by SOPHIE BIRD
Bloomington residents may notice changes to Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) at the end of the year, but Executive Director Nancy Richman says the clinic’s not going anywhere, it’s just entering a new era.
On December 31, VIM will become HealthNet Bloomington Health Center, receiving the designation of a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), and allowing it to serve up to 3,000 additional patients in 2020.
“That’s been our mission from the beginning—health care access,” Richman says. “In order to continue our mission, we’ve essentially moved to the next chapter.”
Thanks to a recent partnership with HealthNet Indy, the clinic at 811 W. 2nd St. will soon have its new name and logo, renovated and expanded facilities, and several new staff doctors.
Founded in 2007, VIM has historically provided free health care to uninsured Monroe County adults. As a FQHC, the clinic will be able to help those patients, as well as insured and underinsured patients of all ages, including children, who were previously unable to receive care at VIM.
“We’ll be able to see the whole family, which is transformative in terms of managing chronic conditions,” Richman says. “If one of the adults in the family has diabetes, the family has diabetes, because you’re talking about changing lifestyles.”
Richman says the HealthNet Bloomington Health Center will be a safety-net clinic, and payment will operate on a sliding scale in order to serve patients of all income levels and backgrounds.
Forrest Gilmore, executive director of Shalom Community Center, says many Shalom patrons were previously unable to attend VIM due to their eligibility for Medicaid, but will now be able to receive care in a supportive environment.
“Sometimes a primary care physician isn’t prepared to deal with or support [our clients],” Gilmore says. “My hope is that VIM, in its new incarnation, will be able to do that more fully, and that this will allow them to work with even more people.”
Renovation over the next several months will move some of the clinic’s patient services off-site, but Richman says they won’t be closing during the process.
“We’ll still be here,” she says.