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Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) national office staff Marge Hamrell and Sasha Bianchi traveled to Indiana earlier this month for a site visit with Volunteers in Medicine of Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland Counties (VIMDOS).

As is the case in too many communities across the United States, residents in this part of Indiana struggle to afford the costs of health insurance.  Nearly 15% of residents are uninsured and there are few available resources for ongoing medical care.

This situation inspired home health nurse Michelle Wilhelm to get involved.  She knew that she wanted to start a free clinic, but was not sure where to start.  Her internet searches led her to the Volunteers in Medicine national office.

(L to R): Michelle Wilhelm (VIM of Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland Counties Board President); Sasha Bianchi (VIM national office Executive Director); Dr. Steve Glaser (Southeastern Indiana Health Center (SEIHC) Medical Director); and Paul Tyrer (SEIHC Manager)

Marge Hamrell, Director of Clinic Development, coached Michelle to assemble an organizing committee composed of representatives from multiple sectors of the community.  As she began talking to local stakeholders, Michelle realized that the community was poised for action.  Dr. Lynn Eiler, a retired local physician who has participated in multiple medical missions to developing countries, signed on as the medical director.

During the site visit, Sasha and Marge toured the proposed clinic location, participated in interviews on local radio and television, and presented at a community forum.  Approximately fifty community members, including two local mayors and the hospital CEO attended the forum to show their support for the project.

The VIMDOS clinic has also received ongoing mentorship from the Southeastern Indiana Health Center, a member of the VIM Alliance located about forty-five minutes from the proposed clinic location. Now in its fourth year, SEIHC has moved into a custom designed space and is poised to add dental care soon.

Volunteers in Medicine of Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland Counties is planning a grand opening celebration in April 2018.  For a complete list of VIM Alliance members, visit the VIM Clinic Directory.

Members of the VIMDOS Organizing Committee with Marge Hamrell Director of Clinic Development at the VIM national office. (L to R): Dawn Wolcott, Kelley McDaniel, Marge Hamrell, Michelle Wilhelm, and Dr. Lynn Eiler