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AMA Foundation Support to Free Clinics Is More Than Financial

Patient with diabetes says clinic "saved her life"

Volunteers in Medicine Clinic

A recent American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation survey found that the physician-led free medical clinics that received Healthy Communities/Healthy America (HC/HA) grants prospered beyond the expectations of their funding.

Recipients are very proud of their AMA Foundation grant. Most reported listing their grant as an accomplishment in proposals to other funders.  Clinics felt they gained "reputational capital" because of the AMA Foundation name and received more recognition in their communities.  This had led to organizational sustainability long after HC/HA grants have ended.

In an effort to bring attention to free clinics, the uninsured and physician volunteerism, the AMA Foundation launched the HC/HA program in 2007.  Today over $672,000 has been awarded nationally to 33 free clinics that provide free or low-cost medical care to uninsured or underinsured populations.

The Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) Clinic in Springfield, Ore., received a 2010 HC/HA grant to help support their diabetes program, which includes a diabetic dietician, medicine and diabetic supplies such as test strips and lancets.

"Without Volunteers in Medicine I wouldn't be a survivor," explained patient Vicky Allard, 56, a part-time freelance stage hand. "Without their help I wouldn't be able to afford my insulin or syringes."

VIM staff has counseled Ms. Allard about nutrition and exercise and helped coach her on taking her medicine. Because diabetes is the most common diagnosis, the clinic established a diabetes management and education program in 2005.

"This is the best clinic I have ever been to. It's not just the medicine; the whole staff really cares and they never treat you like charity," continued Ms. Allard.

In 2010 and 2011, HC/HA grants focus specifically on diabetes management and education projects.  This year's activity is supported by a contribution from Lilly USA, LLC. Additional funding is provided by Don Q. Mitchell, MD, Mary Sue Mitchell, and other generous donors. 

The VIM Clinic provides free health services to the working uninsured. Last year, they treated 1,719 patients in 11,770 visits. Approximately 450 community and medical volunteers donated more than 30,000 hours of their time for an in-kind value of $800,000.