(Dr. Corso with a patient | Photo courtesy of Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades)
Bend-based St. Charles Health System has partnered with Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades (VIM) to match up to $480,000 in funding the clinic raises during the two-year period ending March 2020, nearly doubling the health system’s overall community investment.
During the final year of the partnership – March 2019 to March 2020 – St. Charles has agreed to match dollar-for-dollar up to $240,000 of contributions made by medical professionals. This amount was chosen as a conservative estimate of how much money St. Charles saves as a result of the services provided by Volunteers in Medicine.
VIM uses the collaborative power of over 200 annual in-clinic volunteers and local health care partners to provide low-income working adults who don’t have health insurance with necessary medical care. VIM is the only clinic in Central Oregon that cares for the uninsured without charge, supplying primary and specialty medical care, medications, mental health care, surgery, physical therapy, lab work, medical tests and education programs.
“Thousands of people remain uninsured in Central Oregon and struggle to find access to affordable health care,” said Kat Mastrangelo, VIM executive director. “Volunteers in Medicine is a local solution to a local health care problem. Through our network of providers, we are able to leverage every $1 raised into $6.86 in medical services and community benefits for the uninsured.”
VIM has experienced an increase in requests for medical services and medications, but its funding has not kept pace with the demand, Mastrangelo said.
“To stabilize our funding base so that we can meet our patients’ needs, we are seeking support from Central Oregon’s health care community to match St. Charles’ generous investment,” she said. “Any donation from a licensed health care individual, provider or group practice, medical foundation or organization will help us meet our goal.”
Over the last fiscal year, 1,050 low-income adults qualified for care at VIM’s clinic. The clinic saw 7,216 medical provider visits, eligibility screenings, and pharmacy consultations in the clinic, and had 630 visits to VIM’s off-site community medical partners.
VIM volunteers donated some 14,245 hours to the clinic, valued at $804,038 in services. The annual community benefit is estimated at $5.9 million, while serving just a fraction of the 9,602 potential patient population the clinic said.
“What makes VIM special is its value proposition,” said Dr. Jeff Absalon, St. Charles’ chief physician executive. “It convenes a pro bono network of specialists to coordinate case management, which helps ensure patients receive the right care at the right time. If VIM were to go away, the result would be more costly and fragmented care.”
St. Charles Health System is a private, not-for-profit corporation and the largest employer in Central Oregon with more than 4,300 caregivers. St. Charles owns and operates St. Charles Bend, Madras, Prineville and Redmond as well as family care clinics in Bend, Madras, Prineville, Redmond and Sisters.