contact Doug Morin, Executive Director, at 760.342.4414 or Info@CVVIM.org.