Volunteers In Medicine: A Whole Village Approach

Health care should be a right. Health advocates in New Jersey and around the country are doing their part on a volunteer basis to bring health care directly to those who cannot afford health insurance. This article is about a number of organizations dedicated to delivering free health care in their communities.

VIM patients earn too much for Medicare and not old enough for Medicare yet. At the end of the month there is little money left to cover the high cost of premiums, co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. This may sound familiar to the one in ten households who are uninsured.

VIM patients tend to have chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The types of conditions typical to middle-aged people, who have worked in service and manual labor, lived with very low income, and rarely “doctored.” Patients that register with VIM receive free, quality primary care, specialists care when available and prescription medicine assistance. Perhaps more importantly, VIM becomes their advocate to ensure continuity of care.

There are four VIM organizations in New Jersey, all part of a nationwide network. They are:

Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative, Inc.
Established: 2009
URL: www.bvmi.org/
Area of Coverage: Bergen County
Office/Telephone: Hackensack, 201-342-2478
Eligibility Criteria: 1)Live in Bergen County; 2)Working and earnings up to 300% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines; 3)Do not have health insurance; 4)Do not qualify for Medicaid; 5)Do not qualify for Medicare; 6)Do not qualify for subsidized healthcare

Coastal Volunteers in Medicine
Established: 2013
URL: www.coastalvim.org
Area of Coverage: Southern Ocean County
Office/Telephone: Barnegat, 609-384-0102
Eligibility Criteria: 1)Live in Southern Ocean County; 2)Have no health insurance; 3)Do not qualify for Medicaid; 4)Annual income equal to or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines

Parker Family Health Center
Established: 2000
URL: www.parkerfamilyhealthcenter.org
Area of Coverage: Monmouth County
Office/Telephone: Red Bank, 732-212-0777
Eligibility Criteria: 1)Uninsured and do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid; 2)Annual income is under 300% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines

Volunteers in Medicine of South Jersey
Established: 2002
URL: www.vimsj.org
Area of Coverage: Atlantic and Cape May Counties
Office/Telephone: Egg Harbor Township, 609-867-6384; Cape May Court House, 609-463-2846
Eligibility Criteria: 1)Uninsured or no usable insurance (high deductable/co-pay); 2)Income no more than 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines

A recent Press of Atlantic City news article provides a look at the Volunteers in Medicine of South Jersey.

To find a VIM clinic in other states visit the national Volunteers in Medicine website.

The Federal Poverty Guidelines are issued annually in late January by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Author: Michael Swayze

Former county welfare agency administrator, using a combination of social work and computer skills to share information about community resources via the Internet. Online since 1995.