Free clinic needs volunteer docs

Published 10:47 pm Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Western Tidewater Free Clinic is seeking physician volunteers to help provide free, high-quality medical care for the uninsured in an attempt to reduce the health care gap in Western Tidewater. It is estimated approximately 20,000 uninsured adults reside in the 1,400-square-mile region, and WTFC is the only free clinic serving this large geographic area.

Primary care doctors are needed Monday through Friday, for one, two or even four hours once a month with flexible scheduling. Medical malpractice insurance is provided for all volunteers while on site. NAP tax credits are also available for most physician volunteers.

Members of the WTFC staff schedule all testing for patients and provide case-management services, medications and patient education.

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Physician volunteers are always in demand, and the number of patients seen at WTFC is predicated on the number of doctors volunteering. Most months, there are more than 200 people on the waiting list for medical services at WTFC.

As a local internist in full-time practice, as well as a volunteer physician at WTFC, I’ve come to recognize what one does in life affects others in so many ways. Giving back to our community is one avenue for physician colleagues to support the WTFC.

I became involved in the formative stage of WTFC in 2006. Its mission to provide high-quality, consistent care for the uninsured and working poor residing in Western Tidewater resonated with me. I realized my clinical expertise and skills could make a difference in the community where I live and work.

Volunteering at WTFC also filled my desire to volunteer in humanitarian efforts, and it didn’t require traveling to another country to achieve the same sense of purpose or contribution.

My time at the clinic has allowed me to witness first-hand the benefits of uninsured patients having access to high-quality primary care services. The caring staff and volunteers help ensure the patients receive the care, medications, information and referrals they need to manage their health.

Providing primary care through WTFC also reduces the chance that a patient will need to visit the emergency room or hospital for episodic care.

Being part of a team that provides compassionate care to some of the most vulnerable in our community is more rewarding than I can describe. In fact, volunteers tell me they receive more than they give.

Being in the corps of people whose helping hands give health and hope to those in need of health care is an extraordinary experience. I hope you will join me in WTFC’s mission and become a volunteer at WTFC.

Dr. Joe Verdirame is a Western Tidewater Free Clinic Board Member and physician volunteer. For more information on volunteering and details on others services available at the Western Tidewater Free Clinic, contact Miriam Beiler, executive director, at 923-1060 Ext. 7001 or at mbeiler@wtfreeclinic.org. The clinic is located at 2019 Meade Parkway in Suffolk.