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Physicians, Dentist, Nurses: Volunteer… Just 4 Hours a Month!

By Lauren Del Sarto

healthier-doctors-communityCoachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine (CVVIM), the Valley’s only free medical clinic, just opened a $2.8 million state-of-the-art facility in Indio. They are projected to see over 7,000 patient visits this year, and that number could be 14,000 – the need is here, but they are lacking volunteer medical professionals.

CVVIM saw their first patients in a temporary location in November of 2010. In two years, the clinic has grown to over 20 active doctors who volunteer a minimum of 4 hours a month, allowing the clinic to accommodate up to 500 patient visits per month. There is a six-month waiting list for dental appointments.

Who does CVVIM serve? Adult medical care is offered to the 60,000 Valley residents with income less than 200% of the federal poverty guidelines who do not receive government health care. And the patient profiles may surprise you: 75% are from Palm Desert, La Quinta, Indio and Cathedral City, while 14% come from Palm Springs. Most surprising is that 28% live west of Cook Street.

CVVIM patients include: a 62-year old grandmother from Rancho Mirage with no medical insurance who was hospitalized locally with pneumonia; a 42-year old married man from Indio with a job that doesn’t provide health care. He suffered a mild stroke brought on by high blood pressure and diabetes that he didn’t know he had. After a week in our local hospital (for which he couldn’t pay), he was referred to CVVIM. Then there is a 60-year old salesman from Cathedral City with a history of blood clots to the lung who requires blood thinners for the rest of his life. Until 2010, he had great health insurance, but lost his job and couldn’t afford COBRA or doctor visits. CVVIM followed him for a year and a half and made sure his blood pressure was under control. VIM hadn’t seen him in a while and was glad to learn that he had gotten his job back – and his health benefits.

A primary goal of CVVIM is to provide quality care that keeps individuals out of local  hospitals where the cost of their medical attention becomes a burden to the system and the rest of us.

Who can help? CVVIM has a need for primary care physicians and specialists willing to practice primary care, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants and administrative front office staff. The most urgent need is for dental personnel—dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants.

What is required? Retired or active doctors must have an unrestricted license to practice their profession in California. There is a 5-minute application to fill out, and CVVIM takes care of the rest. The credentialing process includes review by a local committee and the federal government (for liability insurance) and takes 6-8 weeks. CVVIM’s volunteer requirement is just four hours each month (Monday – Saturday) which allows the clinic to open its doors during that time. The clinic schedules support staff to meet individual doctor’s schedules.

Please help double the medical staff at CVVIM and the care they provide to Desert residents most in need. It is an easy way to give back to your community–and to practice medicine for the love of helping others.

Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine is located at 82-915 Avenue 48 (at Jackson) in Indio. For more information, please contact Bruce Yeager at 760.342.4414 bruce.yeager@cvvim.org or visit www.cvvim.org.

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