More volunteers, stat!

Published 8:51 pm Monday, August 6, 2012

The Western Tidewater Free Clinic is seeking nurses and others who can join the small army of dedicated volunteers already donating their time and skills to the clinic.

A combination of factors, particularly steady growth in the number of patients it serves, have left the clinic short on volunteer staff even with a core group of volunteers who help regularly, executive director Miriam Beiler said Monday.

“We have great volunteers, but because of our increase in volume, we still need more,” she said. “Right now, we’re really focused on trying to get some nursing help.”

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The clinic is in need of nurses on all levels, from certified nurse assistants up to registered nurses and even nurse practitioners, said volunteer coordinator Vicki Butler.

Located on Meade Parkway, the clinic provides medical and dental services to people living in Suffolk, Franklin, and Isle of Wight and Southampton counties who don’t have health insurance and live below twice the poverty level.

It relies almost entirely on volunteers to operate, with only a handful of paid staff.

Butler said some volunteers have gotten new jobs, which has added to the workload for those remaining.

“At this time, we are in great need of additional nurses and medical assistants to help in the clinic,” Beiler wrote in an email. “We would like to broaden our group of volunteer nurses so we are not so heavily dependent on our core group.”

The clinic also has added services recently, including an expanded dental program, that have resulted in the need for more volunteers.

“The number of patients seen and the number of visits continues to grow, so we always need additional help,” Beiler wrote.

Duties of volunteer nurses may include taking patient medical histories, triaging patients for clinic visits, running lab tests and calling patients to follow up on test results, Beiler said.

Other volunteers also are needed, including physicians, dental hygienists and general volunteers.

All volunteers receive an orientation and are able to shadow staff or experienced volunteers before beginning work, Beiler added.

For more information on volunteering at the clinic, call 923-1060, ext. 7002 or visit