Vision: Be a premier model of effective, integrated, volunteer-based charitable healthcare.
In 1999 a small group of dedicated community members set to find the most effective and cost-efficient way to care for low-income, uninsured, working residents of Deschutes County who had no access to the medical care they needed. Our mission has always been simple: make our community a better place through education and the enlisting of volunteers to bring healthcare services to those in need.
Patients were first seen in a space donated by Deschutes County, but the long-term vision was to be a free clinic that worked and felt like any other medical office.
Without healthcare benefits, the uninsured were excluded from seeing a medical provider and forced to use the hospital emergency room for any and all issues. Emergency rooms are required by law to treat everyone, making them the catch-all alternative. Both reactive by nature and expensive, these costs are ultimately passed on to the paying medical consumers and taxpayers, straining resources and leaving patients without the ongoing care that they need to improve their long-term health and become more knowledgeable regarding their illness, medications, and/or lifestyles.
Founders, Jim Lussier (former CEO, Cascade Health System), Jim Petersen (former hospital board chair and attorney), and Dr. Stan Shepardson (former hospital board member and Ophthalmologist) worked with the VIM Institute to promote the development of a community clinic to tackle the growing problem of the uninsured in Deschutes County, and in November 2001, Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades (VIM) received its 501(c)3 non-profit status.
Patients were first seen in a space donated by Deschutes County, but the long-term vision was to be a free clinic that worked and felt like any other medical office. In 2003, Bend residents Les and Judy Alford donated $750,000 of the $1.1 million needed to construct a free-standing building, and St. Charles Medical Center agreed to lease the land for $1 per year. With these two acts, the dream for VIM was well on its way, and in 2004 our current building was dedicated.
VIM’s success relies significantly on the generosity of our local community. For-profit providers and facilities donate specialty services as needed on a referral basis; non-medical volunteers are trained to fill positions from patient screening and scheduling, to database entry and a myriad of other jobs; volunteer medical professionals see patients, often giving them additional time to speak through an interpreter; and a small, highly skilled staff oversee it all, while raising the necessary funds to cover annual overheard expenses.
Overall, patients now have the opportunity to be proactive with their medical care, keeping them out of the ER, except for true emergencies. Chronic conditions like diabetes, pulmonary disease, hypertension, depression, and anxiety are managed, and the vast majority of those receiving services are able to continue to work and care for their families.
Overall, patients now have the opportunity to be proactive with their medical care, keeping them out of the ER, except for true emergencies. Chronic conditions like diabetes, pulmonary disease, hypertension, depression, and anxiety are managed, and the vast majority of those receiving services are able to continue to work and care for their families. An additional benefit is the reduction in reliance on other community services, and preventing the nearly number one reason for bankruptcy filings: overwhelming medical bills.
Currently, VIM patients receive a coordinated system of healthcare that can include primary and specialty care, prescription medications, mental health care, and basic dental care, as needed. Patients must qualify for services every 12 months and have a family income of less than 250% of the federal poverty line (below $53,325 for a family of three). All care is still provided without charge, but we encourage patients to contribute donations as they are able.
Over the last fiscal year, VIM had 1,050 low-income adults quality for care, saw 7,216 medical provider visits, eligibility screenings, and pharmacy consultations in the clinic, and had 630 visits to VIM’s off-site community medical partners. Our volunteers donated an outstanding 14,245 hours to the clinic, valued at $804,038 in services. Through the combined efforts of our volunteers and donors, VIM was able to leverage every $1 raised into $6.86 in services and community benefits. The annual community benefit is estimated at $5.9 million, and yet we serve a fraction of the 9,602 potential patient population. As VIM grows, we are able to increase the positive impact in our area.
2019 Bend Chamber SAGE Business Awards // Nonprofit of the Year Nominee
VIM won the 2015 SAGE Business Awards, People’s Choice Award