Lee County's Compassionate Care Clinic, located in Lehigh Acres at 1154 Lee Blvd., celebrated its first anniversary last week with a large crowd of 50 to 60 people turning out. Andrea Kuzbyt, executive director of Lee County Volunteers in Medicine Inc., (VIM) and Dr. Stephen Shroering, one of the founders, welcomed guests and talked about the success of the clinic over the past 12 months. Other founders included Dr. Mark Asperilla of Port Charlotte and Dr. David Klein and others.
"We want to let people know that we are here and that those who don't have insurance and those who are under insured, including the working poor, know that if they are having medical problems and can't afford a doctor, they can come to our clinic during the day and make an appointment to be seen by a physician or a physician's assistant and/or nurse for later in the day. Those who provide medical care donate their time as do several volunteers who work at the office, which is can easily be found off of E. County Lane, which is off Lee Blvd. Turn into the office strip center - when you turn on E. County Lane the clinic is the first building.
Those who need their service may also call 368-8080 to make appointments and/or to get advice.
Entrance to the Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) Compassionate Care Clinic in Lehigh. It is located at 1154 Lee Blvd. and is open to all people who have no insurance, or who are underinsured and cannot afford a doctor or other medical expenses.
"Actually, we began in May of 2011 and are just now celebrating our first year here and asked anyone who wanted to attend to stop by," said Shroering, who practiced medicine in Lehigh when the clinic opened, but is now in Punta Gorda. But he still maintains his volunteer work with the clinic and the board of directors which help to support the clinic financially, along with other gifts and monies to help pay the rent from the Medical Staff of Lehigh Regional Medical Center."
Schroerer said the clinic was patterned after those in Punta Gorda which are successful and work with several volunteer physicians and use the services of the local hospital there with no cost to the patient for hospital stay or for medications.
Grants are also available to support the clinic in Lehigh, which is open to anyone in Lee County who needs medical help, Schroering said. But before the clinic can get a large grant, it must treat 1,000 clients. Presently about half that amount or more has come through the clinic.
The Susan B. Coleman Foundation also provides financial help and medical treatment for women with breast cancer, Shroering said.
He said there are about a dozen citizens on the board of the Compassion Care Clinic and that each pays to be a member of the board supporting the clinic.
Schroering who has always been interested in those who can't afford medical care, said in Florida alone, there are five million people not insured. "That comes out to about one in four," he said.
He said plans are open another clinic in Fort Myers that will work in collaboration with the clinic in Lehigh.
Schroering said it is often difficult to get physicians from Fort Myers to come to volunteer in Lehigh because of the distance, but there are several physicians and their assistants who do volunteer time by coming to the clinic on appointments. Some come in the afternoons; others at night, and some have come to the clinic for an appointment on a Saturday.
The medical providers who give of their time include the following physicians and medical personnel, Mark Asperilla, J. Frank Avey, Jose Almanzar, Joseph Babey, Charlene Couillard, David Klein, Stephen Larkin, Joseph Lemmons, William Richardson and Ael Ruiz-Tellez.
Volunteer nursing providers include Nohemi Barrera, Diane champion, Robin Egdish, Jan Markley, Sharon Mitchell, Susan Moore, Roland Olive, Linda Patterson, Randy Reis, Geneva Rodriguez, Bobbie Ruggieri and Bernad Valliere.
The office staff volunteers include Mary Beck, Juliana Carrizales, Ashley Harris, Alyson Hubbell, Yulonda Jordan, Ge-reiel Leaphart, Carolyn McDonald, Nick Mallis, Barbara Marrero, Debbie Murphy, Regina Pegram, Alice Rodriguez, Barbara Salmons and Jocelyn Valliere. Linda Trosper is the volunteer office manager.
Outside, visitors were treated to subs and veggies and drinks.