Interest in Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) began on two paths at about the same time in Bloomington, Indiana. In 2003, Dr. Rajih Haddawi attended a medical conference and heard an inspirational talk by Dr. Jack Connell, VIM’s founder. Dr. Haddawi was intrigued by the idea of a VIM clinic serving Monroe County, IN. Around the same time, Bloomington Hospital (now Indiana University Health Bloomington) also made an initial contact with the VIM national office.
The Hospital organized an exploratory committee and convened a meeting which Dr. Haddawi attended. However, after the initial discussion with the hospital, the process of moving forward was just too slow for Dr. Haddawi, so he began to lead the organizational effort himself.
Dr. Haddawi contacted a VIM consultant about how to approach completing a Feasibility Study/Needs Assessment – a requirement for every VIM clinic – in order to understand the extent of the uninsured problem, the availability of community resources to meet the need, and to identify other available health care services for the uninsured.
During the initial planning year, this research was conducted by a graduate intern from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs to assess the level of need for a VIM clinic in Monroe and Owen counties. Based on the 2000 census, reviews of reports from Kaiser, Robert Wood Johnson, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was estimated that approximately 10,000 adults were uninsured and living at or below the 200 percent Federal Poverty Level in the two-county area, without access to care.
At the completion of this research phase, Dr. Haddawi contacted VIM again. As he puts it, VIM was like an “older brother to us. Everything we needed they were able to provide. We received books, manuals, and a step-by-step planning process for our community. VIM does not use a proscriptive one-size-fits-all approach. VIM provided support, guidance, suggestions, and connections to resources.” Throughout the entire process, VIM consultant, Marjorie Hamrell, was instrumental in assisting Dr. Haddawi’s efforts.
In June 2006, Marjorie traveled to Bloomington for a site visit. She met with the VIM Organizing Committee (the initial Board of Directors) and, in the evening, she addressed more than 100 interested community members at the Convention Center. Clearly the idea of a VIM Clinic in Monroe and Owen counties was the right idea, at the right time, and the community embraced it with great enthusiasm and financial support.
After the VIM clinic opened on April 23, 2007, VIM staff stayed in touch with the clinic’s Executive Director, assisting with the initial policies and procedures, and providing guidance on applying for the FTCA malpractice insurance. The clinic’s Executive Director continues to actively participate in the VIM Alliance online discussion group, a peer-to-peer network providing ongoing information and assistance to other open VIM clinics.
For additional information, visit Volunteers in Medicine of Monroe County.