Apirl 2024

A Message from Our CEO,
Desiree Zapinsky, RN

Dear VMSN Family,

Spring is here and we are full of excitement and optimism as we continue toward our vision of ensuring every man, woman, and child in Southern Nevada has access to health care. We have some important developments I’m thrilled to share with you.

Partnership with Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV

I’m delighted to announce our latest collaboration with the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV on the opening of the UNLV Community Clinic at VMSN Ruffin Family Clinic. This partnership represents our continued efforts to create a culture of compassionate care ensuring the well-being of the diverse and underserved population in our community. This unique partnership gives medical students opportunities to experience first-hand how a community healthcare clinic operates while offering extended evening hours.

Continued Success of Our Maternity Care Clinic

Our commitment to supporting expectant mothers in our community remains strong. The Maternity Care Clinic continues to thrive, providing essential prenatal care to over fifty patients. This vital service ensures they receive the care and support needed to navigate pregnancy with confidence and peace of mind. Our dedicated team of providers feel honored to be part of this significant chapter in the lives of many of our young families.

Increasing Volunteer Numbers for Summer

Summer is a time when many students take a well-deserved break from the arduous demands of their education. It’s also a time when we see our volunteer numbers dip. As volunteers are the lifeblood of our clinic, we are eager to bolster our numbers in anticipation of sustaining our robust operations. So, we’d like to ask for your help in making sure we have enough volunteers this summer. I invite you to spread the word or consider joining us as volunteers.

Your support and kindness empower us all. Together we are making a lasting impact on the health and well-being of individuals and families throughout our community. For this I am deeply grateful to each member of our remarkable VMSN community!

Warm regards,

Staff Spotlight:

George Ibrahim, DDS
Dental Director

We are so fortunate to have the ever popular and highly capable Dr. George Ibrahim as Dental Director at VMSN. He started out with VMSN as a part-time dentist when we reopened the dental clinic in 2022 and quickly moved into a leadership role in 2023. Let’s take a moment to get to know Dr. Ibrahim.

Where were you before you landed at VMSN? I completed my first dental degree back in my home country Egypt in 2013. After practicing dentistry for six years there, I pursued an advanced degree at UNLV International Doctorate program from which I graduated in 2021.

What are your impressions of VMSN? Just the dedication of ensuring every man, woman and child in Southern Nevada has access to health care made a tremendous impression on me. We constantly strive to provide quality health care and support for people within a culture of compassionate care. I honestly believe that at VMSN, we change lives, and turn pain into smiles.

What are your goals for your patients? I would love to see patients returning after our treatment with better oral hygiene, less gum disease, and well-maintained teeth. This will reflect how we, as a dental team, change patients’ lifestyles and appreciation and care for their own health and oral hygiene. I hope we can go through our referral list and treat every single patient. I look forward to expanding the department to provide multidisciplinary care by recruiting specialists like orthodontists, endodontists, and periodontists who share the same vision.

What are your biggest challenges right now? We are in constant need of dental personnel. The more volunteer dentists, dental assistants, and hygienists we have the more patients we can see and treat. As of now, we have over 700 patients waiting to be seen.

What do you like to do to decompress from work? I play the guitar and piano, so I like to compose music. I also love playing sports, usually tennis and pickle ball with my wife every weekend.

What is something about you that people would be surprised to know? People are surprised to learn that I have so much experience because of how young I look!

Check out Diana Serrano’s patient story below to learn about the impact Dr. Ibrahim made on her.


UNLV Community Clinic
The exciting opening ceremony for the UNLV Community Clinic was held at the Ruffin Family Clinic on February 26 with featured speakers Councilman Cedric Crear, Dr. Elissa Palmer, Professor and Chair, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Assistant Dean Continuing Medical Education, Professor Gard Jameson, and Dr. Alison Netski, Vice Dean of Clinical Affairs. The collaboration with the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine and VMSN brings together the expertise of faculty physicians, staff, residents, and medical students volunteering, and offer extended hours for our patients on Tuesdays, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Left to right: Professor Gard Jameson, Dr. Elissa Palmer, Councilman Cedric Crear, Desiree Zapinsky, Dr. Alison Netski, and Alexandra Shahady-Dupree.

Engelstad Scholars Leadership Luncheon
The Engelstad Foundation sponsors the Engelstad Scholars program in which VMSN hosts 6 students a semester as they complete 50 hours of community service. The Luncheon served as an opportunity to engage with our scholars and connect with other community partners. There were 12 small groups present and a total of about 100 people present. The Engelstad Scholar Community is large and very involved, and we are excited to have them contributing their service hours at VMSN.

From left to right: Hein “Maia” Tran, Danait Fessahaie, Lorena Garcia Gutierrez, Lucero Cuevas Fernandez, Anthony Solis-Delpilar, and Paula Diaz.

Interfaith Contemplative Center
The Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada has opened its Contemplative Center for Spirituality and Health at Paradise Park Clinic. The Center’s mission is to increase awareness of how contemplative spirituality plays in coping with chronic illness, anxiety, and stress. It is open for regular offerings of practices such as meditation, labyrinth walks, sound bath, yoga and more! For a schedule of upcoming classes, head on over to Interfaith contemplative center | Interfaith Council (interfaithsn.org) or contact Julia Pizzi at Julia@interfaithsn.org.


Originally from Mexico, Diana Serrano and her husband had recently moved to Las Vegas to live with their son, a single father with four children. Life in Las Vegas was proving to be difficult with the demands of a stressful job, excruciating pain from hemorrhoids that would not heal, and caring for her husband and grandchildren. Then suddenly she was faced with the loss of her husband, followed by a frightening incident in which she fainted while showering.

At the time, Diana could not know that through her granddaughter’s school, she would find answers to her illness and healing in the compassionate care of Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada (VMSN). Her tale is one of resilience, survival, and the profound impact of community healthcare.

The first physician she encountered at VMSN was Dr. Edgeworth who recognized the severity of her condition and urged her to seek immediate hospitalization. However, Diana’s reluctance delayed this critical step. On subsequent visits, the medical team reiterated the urgency of her situation until she finally admitted herself to the hospital. That decision proved to be lifesaving as Diana spent a week receiving vital treatment, owing her very life to VMSN. Following hospitalization, VMSN provided her with ongoing care which included medications for anemia, diabetes, and depression, essential pieces of her treatment plan.

Right around this time, she began to address another aspect of her health that had long been neglected, her oral health. With missing front teeth and painful gums, Diana struggled to eat solid foods, a challenge that significantly impacted her quality of life. However, thanks to the dedication of the dental team led by Dr. George Ibrahim, she received desperately needed dental treatment including dentures. She is no longer afraid to choke on her food which gives her reason to flash her infectious smile.

The kindness and thoroughness exhibited by everyone at VMSN has given Diana a newfound lease on life. With her health restored, she has redirected her focus towards nurturing her family, particularly her son and four teenage grandchildren. But someday, she dreams of indulging in creative pursuits like candle-making and painting which she’s always wanted to take up. Diana extends her heartfelt gratitude to everyone at VMSN, sending countless blessings and fervent prayers for VMSN to continue offering health and hope through compassionate community care.

Volunteer Spotlight:

Billy Leonardo
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Billy Leonardo embodies the very culture of compassionate caring that is at the heart of VMSN. Our commitment to provide free, quality medical care to low-income members of our community who have no health insurance or access is what motivated Billy to volunteer as a Nurse Practitioner Psychiatry. Since 2022, Billy has been a vital part of our Social Behavioral Intervention Health Services (SBIHS) team, bringing his expertise to the forefront of our efforts. We asked Lariza Soto, Director of SBIHS, about Billy and his work. Soto says, “Billy is like a ray of light, radiating a warm aura. You feel this through his smile which is so comforting. He consistently demonstrates patience, understanding, and empathy.”

Asked how he would describe the Social and Behavioral Intervention Health Services team, he says “the staff are so accommodating, professional, and helpful, and very supportive, making it a truly rewarding experience.” It’s this camaraderie and teamwork that allow our volunteers to thrive and make a difference in the lives of our patients.

Billy sheds light on the challenges VMSN patients face, many of whom carry heavy burdens of past traumas, requiring extensive therapy and support. Limited opportunities exacerbate their struggles, making the journey to wellness an uphill battle. He speaks of one of his patients in her 70s, struggling to obtain employment and getting her basic needs met. “She walks for miles to try to get a job. Her income barely pays for her rent. Her landlord restricts her from using the AC during summertime in Vegas due to the cost. She has no support in Vegas. She is on antidepressant med due to her current situation which alleviates some of her mood but doesn’t change her situation.” Despite these obstacles, Billy approaches each patient with empathy, compassion, and understanding, providing them with the care and attention they deserve.

Billy’s commitment to serving our community as well as his dedication to improving the lives of others exemplify the spirit of volunteerism that defines VMSN. His presence not only enhances our medical services but also enriches the lives of those he encounters. We are so grateful for Billy’s services and commend him for his invaluable contributions to our mission.

Fun Fact about Billy: He was a math tutor at Honolulu Community College.

Visit our website to learn about how you can become a volunteer at VMSN,
reach out to Paula Diaz, Volunteer Manager, at Pdiaz@vmsn.org.
We would love to have you join us!


We welcome the following staff and volunteer providers:

  • Alexandra (Alex) Shahady-Dupree, Philanthropy Director, started with us in February
  • Gerald Earl DDS/DMD, formerly retired dentist who started volunteering with us in February
  • Dave Reddy MD, currently practicing Ophthalmologist who is working with us on bringing eye care for our patients

Help us provide quality health care within a culture of compassionate caring.
Please consider donating here.

We would also love to give you a tour of the Ruffin Family Clinic, the main clinic on
Martin Luther King Way. Contact Alex Shahady-Dupree, Philanthropy Director to
schedule one today at AShahady-Dupree@vmsn.org, or call 702-912-4827!