That rate could increase this year because of the growth in local unemployment due to the coronavirus. According to the Congressional Budget Office,
58% of insured Americans received their insurance through their employer last year.
Oakwood Church established Volunteers in Medicine, or VIM, in 2008 as part of New Braunfels Christian Ministries to meet the medical needs of local adults that lack health care coverage.
“We are really serving an unmet need here in New Braunfels and Comal County,” New Braunfels Christian Ministries Executive Director Brett Mosher said.
VIM operates as a primary care clinic and focuses on preventative treatment and on-going care with six staff members and 26 volunteer medical providers and dentists.
Patients are treated for conditions that could lead to worse health issues if not managed properly, such as diabetes and hypertension.
“It’s meeting a critical need for each individual, but it’s also meeting a larger community need because... your health affects my health and my health affects your health and that affects the community’s health,” Mosher said. “The community also ends up carrying some of the cost when folks go without care.”
Since 2008, the clinic has expanded its dental services, hired a dental hygienist and renovated its building to include two additional exam rooms.
VIM served 750 local patients in 2019 and was supported by donations from the McKenna Foundation in New Braunfels and other regional organizations, businesses, and individual donors.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the clinic has continued to serve patients through telemedicine and limited in-person visits by appointment only.
“The needs are still there, we just have to meet them in a dierent way,” Mosher said. “We have to adapt, we have to be creative, we have to think outside the box and figure out how to meet people’s physical needs, emotional needs, relational needs and spiritual needs.”
According to Mosher, the staff at VIM call patients regularly to discuss their medical needs, but also to offer mental health support and prayer.
“Yes, we’re providing excellent quality of medical care, yes we’re providing excellent dental care, but we’re also providing hope,” Mosher said.