For 20 years, Bartholomew County residents and the local medical community have strongly supported the Volunteers in Medicine clinic, established to serve people without health insurance. Doctors, nurses and other health professionals have donated their time to provide medical services for the clinic’s clients.

The community at large also has been exceptionally generous with its support of the annual Reverse Raffle dinner each November, the biggest fundraiser on behalf of the clinic. Last year, 500 people attended the event and a record $195,000 was raised, topping the previous record of $182,000.

This year, the clinic undergoes a name change and a change in its business model that will include accepting patients with insurance, and it will pay health professionals for their time spent working at the clinic. The clinic will officially become VIMCare when it opens Sept. 7 in the former emergency room facilities at Columbus Regional Hospital. The new business model allows those who are new state or federal health care recipients but who are unable to secure a local doctor to get care through the clinic.

A shortage of local doctors has made it difficult for some people who are on federal Medicaid or the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan, so VIM’s new model will fill an important need.

One thing that will remain the same is the continued need for local support. The clinic will not be self-sufficient under the new business model, still requiring a sizable stake from the Columbus Regional Health Foundation of an estimated $330,000 to $340,000 a year. The foundation will still have to fund mental and behavioral health services, which are not covered by Medicare and Medicaid. So the annual Reverse Raffle component of fundraising won’t change.

Come November and the annual raffle, the community will have yet another opportunity to voluntarily support the clinic and its mission, a commitment that we hope won’t change.