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Volunteers in Medicine still will have role in community


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IN its 17th year, the highly praised Volunteers in Medicine clinic can safely be described as “in transition mode.”

Throughout its history the Jackson Street facility has filled one of the most vital roles in this community — providing health care to uninsured or indigent residents. It has done this through the donation of the time and services of dozens of health care professionals and sound fiscal management provided through Columbus Regional Hospital Foundation.

In the past two years the clinic has been confronted by two developments that can profoundly affect the delivery of those services.

The property on which the clinic is located on Jackson Street just north of Eighth Street is owned by the city, which has agreed to sell it to the hospital foundation. Officials with Cummins Inc. have confirmed their desire to acquire the property, which would be included in plans for a wellness clinic. Clinic operators hope to be able to move to a new location that would help it meet future needs.

The impact of the federal Affordable Care Act has triggered a re-evaluation of the clinic’s original mission in light of the requirements that most Americans be insured.

While it is likely that the clinic will undergo some major changes in the years ahead, one fact remains clear. Volunteers in Medicine will continue to have an important role in the community.

Director Mary Ferdon recently noted that the clinic is preparing for a future in which it provides more chronic disease management, more acute primary care and more case management services required under the federal health care law.

In planning for a new home that she hopes will be available by next summer, Ferdon put forth an important wish list that included such amenities as being at least as big as its current 5,100-square-foot clinic and located close to the central Columbus population it primarily serves.

Ideally, the new location would be near a bus line, but Ferdon said she is confident the city would work with the clinic to provide public transportation to the new facility when it is chosen.

The future for the clinic will be dependent not only on the major players, such as the clinic staff, its volunteers, the hospital foundation, Cummins Inc. and the city of Columbus, but also on the entire community.

Volunteers in Medicine has progressed to this point of success with the help of a great many individuals and organizations in this community who have recognized its intrinsic importance. This year the annual Reverse Raffle, a fundraising event for the clinic, brought in more than $170,000, a record eclipsing the $164,000 generated in 2012.

That continuing wave of support for this young institution speaks to the value placed upon it by the people of Bartholomew County.

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