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Dr. Alberta Landis, dental services vice president for Community Volunteers in Medicine, with a patient (Photo by Shane McCauley)As the struggling economy continues to complicate many people’s lives, affordable healthcare is an issue the media and lawmakers can’t stop buzzing about. Meanwhile, the nonprofit Community Volunteers in Medicine has been tackling the problem locally for 11 years now, offering free medical, pharmaceutical and dental care to the working poor of Chester County.

More than 100 clinicians volunteer their time and talents to CVIM, which also relies on drug assistance programs through local pharmaceutical partnerships and philanthropic donations. Its West Chester clinic operates like a primary-care office. Medical emergency care, dental procedures and a drug dispensary are available on-site.

“Because [the working poor] aren’t eligible for the traditional safety net like medical assistance, they fall through the cracks,” says CVIM president Maureen Tomoschuk. “So we see ourselves as a safety net beneath the safety net the government provides. [CVIM patients are] looking for a hand up, not a handout.”

In the past year, CVIM has served nearly 3,000, averaging 100 new patients a month. As unemployment increased and more people suddenly found themselves without health insurance, the organization was able to adapt to the increased need, expanding its impact as a result.

Even so, CVIM needs volunteers, including medical practitioners, patient advocates and fundraising help.

To learn more, visit cvim.org.

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