October 2023

Message from CEO, Desiree Zapinsky, RN

As we enter fall, our staff and volunteers are working tirelessly to provide quality services for our patients by continuing to improve processes and provide enhancements. As healthcare goes beyond treating physical ailments, we have always taken a holistic approach to patient care. To this end, we’ve expanded our supportive services with nutrition classes, diabetes education, as well as relaxation classes including sound bath meditation.

Some of the other exciting additions to our services include pharmacy expansion, offering pediatric dentistry hours on Fridays, and continuing to forge new partnerships within our community, the newest being Make the Road Nevada, whose focus is to build the power of the Latinx and working-class people of color to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, and transformative education.

Finally, we have hired a Philanthropy Director, Lisa Curran, to lead the department! Since her onboarding in July, she has been eager to serve, working closely with leadership and getting to know our supporters. Learn about her incredible experience and background below.

I’m tremendously appreciative of your support and am truly filled with hope that together we’re building a healthier, more vibrant, and compassionate community. Gratefully,



We are thrilled to announce Lisa Curran as our new Philanthropy Director! If Lisa looks familiar, that’s because from 2015-2018 she was our Volunteer Director. Her return to VMSN is a testament to her belief in our mission of providing quality health care and support for people without access in our community.

Lisa brings a wealth of experience in the nonprofit sector, particularly in fundraising and philanthropy. After she left VMSN, she earned her MBA and worked for various nonprofits, including DISCOVERY Children’s Museum and Three Square Food Bank, gaining valuable and relevant experience. When she saw the Philanthropy Director position at VMSN available, she jumped at the opportunity to return. She thought it would be such a good fit. She was right!

Since returning, Lisa observes that “the growth of VMSN and the numerous improvements to our services is evident in everything from the recent database upgrade that now connects medical, dental, and behavioral health services, to the opening of the Dental and Maternity Care Clinics.” Lisa comes to work laser focused, tremendously excited by the potential for how her experience and passion can impact VMSN’s ability to care for more patients. Her passion, background, and positive spirit will undoubtedly contribute to the growth and success of our organization as we continue to serve with care and compassion.

From all of us at VMSN, welcome aboard!

Lisa Curran, Philanthropy Director

Fun Facts about Lisa:

  • First job: After-school and summers spent working at her father’s law office as receptionist, janitor, and runner
  • TV show Likes: From Love is Blind and The Ultimatum, to classics like Parks and Recreation, and The Office
  • Favorite activity: Hiking, coaching and playing baseball, swimming, and playing board games with her husband and 9-year-old son


The Dental Department has begun offering pediatric services on Fridays from 9am-4pm at the Ruffin Clinic. Many of the children, including 17-year old, Jesus, are having their teeth cleaned for the first time. Afterwards, he was all smiles! He even said he was going to tell his friends at school and his soccer team!


Due to increased patient population and demand, a pharmacy expansion is in the works! Currently, we fill approximately 100 prescriptions each day. The expansion will allow for an additional window, more storage, and increased space for students and interns. At the same time, we will be training new pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in our community in a more spacious, updated area. If you are interested in making a donation to support this endeavor, please reach out to Philanthropy Director, Lisa Curran at lcurran@vmsn.org. For interest in volunteering in the pharmacy, reach out to HR & Volunteer Director Danait Fessahaie at DFessahaie@vmsn.org.


HR and Volunteer Manager, Danait Fessahaie, and Volunteer Coordinator, Paula Diaz, have been representing VMSN with their presence in different areas of our community, spreading the word about volunteer opportunities at VMSN!

UNLV Latin Youth Leadership Conference

Nevada Academy of Family Physicians’ 34th Annual Summer Continuing Medical Education Meeting with volunteer, Dr. Maria Teresa Besana Chong.

Grand Opening Celebration of the Tzu Chi Buddhist Temple’s Mobile Eye Clinic


Victor got a complete dental overhaul including advanced cleaning, fillings, crowns, extractions, and partial implants. One of our staff members commented that before treatment, Victor was very quiet, sometimes grumpy, and rarely smiled. The transformation in his oral health brought a new level of confidence and vibrancy to Victor’s overall well-being, and now he is light on his feet and easy to smile.

“This clinic has given me hope, helping me feel more relaxed about my health. People here make me feel secure and are very caring and helpful.”

BEFORE                                           AFTER


Nicole Cabrera-Heiring, APRN, who teaches our regular diabetes education classes has noticed a very positive trend with some of our patients. “Several patients have improved their A1C numbers significantly in a short amount of time. Two have even reversed their diagnosis of pre-diabetes! This is not easy as they’re having to overcome weight gain, tobacco use, and alcohol dependence. These patients are so grateful for the education and encouragement they receive here and are highly motivated to apply proper nutrition along with taking their medications properly and learning how to monitor their numbers.

The clinic has also seen a tremendous improvement with our diabetics decreasing their A1C from 12% to 7%. This decreases patient’s long-term effects from diabetes including heart attack, stroke, chronic kidney disease, nerve damage, and retinal damage. Through prevention of disease progression, we can reduce community and hospital burden and increase quality of life and longevity for our patients.”


Matheu Nazareno, Scribe Extraordinaire

Rarely does one come across a young person who is simultaneously as compassionate, conscientious, highly intelligent, and dedicated as Matheu Nazareno. His fervent desire to serve his community, coupled with his commitment to excellence and unmatched work ethic, make him truly remarkable.

We asked him why he chose to volunteer with VMSN: “I began volunteering at VMSN in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. I wanted to be able to find a way to serve my community at its most critical moment. The mission and impact that VMSN was trying to achieve within our community was something that truly resonated with me.” 

Matheu started at VMSN by triaging patients for COVID, and soon began scribing for Dr. Ati Hakimi. The dynamic duo cared for many of our geriatric patients through the Nevada Interprofessional Healthy Aging Network. Dr. Hakimi says of Matheu, “He is an intelligent, inquisitive, organized, and sociable young man who will be a huge asset to a medical team one day. He has been my rock when it comes to VMSN because he has kept me organized and focused on quality and effective patient care, especially with our seniors.”

One of the projects Matheu is most proud of came about when he and Dr. Hakimi noticed that some were polypharmacy patients, who struggled to manage their medication regimen. They figured out that it was due in part to health disparities such as low health literacy rates and patient-provider language barriers. Together Dr. Hakimi and Matheu developed Spanish translated color-coded medication education cards to assist patients better understand their medication regimen. Matheu says “This was an experience and project I am very proud of, and I am very grateful to be able to work closely with such an incredible physician as Dr. Hakimi. She is someone I dearly look up to!”

Matheu is a senior at UNLV pursuing a BS in Biological Sciences, minoring in Neuroscience. He hopes to one day become a physician and make a positive difference in our healthcare community. He observes that “there is a desperate need for empathetic and compassionate doctors. Thanks to my experience at VMSN, I am motivated and even more passionate every day I get to interact with incredible healthcare professionals and physicians who have the same goal of transforming our healthcare system for the better.”

To learn about how you can volunteer at VMSN, please click here. We would love to have you join us!


Stay tuned for details!

The annual Holiday Party for 2023 will be held on Wednesday, December 6 from 4pm-7pm. Volunteers, donors, and community partners are invited to come celebrate the holidays together at our Ruffin Family Clinic located at 1240 N. MLK Blvd.

For more information on VMSN, visit our website at vmsn.org. Questions? Feel free to drop our team a line at lfrantz@vmsn.org.


Current clinic needs for your consideration! 
  • $10,000 –A second refrigerator to store adequate quantities of diabetes medications
  • $8,000 –Integrated security system for the Paradise Park Clinic
  • $1,550 –Shipping cost for Direct Relief to make shipment of in-kind donations

Kendra Scott Gives Back Event benefitting VMSN – In-store Saturday, December 9 from 3mp-5pm and online December 9-10 using code GIVEBACK-EXJLR

If you would like to donate to further our cause of providing quality health care within a culture of compassionate caring, please consider a donation here.

If you are considering a major gift or wish to tour the clinic, please feel free to reach out to Philanthropy Director, Lisa Curran, at 702-912-4827 or email lcurran@vmsn.org.