The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD) board of directors has unanimously voted to approve a $150,000 grant to Volunteers in Medicine – San Diego, Inc. (VIM), a non-profit that brings together medical professionals and patients who don’t have health insurance. The money will be used to pay for diagnostic lab fees and medical supplies, as well as X-ray and ultrasound tests, for uninsured East County residents who are treated for free at the VIM El Cajon medical clinic at 1457 East Madison Ave. GHD is a taxpayer-supported public agency that supports various health-related community programs and services in San Diego’s East County.
VIM’s clinic, located in a parking lot behind Chapel of the Valley United Methodist Church in El Cajon, is staffed by more than 100 professional volunteers, including retired doctors, nurses and support staff, who donate thousands of hours in providing primary care services to more than 2,000 patients annually. The majority of patients are from employed working families who earn too much to quality for a government health program, yet earn too little to afford health insurance, according to VIM officials.
“With the present economic conditions and increase in unemployed residents in East County, we have experienced a significant increase in demand for our services,” said Maureen Hartin, VIM chief executive officer. “We have become the medical home for many people who would have no where else to go except to the hospital emergency room.”
“We are proud to help support Volunteers in Medicine, which provides a safety net to our uninsured population in the East County,” said Debbie McElravy, 2011 GHD board president.
Founded in 1994, VIM’s mission is to improve access to health care for America’s underserved, particularly the uninsured, by relying on volunteer medical professionals, including retired doctors and nurses. VIM is a nationwide nonprofit dedicated to developing free community-based health clinics for the uninsured. There are currently 84 VIM clinics operating in 25 states. When the El Cajon clinic opened in the fall of 2006, it was California’s first VIM clinic.
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