Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine (CVVIM), the valley’s only free health care clinic, has opened a second office in Palm Springs, expanding its primary care services to better serve west valley residents in need. Their primary clinic, located at Jackson and 48th in Indio, has served the community for 12 years.
According to the most recent HARC survey (2019), more than 40,000 people in the Coachella Valley do not have health insurance or are under-insured, making it challenging to obtain proper care. This number includes the elderly, self-employed, part-time workers and other low-income residents. CVVIM has helped nearly 35,000 people since 2010 and currently averages about 4,000 patient visits per year, which is expected to increase with the expanded Palm Springs coverage.
Medical professionals are encouraged to volunteer. CVVIM could not operate without the gracious support of medical volunteers including physicians, dentists, nurses, medical assistants and even college and high school students in health academy programs who need certification hours. All that is required is a minimum of four hours per month. Ernest “Cliff” Wynne, MD, a board-certified gynecologist, serves as CVVIM’s medical director, seeing patients and overseeing the credentialed volunteer medical care. The clinic is also in the process of finalizing an agreement with Desert Regional Medical Center’s family medicine residency program which would include medical residents and faculty physicians serving as part of their network of volunteer providers. Eisenhower Health’s medical residents currently tend to patients in the Indio clinic. Last year, about 220 CVVIM medical volunteers provided approximately $400,000 in value of free health and dental services to valley residents.
CVVIM has a small paid administrative staff, but administrative volunteers, including greeters and receptionists, also are welcome to apply. “We’re finding there are so many people who want to volunteer, not just physicians,” said Executive Director Doug Morin. “Maybe someone can’t afford to make a donation, but they want to help and can afford a few hours to volunteer to answer phones.”
CVVIM operates solely on donations. CVVIM does not receive government funding or insurance reimbursement. It operates solely on individual and corporate donations, grants and fundraising. “Our goal is to keep our overhead expenses as low as possible because we are supported totally by donations,” said Morin. “We want to assure our donors that we are using their money to the best advantage.” While nearly all personnel time is volunteer, donations cover hard service costs like X-rays, MRIs, and other diagnostics, lab work and medications.
The new clinic is located in the Las Palmas Medical Plaza at 555 East Tachevah Drive (Building 1W, Suite 204). Hours of operation are currently 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday — the same as its Indio clinic. However, hours will be modified based on the needs of the community, says Morin. “We are cognizant of being available when our patients need us. If we discover that people in this community need more evening hours or a Saturday, we will adjust our hours.”
Other plans for the west valley expansion include a street outreach program like the non-profit has organized in Indio, with volunteers going out on the street to provide medical care to the homeless.
To apply to serve as a volunteer or make a donation to support Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine, visit www.CVVIM.org. To inquire about scheduling an appointment, call (760) 342.4414.