Brotherly Love: Clinic Volunteers Treat Patients Free In Chester County

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–For almost 20 years, a medical clinic in Chester County has been spreading brotherly love treating thousands of patients. They do it with hundreds of medical professionals whose only pay is patients’ gratitude.

Patty Seeders of Pottstown is right on time for her annual checkup at the clinic in West Chester. She says for the last two years, it’s been a godsend, keeping her diabetes in check, even treating a thyroid lump.

“Where I worked, they didn’t cover part-time people anymore, like most places,” Patty said.

The clinic is called Community Volunteers in Medicine. Patty is exactly the success story Dr. Mary Wirshup wants to see.

“You live sicker, you die younger, you pray you don’t get sick when you don’t have insurance,” Dr. Mary Wirshup.

“We’re saving lives,” said Maureen Tomoschuk, president and CEO of Community Volunteers in Medicine. She oversees more than 390 volunteer medical professionals who treat more than 35,000 low-income patients every year for free.

Volunteer Dr. Laura Offett sees dozens of them: “School bus drivers, pharmacy techs, home health aides.”

Tomoschuk says even with the Affordable Care Act, working people fall through the cracks.

“Some of the patients who have enrolled and received insurance through the [ACA] have used their insurance but have high co-pays and co-insurances, which led them to being dropped by their coverage,” Tomoschuk said.

Patients can qualify to be treated at the clinic if they live in the community and make less than 300 percent of federal poverty level. The clinic runs solely on donations and the strength of volunteers.

“Without them, it wouldn’t be possible for us to do what we do,” Tomoschuk said.

“Here you talk to everybody. Everybody gives you hugs!” Patty said.

One more thing: Patients get to ring a bell to celebrate being healthy.

Community Volunteers in Medicine can be reached through their website, http://cvim.org/

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