Volunteers in Medicine America is a national nonprofit dedicated to building a network of free primary health care clinics for the uninsured and underserved. For the first two decades of the organization’s history, the VIM America network was composed of organizations that had worked with our staff to plan, organize, and launch their clinic.
Recognizing that free clinics continue to hold a distinctive place in the health care safety net, in 2018 Volunteers in Medicine America made a strategic decision to expand its network to include established free clinics that are aligned with the basic tenets of the Volunteers in Medicine model:
- Is or is part of a 501c3 tax-exempt organization.
- Is community-owned and supported, and through its governing body remains accountable to the community as a whole and not to any single institution or funder.
- Provides one or more of the following services: medical care, dental care, or behavioral health care. May be in a fixed-site facility, mobile health unit, or portable (“pop-up”) clinic.
- Primarily serves low-income, uninsured individuals.
- Provides healthcare services free of charge to the patients.
- Does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation in patient eligibility and volunteer participation.
- Has at least one “provider champion” – a well-respected provider who is a leader, who recruits other healthcare professionals, and who effectively advocates for the clinic within the larger healthcare community.
- Adheres to the “Circle of Caring” philosophy in which patients are treated as friends and neighbors in a supportive, caring atmosphere, and not as diseases, cases, or numbers.
- Relies heavily on volunteer health care professionals, with particular interest in those who are retired.
To join the Volunteers in Medicine America network, clinics that meet the above standards must submit an application and undergo a review process which includes an interview with the clinic leadership, a review of corporate and organizational documents, and in some cases a site visit.