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The Northeast Polk Gazette
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Thursday, April 02 2020

Content Provided By: The Organization's Website.

Lakeland - When a few key Watson Clinic physicians realized that a great number of Polk County community members were medically underserved, with no access to healthcare, they began to look for a solution. Led primarily by these physicians and the Watson Clinic Foundation, Lakeland came together to find a unique way to meet the healthcare challenges of the greater Lakeland community.

Inspired by the Volunteers in Medicine model started by Jack McConnell on Hilton Head Island, Dr. Glen Barden brought the idea to Lakeland and the dream became a reality.

On Valentine’s Day 2001, Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine opened its doors in the historic John Cox Grammar School on Lakeland Hills Boulevard. Today, LVIM is an independent nonprofit organization governed by a local Board of Trustees.

At LVIM, patients gain a medical home and have access to doctors’ visits, diagnostic testing, lab tests, ultrasound scans and x-rays at no charge. More extensive diagnostics, such as CT’s and MRI’s, are also available through a network of participating ancillary providers who volunteer their facilities, staff and professional time also at no charge to LVIM or the patients. Additionally, LVIM operates a full-service pharmacy, funded by United Way of Central Florida, filling approximately 30,000 prescriptions a year. The Prescription Assistance Program within LVIM secures almost $3 million of brand name prescriptions for patients at no charge. At LVIM, the treatment is free; the care is priceless.

What is the VIM Model?

The Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) Model promotes a “Culture of Caring” while emphasizing the use of medical and non-medical volunteers. Being inclusive and welcoming to all is the foundation of the VIM Model. The “Culture of Caring” recognizes the strengths of those in need and respects their dignity. It prompts 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. Volunteers in Medicine clinics offer their services free of charge to patients and do not bill third-party payers. VIM Model

LVIM is a proud member of the Volunteers in Medicine Alliance, a network of 89 health care centers in 27 states who follow the VIM Model. As a member of the alliance, LVIM has access to shared best practices, discounted group purchasing programs, educational material, webinars and a variety of other program offerings. Members also have ongoing access to national Volunteers in Medicine Consultants. Membership is provided without charge and members are required to participate in the annual national survey.

The Problem

There are 83, 362 individuals in Polk County who do not have health insurance*; that’s nearly 12% of our total population.

72,359 of these individuals are adults between the ages of 18 and 64. They are parents, artists, servers, and health care workers. They are students, self-employed entrepreneurs, lawn care technicians, and more!

LVIM exists to fill the gap in healthcare coverage for those who are working and uninsured. Our patients do not qualify for government assistance but cannot afford the price tag of high-cost health insurance premiums.

Whether the company they work for doesn’t offer insurance, or their family can’t afford what insurance is offered, families are left with nothing and no backup plan for when things go wrong. Without assistance, families rely on the emergency room as their healthcare provider, the bills rack up, often resulting in personal bankruptcy. Or, worse, these individuals are caught with few resources and often feel they have no choice but to let chronic illnesses go untreated, often resulting in worse outcomes than if treatment had been available.

That’s where Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine steps in.

*Data provided by Polk County Health and Human Services Indigent Health Care Department

The Solution

LVIM provides FREE, primary medical, dental and mental health care to those who are working and uninsured in Polk County, FL.

With the help of more than 4, 800 volunteers and 500 volunteer doctors, dentists, and ARNPs, since 2001 LVIM has done the following:

       *  MORE THAN 25,019 PATIENTS have been served at Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine.

       *  MORE THAN 483,753 PATIENT VISITS have been provided by LVIM!

       *  MORE THAN 431,356 PRESCRIPTIONS filled for our patients at LVIM.

       *  MORE THAN 24,337 RADIOLOGY EXAMS given at LVIM.

       *  MORE THAN 121,616 LAB VISITS conducted by our LVIM team.

       *  MORE THAN 5,864 MAMMOGRAMS provided by LVIM.

Volunteering

Volunteers are very important at Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine – in fact, they are our greatest asset! Since LVIM opened its doors in February, 2001, we have enrolled over 25,019 patients in 483,753 patient visits, filled over 431,356 prescriptions and performed over 24,337 radiology exams. Over 5,000 volunteers and 500 doctors, dentists and ARNP’s have donated their time.

But, as you can see, with this large volume of patients, it takes skilled people of all backgrounds and professions to make everything run properly. You don’t have to have a medical background to volunteer, as there are many other opportunities to serve the uninsured of Polk County and give the gift of good health to LVIM’s patients.

At LVIM, it takes everyone doing what they do best to provide the best care to our patients. No matter your skill set, we have a job for YOU!

LVIM medical providers, clinical and community volunteers provide care through operational and administrative support of the clinic. ALL volunteers are essential to the success of LVIM and operate as a team to accomplish the vision and mission of the clinic.

For more information about this organization, visit their website at https://www.lvim.net/

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