Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine (CVVIM) understands affordable healthcare is one of the most significant issues for many people in the United States. To that end, it continues to offer local solutions to a national dilemma by providing a variety of medical services and care at no cost to adults in the Coachella Valley who are uninsured or under-insured.
“There are close to 30,000 people who don’t have insurance in Coachella Valley, and they’re not necessarily undocumented individuals,” says Doug J. Morin, executive director of CVVIM. “These are individuals working two, sometimes three or more jobs, just to provide for themselves and their family. And not one of those jobs offers them health insurance. They never make enough to actually afford health insurance.”
He’s quick to note that in many cases, health insurance provided by employers does not always meet certain medical needs, thereby requiring individuals to qualify for Medi-Cal or even subsidized plans.
“People who clean our homes, our pools, care for our lawns, or care for our loved ones need to be healthy,” Morin adds. “And if they’re not, guess what? All we have to do is think about the flu or COVID-19, okay. Everybody should do something, someplace, to help individuals have access to the primary care services they need.”
CVVIM has two clinics in the region—the VIM Health Center is located in Indio; another center is in Palm Springs. The centers treat the whole person by addressing chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis. Acute conditions, including flu, colds, and emotional health, are also treated.
CVVIM is a member of Volunteers in Medicine, a prominent national nonprofit alliance with more than 90 free clinics across the country. Recently, the organization received a grant from the FitzDell Gifting Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation.
“Grants like this are vital to us,” Morin says. “People tend to think because we’re a medical clinic, we bill insurance or receive reimbursement for the services we provide from, for example, the county or the state, and that’s just not true. All the services we provide are offered free of charge to the patients. We only accept patients who are lower income and don’t have any health insurance or can’t afford to use their health insurance.”
Other issues factor in to gage assistance. For instance, an individual may have health insurance but need their doctor to agree to certain services which can cost hundreds of dollars or more. For some, that amount of money is the difference between getting gas for a car to take the children to school, go to work, or put food on the table, Morin points out.
“Grants such as this make the very basic work we do even more possible,” Morin says.
Events and fundraisers also provide a boost. The popular VIMY Awards and Live Auction, for instance, was held on Nov. 4. The event honors significant contributors to overall healthcare in the region. This year’s honoree was former Monsignor, Howard Lincoln of the Catholic Diocese. Lincoln is also a prominent philanthropic force at Eisenhower Health and has been instrumental in offering unique programs addressing the needs of the impoverished and homeless communities, as well as offering significant life-changing solutions.
Elsewhere, look for another round of the Bermuda Dunes Celebrity Classic Golf Tournament, presented by The Hale-Rodman Family, to kick off in May 2024. Morin says the combination of grants and popular fundraisers assists the organization in meeting annual costs and keeping healthcare and various programs afloat.
“We’re giving people a place to receive primary care so they can stay healthy,” Morin notes, pointing out the myriad preventative health and wellness programs to organization has. “A large part of what we’re doing here is education, and educating people around various health-related issues saves in the long run. It saves the individual, it saves cost to the community, it saves for future insurance costs.”
This story originally appeared in the Desert Sun November 2023.
Learn more about Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine at cvvim.org.
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