Medical care is expensive, and some people don’t have the means to afford it — which makes matters worse for their health. Thankfully, Bartholomew County has a resource, known as Volunteers in Medicine, to help people receive medical care even when they don’t have medical insurance.

The clinic — which begins a new model as VIMCare on Sept. 7 by also accepting patients who qualify for the state Medicaid and federal Medicare programs — opened in 1996 in response to a growing need for medical care for a segment of the county’s population that couldn’t afford it. More than 11,000 patients have been served in that time.

The retiring Dr. Charles Rau deserves a lot of the credit for the care they’ve received.

Rau was one of the people instrumental in establishing the free clinic. Volunteers in Medicine is part of Rau’s legacy of longtime care, as he has served the medical needs of Bartholomew County residents for nearly 60 years.

Rau moved to Columbus in 1959, and along with medical school classmate Ben Ranck took over the medical practice of Dr. Bill Wissman. In 1961, another friend from medical school, Dr. Forrest Daughterty, joined the practice. The practice was so successful that it grew into what is now known as Sandcrest Family Medicine.

Experiences from Rau’s youth and the poverty he saw through clients factored into his creation of a child care medical clinic in 1970 with multiple locations in the county. He later helped develop the Health Care and Referral Clinic, which connected patients with doctors who agreed to help those who couldn’t pay.

When it became apparent in the mid-1990s that the need for health care for the poor was a growing issue, Rau again stepped up and helped launch Volunteers in Medicine.

Rau’s efforts to serve the medical needs of Bartholomew County residents are honorable and to be commended. His help in particular for the poor and uninsured has made an important impact on their lives and created what has shown to be an important local safety net to protect the health of many residents.