Volunteers

Welcome Board Chairman: Bruce Livingston

B.Livingston 001Bruce Livingston is the Chairman of the Board of the Clearwater Free Clinic! We are honored to have Bruce lead the Clinic into the future as he heads the renovation project of our new facility that is currently underway. He has seen first hand the progress of the Clinic over the years and is excited for what is to come.
His ferver for the Clinic’s mission makes him the perfect candidate for the Board Chair position. The impact that the Clinic has on the health of the community is possible because of individuals like Bruce who see the potential of our organization and act in any way they can to help. He goes above and beyond to ensure that the CFC is running optimally and we will benefit immensely from his leadership!
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Volunteer Spotlight: Welcome Back Demetra!

When we meet a volunteer that comes back to help time and time again, they deserve to be recognized. Demetra began as a Clinic volunteer six years ago as a high school sophomore. Since then, she’s become a University of Florida Gator and has made her return to the Clinic a rising college senior as a clerical intern. She is focusing her studies on Chemistry, and we can’t help but think we have something to do with her decision to minor in Health Disparities!

When asked what keeps her coming back to the Clinic, she says it’s the special connection with the patients here. “The dynamic between patients and the Clinic is remarkable. Knowing that without the Clinic, they would not otherwise be able to receive care allows us to shine as a beacon of hope for them.” Demetra loves spreading the message of the Clinic to those in her church community and has quite the soft spot for our mission and those we serve. Thank you for all that you do!

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Happy National Pharmacist’s Day!

Mark your calendars folks! Every year on January 12th, we celebrate those unsung heroes of the healthcare industry with National Pharmacist’s Day. Here at the Clearwater Free Clinic, every day is Pharmacist’s Day because we wouldn’t be able to satisfy our patients’ needs without our wonderful volunteer pharmacists. Their expertise, care and dedication is what keeps our clinic running seamlessly and providing cost-free medications to those that need them.

IMG_0712 (002)Today, we’d like to highlight one of our own, Debbie. She has been a volunteer pharmacist at the Clearwater Free Clinic since 2009 and selflessly gives her time to those in need, even with her responsibilities at the Morton Plant Hospital where she works. Her favorite part about working here at the clinic? The patients. “The people you get to work with. The patients always seem so nice and appreciative.” She speaks particularly about one patient, Doreen who has had difficulty accepting care in the past but has really taken to Debbie and her kind and humorous nature. This self-proclaimed cat-lover makes our clinic family whole!

Pharmacists do so much more for patients than most realize. They have the knowledge to educate others about how to use their medications and the compassionate understanding to counsel. We know that our clinic simply wouldn’t be the same without our volunteer pharmacists.

So, here’s to Debbie, our pharmacy team here at the Clearwater Free Clinic and all of the pharmacists out there! We thank you for all that you do. Is there a pharmacist in your life that you’d like to thank today? Let them know they are loved!

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How many nurses do you know?

Cl.Free.Clin 051Mothers, sisters, brothers, friends, neighbors, classmates…nurses at the doctor’s office, nurses at the hospital, nurses at school, nurses at the walk-in clinic…

This is National Nurses Week, celebrated each year from May 6th through Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12th.  Here at the Clearwater Free Clinic we salute our nurses and recognize both the knowledge and the heart that they have.  Nurses study hard and learn much in the classroom, in clinical practice, and in the daily routines of nursing.  They need to know when to question an order, how to revive a patient in crisis, how to perform intricate and demanding medical tasks.

DSC_0058 (1024x678)Along with practiced technical skills, nurses also need tender hearts that provide care, education, and
encouragement to their patients.  Nurses try to make patients comfortable, gently re-explain diagnoses and treatment plans, and care for families in times of grief.  Nurses are our front-line medical caregivers, and this is their week!

If you would like to honor a special nurse that you know, click here to donate to the Clearwater Free Clinic where our volunteer nurses care for low-income, uninsured families here in Pinellas County.  Be sure to include your nurse’s name and address in the notes section so the Clinic can send a personal announcement of your gift; you will also receive an acknowledgment of your tax-deductible gift.  donate-now-big-engWhat better way to say “Thank You’” to a nurse who gives exemplary care than to provide nursing care to someone else who needs it?

Make a donation in honor of your favorite nurse Now!

 

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Volunteer Spotlight – Victor

victorVictor Riccardo is recognized by the CFC staff and volunteers as a skilled and compassionate nurse who is deeply committed to our Clinic patients. While running his family’s very successful healthcare staffing business and working on a second graduate degree, Victor takes every opportunity to volunteer at the Clinic. Victor’s commitment to the Clearwater Free Clinic has a very personal connection…a story which he shares openly when asked. He has had serious health challenges in the past and cannot imagine being without the resources to receive medical care when needed. Despite driving from New Port Richey, Victor is always eager to help, volunteering whenever possible to interact with and educate our clinic patients.

Victor’s first introduction to the CFC was as a student, completing required clinical hours for a graduate course. “I’ve been an active member of the healthcare community for years but was unaware of the tremendous number who seek treatment at CFC.” When asked what keeps him coming back, he answers, “That’s not hard to answer…the excellent care that the patients receive here at the Clinic!”
“Next, I have been affected by the professionalism of staff and volunteers and the high standard of care that the patients receive here. The continuity of care is on the level of any private pay medical clinic and is given with a genuine outpouring of feeling and consideration for the patient.”
Finally, Victor encourages others to support the Clinic. “When you give to the CFC, you are helping a neighbor to obtain medical care, and if you volunteer, you can be part of a team that makes a difference one patient at a time. All are welcomed here to face challenges together for the purpose of healing.”
Mary Lovera, Clinical Director, smiled as she said, “He is a truly generous man who has taught me new ways to educate patients! Very generous with his time and talents and always ready to lend a helping hand. I am so fortunate that I have gotten to know him.” The Clinic is so grateful for Victor, but not as grateful as he is to serve here. “I cherish the time I spend here and get so much more back than I give from those I encounter and can help.”

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Linda Alegarbes – Volunteer Nutritionist

lindaMarch is National Nurtition Month and we are so thankful for our volunteer Nutritionist Linda Alegarbes! When Linda Alegarbes went to nursing school in her native Philippines, she found she didn’t like nursing after all. Her mother had read about a new course of study at the University, Foods and Nutrition; Linda gave that a try and found her life’s purpose! After earning her Masters’s at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, her international adventures began.

Linda has worked in many places…Detroit, Boston, and Philadelphia. She was invited to London to work on a research project that was to last two years; she ended up staying five, working with renowned European physicians and having articles published in The Lancet and other medical journals. Her work has taken her around the globe, but her ending up in Dunedin is a huge gift to the Clearwater Free Clinic.

Invited by a neighbor who volunteered, Linda came to the Clinic and quickly found her niche. Every other Tuesday, she has appointments with people who can use her expert suggestions…most of her patients deal with hypertension, obesity and/or diabetes. Linda knows that unless her clients share the truth with her, she cannot be of much assistance. To that end, Linda enjoys getting to know her patients, laughing and sharing stories, growing a trusting relationship.

If patients can be honest with her (and with themselves!) about what they eat, she can start where they are and help them to make small but meaningful changes. With every small success comes motivation to do more. Along with dietary changes, she encourages more exercise…“You know, people can burn calories by using their arms and legs even when they’re sitting down. Grab some weights and start moving!”

Linda loves coming to coach her patients at the Clinic, but she wishes that nutrition education could begin way back in elementary school, when lifetime habits are often set. She knows that if children could learn not to drink soda, could decrease their sugar and salt intake, and would never Supersize their food, ours would be a far healthier society.

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National Pharmacist’s Day

IMG_4782.1PRESCRIPTION FOR A HEALTHY YEAR AHEAD

January 12, 2016 is National Pharmacists Day, a day set aside to acknowledge the huge but often unsung role of pharmacists in our healthcare.  Not only do pharmacists fill our prescriptions, but they also counsel us on their use, educate us on their side effects, and monitor how all our medications interact with each other.  Without our pharmacists, we would have diagnoses without medicine to treat them!

To celebrate Pharmacists Day, the Clearwater Free Clinic wants to spotlight one of our own…volunteer pharmacist, Tom Angel.  Tom has been a faithful volunteer since 2007 when he was newly retired and heard of the Clinic from another who had volunteered here.  “The need for volunteers is great, and I think the volunteer gets more back than they put in,” says Tom.  “Personally, I have always liked helping others with their medical situations.  Every patient I have talked with expresses their gratitude and says ‘thank you.’ I believe they are very sincere in what they say.”

What specific memory keeps Tom coming back to the Clinic? “Being an insulin-dependent diabetic for over 50 years and having hands-on experience with the disease, I have especially enjoyed sharing my knowledge with several diabetic patients who needed some guidance.”

And Tom is not alone in his volunteerism…it’s a family affair!  His two grandsons volunteered here during their high school years, and Tom’s wife Sharon does clerical duties at the clinic, helping with whatever is needed. They are both looking forward to their time in the Clinic in 2016, and we are surely looking forward to having them! Happy Pharmacist’s Day, Tom!

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Jessica Keshishian, MD and Mom

Celebrating Child Health at home and at CFC

This month we turn the spotlight on Jessica Keshishian, a pediatrician who volunteers at CFC.  Dr. Keshishian had her first son 2 weeks after completing her medical residency and immediately made an unlikely decision; she decided to stay home with her children rather than join a practice right away.

Having volunteered in the community since her teens, Jessica began looking for a volunteer niche that would allow her “the opportunity to practice medicine without having to compromise my decision to stay at home with my kids.”  She heard about the clinic from her best friend who rotated through the clinic as part of her Morton Plant residency program.

Jessica started volunteering at the Clinic on Wednesday mornings, and she was hooked.  “On one of my first days, I cared for a young girl with autism. At the end of the visit, the girl’s mom looked me in the eyes and said she couldn’t believe her daughter took so well to me as she normally does not do well with doctors, let alone strangers. It really made my day. Her sincerity has always stuck with me.”

DSC_0036 (678x1024)“As much as I love being home with my boys (Jameson [3], Jayce [15 months], and a third baby due in late March), I love medicine, too. I greatly enjoy imparting  medical advice and anticipatory guidance to families, helping them care for their child’s health. Plus seeing the kids smile at the end of each visit, getting hugs and high-fives are some of the best rewards.”

Dr. Keshishian knows that the Clinic operates through the simple generosity of people.  “I am so grateful to have found the Clearwater Free Clinic, as it truly fills a huge need in our community: providing quality healthcare to those who are uninsured,” she says.  “The employees and volunteers are so compassionate and selfless; it is a place I feel honored to be a part of. I would strongly encourage anyone to get involved and volunteer.  For those who cannot physically volunteer, what better way to give back than to donate to the Clearwater Free Clinic that is making such a difference in people’s lives every day?”

Dr. Keshishian offers her best advice for all adults…

“Everyone can do their part to improve the health of children by setting an example themselves.  This can be done by getting vaccinated, choosing healthy food options at the grocery store, being physically active, limiting screen time, and using proper safety gear such as seatbelts and helmets.  Children look up to the adults in their lives, and they will model the behavior, actions, and values of those around them.”

Dr. Keshishian does her part every time she volunteers here at the Clinic; we are so grateful for her and all the other volunteers who help our pediatric patients to grow strong and healthy

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CFC Volunteer Gives Back

Volunteer Chiropractor, Dr. Marc Rogers, gives back to the Clinic that helped his family.

Dr. Marc Rogers is a Largo chiropractor who is usually at his own busy office, but every other Tuesday afternoon he sees patients at the Clearwater Free Clinic. He breezes in with a smile and a friendly word for everyone in his path and then gets to work easing the pain of a stream of patients. “I want you to know that I’m very grateful to be here,” he says. “I always leave in a better mood.”

 

Dr. Rogers is candid about his devotion to the Clinic. In the early eighties, when he was a boy and his parents divorced, his mom “hit hard times” and, though working, could not afford insurance or medical care. Life was a struggle, and she became a patient at this Clinic. Because of his mom, Dr. Rogers has always intended to provide care for people who can’t afford it.
Last year, Dr. Rogers met Jeannie Shapiro, our Executive Director, and expressed an interest in volunteering but at that time the Clinic had no appropriate space available. A few months later, however, Jeannie fashioned a treatment space in the newly-acquired Valerie Nisk Annex, and the rest, as they say, is history. “I like helping people without getting anything back. I believe you have to serve first,” says Dr. Rogers. In serving at the Clinic, he is not only able to decrease patients’ pain but also able to decrease the chances of patients’ becoming dependent upon pain medication, a huge concern in pain management.
Dr. Rogers honors his mother every time he comes to the Clinic; he not only uses his medical skill, but he also offers a genuine grin and words of encouragement to each of his patients. Hats off to Dr. Rogers and all the medical volunteers who put their own interests aside and come to the Clearwater Free Clinic to serve!

 

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The CFC Needs Your Support!

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”    ~Steve Jobs
At the Clearwater Free Clinic, every volunteer and staff member is excited about what happens here each day. We are able to provide uninsured families the medical care and treatment that they can’t afford; we really care about these patients, and we know you do too.

In late June, Gov. Scott used his line-item veto to eliminate a $9.5m appropriation to the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, money which was to be distributed in grants to clinics like ours. As reported in the Tampa Bay Times, that action created “a $100,000 hole in the [Clearwater Free Clinic’s] $950,000 operating budget.” Losing $100,000 was a shock, but it will not stop our work. “Cutting staff is not an option,” executive director Jeannie Shapiro said. “Neither is cutting programs. We’re going to have to find [more] funding.”

The Governor’s veto eliminated funding for some support personnel, medical equipment and prescription drugs, but it did not eliminate the need for the health care that we provides. In fact, since Gov. Scott’s action, 96 new patients have qualified for Clinic services. In order to serve these new and the existing almost 8000 other Clinic patients, staff and volunteers are intensifying efforts to find new grant sources, event sponsors, and generous donors who can increase their giving.This Clearwater Free Clinic sees this shortfall as a challenge we will overcome. Please pitch in and be a part of the solution; help to guarantee that those who need our help will receive it. Click here to make a gift that continues the life-saving work of the Clearwater Free Clinic.

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