Volunteers in Medicine Executive Director Keith Weedman, who has run the nonprofit health clinic on Jackson Street for nearly seven years, is resigning.
Weedman, 60, said he would like to start his own company, one that would help people living in poverty create viable options for themselves and foster paths to self-sufficiency within communities.
His resignation was announced Tuesday, and his last day at Volunteers in Medicine — which provides health care to Bartholomew County residents without medical insurance — will be June 30.
Weedman, who was Montgomery County’s welfare director two decades ago, has been taking part in the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Fuse program with a goal of establishing a consulting business or nonprofit.
“I want to end up doing something that involves entire communities,” Weedman said. “In my career, I’ve worked for government and for a nonprofit, but I’ve never managed my own business. That’s what I’d like to do next. It’s stimulating.”
Weedman said he doesn’t have his future completely figured out, but he will remain in Columbus at least until the end of the year, when the Fuse program, a workshop on innovation and entrepreneurship, wraps up.
“I think the world of Volunteers in Medicine, and no matter where I and my family decide to call home, I will always be a champion and advocate for the volunteer clinic. It’s been a privilege to work with the generous volunteers and staff members here. I feel blessed to have been part of it.”
Beth Morris, director of community health partnerships at Columbus Regional Hospital, said a search committee has been formed to identify potential successors. The committee’s goal will be to hire someone before Weedman leaves this summer.
“We’ll be screening the applicants and interviewing. We hope to be able to make a job offer quickly enough so that the new person will have time to overlap and train under Keith,” Morris said Tuesday.
When asked what attributes the next director should have, Morris said: “They will need a commitment to the (low-income) population served by the clinic and some basic, strong administrative skills above all else.”
The clinic serves patients who have no private or government health insurance and no other way to get medical care. The hospital foundation provides $406,000 a year to fund most of the health clinic’s $465,000 annual budget. Grants make up the rest of the budget.
During his tenure, Weedman was responsible for the clinic qualifying to obtain medical malpractice coverage for retired physicians, dentists and other health care professionals who volunteer at the clinic.
He also oversaw a transition to using electronic medical records at the clinic, which operates five days per week in the 800 block of Jackson Street.
“Keith has done fantastic work at Volunteers in Medicine, coping with a growth in needs, changing demographics and significant staffing challenges during his tenure,” said Dave McKinney, president of the nonprofit clinic’s board. “At all times, Keith has demonstrated the highest level of integrity, compassion, professionalism and leadership. He will be missed.”
The executive director’s search committee will include board members on the clinic’s Executive Committee and representatives from the Columbus Regional Health
Foundation and Columbus Regional Health Physicians.
Morris said Weedman will be difficult to replace, and his departure comes at a crucial time for the small medical outpost. Wanda Hadley, a longtime nurse who had been serving as clinical director, stepped down earlier this month due to health problems.
“We’re well into the process of filling that position. We’re doing interviews, and we’ve already narrowed the field,” Morris said.
“Keith has a deep commitment to give those in need a hand up so they can break out of the cycle of poverty,” Morris said. “He does a wonderful job of empowering people to change their life circumstances.”
Morris said the timing of the leadership changeover isn’t ideal, but at the same time, leaders knew 2013 was going to be a year of transition due to the federal Affordable Care Act taking effect and Medicaid expanding nationally to cover more uninsured people at higher income levels.
Indiana’s legislature and Gov. Mike Pence continue to debate how the state will handle that transition and whether it will accept a promise of federal funds to cover more people under the Medicaid program.
Morris said Weedman was generous in delaying the effective date of his resignation until the end of June to allow time for a thorough search for his replacement.
“This gives us an opportunity to bring in a couple of new folks who are willing to help us figure out what the future holds and our response to the Affordable Care Act. But we think the community’s commitment to Volunteers in Medicine remains strong,” Morris said.