Yohara feels the culture of caring at Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada. Since 2019, she has been coming to the VMSN clinic where she originally required follow up care for a procedure that had been done incorrectly in her home country of Mexico. After feeling pain and discomfort, she knew she had to be seen by a medical professional to address the issues. She was nervous, didn’t have health insurance, and didn’t know where to turn. 

Through the advice of a friend, she learned about VMSN clinics and resources. She and her family signed up as patients, and she was scheduled to see VMSN volunteer Dr. Ben Reiter and Ms. Cookie Bible, RN. “Cookie treated me and all of her patients with kindness, respect, and sincerity,” recalls Yohara. “She always told me that she was ‘in this with me’, and that we would get through it together. Her strength gave me strength, and I will always be grateful.”

Unfortunately, Cookie passed away recently. Yohara says “Cookie was like a tree. She planted her roots and I feel her presence whenever I’m at VMSN. I will never forget her kindness and compassion.” Since Cookie’s passing, Yohara sees volunteer Dr. Pitterman for her follow-up care. She says that he is also the best, and that he is entirely focused on her healthcare, even checking her feet when she comes in for her doctor’s visits.

Additionally, Yohara participates in VMSN’s Ask a Pharmacist program led by Dr. Nguyen. Because of that program and the thoroughness of Dr. Nguyen, Yohara now has control of her diabetes and is on a plan to lose weight to improve her health. “Not only does Dr. Nguyen care about my physical well-being, but she also cares about me as a person,” says Yohara. Through their visits, Dr. Nguyen learned about Yohara’s wonderful daughter who is 12 and is very skilled in Mariachi. Dr. Nguyen is always sure to ask about how she is doing and about her performances.

It is clear from her experience that VMSN cares about its patients as a whole person, and not just a number or diagnosis. Yohara will always be grateful to Cookie, Dr. Nguyen, Dr. Pitterman and everyone at VMSN. “I don’t know what I would have done without this resource. My life and my family’s lives are changed for the better because I have my health, thanks to VMSN.”

For over thirty years, Maria and Paulino have been a team.  Maria has a bright spirit and radiant smile that matches her multicolored, eye-catching jewelry. Paulino, her husband, is soft-spoken and projects kindness and quiet strength.  He is dressed impeccably, wearing a well-fitted button-down shirt, a gold watch, and a gold ring bearing a large “L”, a proud symbol of his namesake, middle name of Luis. 

They have both dedicated their working years to serving others as clergy for the Salvation Army. Their vocation has taken them to places like Costa Rica and Panama, where Paulino had served as the Director of Church Leaders, guiding and inspiring fellow clergy members.  Paulino often shares stories about their time as missionaries, tales of their encounters with the indigenous locals. He chuckles as he recalls an unforgettable experience of watching locals eat monkeys, and then realizing he too had to eat them so as not to offend.  It was a testament to their extraordinary commitment to the inclusivity of radical cultural differences they had encountered on their travels.

Maria and Paulino call VMSN their “second home” due to experiencing compassionate care each time they come into the clinic, and never more so than last month when Maria suffered a major heart attack that hospitalized her for a week.  Fortunately, VMSN is monitoring her recovery with follow-up care including free medication to manage her condition. She says that everyone at VMSN including the cardiologist, medical staff, and support staff have been so kind, helpful, and supportive. 

With their two children grown and independent, the couple can now dedicate their time and energy to managing their own health, church activities, and prayer. They are also so grateful for this community, leading them to pray for the well-being of VMSN, its volunteers, and staff each day.  Maria and Paulino truly believed that VMSN was a beacon of hope, warmth, and compassion. They admire the organization’s ability to support individuals like themselves, nurturing hearts filled with love and kindness, and enabling them to go out and share their unwavering warmth with others in the community.

Ana arrived in Las Vegas nine years ago after deciding to leave her country and family to build a better life for herself and her two boys. While she misses the lushness of El Salvador and its coastal gifts, she continues to work toward providing opportunities for her children. Her son, Alvin, who arrived three years after she did, now sits next to her, interpreting as she shares her remarkable journey of love and resilience.

Back in El Salvador, Ana had been a skilled baker, known for her delicious baked goods that she sold throughout the community. Here in Vegas, she found work at a printing company. Her wages are not enough to afford health care and for the first eight years of being in Las Vegas, Ana did not have health insurance. It was only recently through Alvin’s scholarship counselor at the College of Southern Nevada that she learned about VMSN.  Both she and Alvin have been VMSN patients since October of 2022. 

Ana’s younger son, 14-year old remains back home. About a year ago, she received terrifying news that he suddenly became paralyzed from the waist down, requiring emergency surgery. Ana had tremendous fear and anxiety, anguished over not being able to be by his side. She shares a picture of him lying face-down on a hospital bed, his spine stapled up after the surgery. By “the grace of God,” she says, her son made a miraculous recovery, a testament to the indomitable spirit that must run in their family. While Ana still has work to do to be able to invite her youngest to Las Vegas, she feels a renewed sense of hope and purpose, as she proudly shares that he is now back to playing soccer, and Alvin is in college, studying to be a teacher.

In the meantime, she is relieved to have quality health care and is also tremendously appreciative of VMSN staff in Eligibility, Dental, Medical, Social Behavioral and Integrated Services, and most recently, the Maternity Care Clinic, as Ana is expecting a child! She’s particularly relieved to have care as her pregnancy is considered high-risk due to her age.   

Ana’s journey, one of resilience and unwavering love for her family, is sure to continue. We at VMSN are privileged to witness and support this determined mother fighting to provide a better future for her children, the youngest of whom we cannot wait to welcome into this world!

You are not alone; Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada (VMSN)understands the importance of mental health and how it impacts your well-being. In 2015, VMSN launched the Social and Behavioral HealthIntervention Services (SBHIS) department to improve our patients’ overall health & wellness. Our behavioral health team provides individual and group therapy to assist patients in effectively navigating mental health issues and develop positive coping tools. Services are offered by phone, telehealth, or in person to best meet the patients’ needs.

We want to introduce you to Jessica, who has been a patient since 2020.Jessica first came to VMSN to help a loved one with their eligibility paperwork. While at eligibility Jessica found out that she was also able to become a patient. Jessica was thrilled as this would be her first doctor’s appointment in years. During her first appointment, Jessica was overwhelmed by the kindness and care she received, “I felt that I was being listened to and that the doctors took me seriously.” For many yearsJessica was feeling overwhelmed mentally and felt extremely anxious at times. She mentioned this to her doctor and was able to schedule an appointment with the SBHIS department after meeting with the SocialWork Program Manager who assessed her needs and connected her with one of our therapists.

Jessica worked with Shazad Contractor, MFCT, board member & volunteer therapist. Jessica said, “with therapy, I was able to realize my worth as a person.” She became aware of her emotions and understood the root cause of her emotions, especially anger. Jessica said, “I am in a much better place mentally and emotionally because of the overall care I received at VMSN.”

No one should feel alone or without the help and support, they need. With the SBHIS department, VMSN can provide integrated health care and treat the whole person, which VMSN takes seriously. VMSN can do this because of YOU and your continuous support of our mission. We are grateful for you and our patients, like Jessica, who shine a light on the importance of caring for your mental health-remember YOU are not alone.

Contreras was not feeling like herself, and her vision was becoming increasingly more blurry. She contributed this to being tired and working too much. As the weeks went on, Contreras was not feeling any better. A close friend took her to Quick Care, where they recommended further medical testing. Due to a lack of health insurance, Contreras could not afford to have the tests done. The nurse at Quick Care shared information about Volunteers inMedicine of Southern Nevada (VMSN), telling her about some of the resources available through VMSN for individuals without insurance who need care, and encouraged her to call.

Shortly thereafter, Contreras became a VMSN patient. She was eager to understand what was causing her vision issues and was relieved to get in to see a doctor so quickly. VMSN’s doctor ordered the appropriate tests in partnership with CPL (Clinical Pathology Laboratories) diagnosed Contreras with type II diabetes which explained her blurred vision. VMSN referred her to Lions Sight First Foundation, another great community partner, and Contreras received a free eye exam and glasses.

In addition, it was recommended Contreras participate in VMSN’s Su Buena Salud program, a case management program for poorly controlled type II diabetic patients. As part of the program in partnership with Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican patients attend a diabetes self-management educational group food and nutrition classes through the University of Nevada Corporate Extension. Through her participation in these diabetes classes as well as participating in Ask a Pharmacist, a prescription medication reconciliation appointment through Roseman University School of Pharmacy, Contreras learned the importance of eating a healthy diet, testing and monitoring her blood sugar, and exercising to help her better manage to live with her newly diagnosed diabetes.

Contreras could not have been more thankful for the listening ear, guidance, and techniques shared through her one-on-one therapy sessions with Dr. Claudia Mejia, VMSN’s Social and Behavioral Health Intervention Services Director. Contreras did not realize her mental health could be affected by her diagnosis of diabetes because changing her lifestyle has been challenging; however, having professional guidance has been priceless.

What Contreras hoped for in becoming a patient at VMSN was the hope of clearer vision for her eyes. Little did she know, VMSN would help her create a clearer vision for her life. Through the gift of compassionate care, VMSN’s community partners, clinic staff, and hundreds of volunteers, Contreras has learned to take her life back and is practicing whole-body wellness, mind, body, and spirit.

This is only possible because of supporters like YOU. VMSN provides patients with the often lifesaving, integrated care they desperately need and all within a culture of compassionate caring, and for that, we thank you!

Ana had been living with severe skin irritation for over two years. What once started as small bumps on her knees, which would not go away, began to grow worse and spread dramatically. Having only the resources to purchase over-the-counter medications, Ana garnered only slight relief, easing her irritation and discomfort. Then, Ana noticed the bumps started growing into a rash down her legs.

Unable to afford health insurance, Ana confided in a handful of friends at church about her skin condition. Concerned, her friends and other church members raised enough money for Ana to pay cash for a visit to a local doctor. At that appointment, Ana was diagnosed with psoriasis. Unfortunately, Ana could not continue her medical treatment due to cost and not having health insurance. As a result of not being able to access care, her psoriasis continued to get worse. It was starting to spread even further, covering more and more of her body.

Embarrassed and feeling self-conscious, Ana started to isolate herself from her friends. Then, an acquaintance from church finally shared with Ana information about Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada (VMSN). After years of suffering from her psoriasis, Ana felt a huge sense of relief when she was approved to become a patient of VMSN, knowing soon she would have the care she desperately needed.

Eager to see the doctor, just a few days before her first appointment with Dr. Purdy, VMSN’s Medical Director, Ana had to make the difficult decision to cancel her appointment, fearful of contracting or spreading the COVID-19 virus. Unfortunately, our community had just gone into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, due to the support of donors and a grant through CVS and the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, VMSN was able to launch a telehealth program allowing patients like Ana to connect with their VMSN medical providers to get medical attention needed.

Shortly after the launch of the telehealth program, VMSN contacted Ana and invited her to attend her first VMSN appointment virtually. Dr. Purdy, via video, spent the appointment time just as she does with all first-time VMSN patients, taking a complete medical history, talking with, and listening to Ana and her struggle to get her psoriasis under control. Dr. Purdy, concerned about the severity, immediately referred her to our community partner Thomas Dermatology. Dr. Michaels helped Ana regain control of her psoriasis. Also, while in her appointment with Dr. Purdy, Ana shared her embarrassment and how she noticed she had been withdrawing. Ana was amazed to hear the clinic had a team to help address the feelings Ana had been experiencing and other stressors impacting her life and family due to the COVID pandemic. Shortly after that, Ana received a phone call to set up an appointment with the VMSN Social and Behavioral Health Intervention Services (SBHIS) to help her address any behavioral health issues she has, or the resource needs she was facing pandemic. “VMSN provides care to all patients as its highest priority, and without them, I don’t know what I would do.” Ana now has her psoriasis under control, her self-confidence is back, and she feels less stress knowing if she needs care, she has a place to go.

He needed to live for his family…

Marcos knew he was facing a difficult uphill battle. For over 10 years, Marcos was seen by countless doctors and endured hospital visits he could not afford. Under the duress of severe medical conditions, Marcos’ heart stopped three times and during that hospitalization was advised he had “no more than a day to live”. 

Facing his diagnosis of diabetes, high blood pressure and renal failure, Marcos’ health continued to decline. With debilitating medical issues and a pacemaker, Marco’s ability to pay for treatments and medication became grossly strained. 

Fighting feelings of hopelessness, Marcos drew from his greatest motivation; his son diagnosed with autism. Marcos wanted and needed to live for his son and family.

Thankfully, a family friend told Marcos about Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada (VMSN) and brought him to his first clinic appointment.  Marcos shares, “My life changed the moment I walked through VMSN’s doors.” 

Within five years of becoming a patient, Marcos experienced a remarkable change in his health and family life; taking advantage of the variety of compassionate services provided by VMSN. Not only did he attend is primary care and cardiology visits with his physicians, he received free prescriptions through VMSN’s onsite Pharmacy and Marcos enrolled in the Diabetes Program. This program provided Marcos one on one case management through VMSN’s Social and Behavioral Health Intervention Services Department. Working closely with his Case Manager and the Clinical Pharmacist in the Ask a Pharmacist program, Marcos learned healthy lifestyle skills empowering him to manage his diabetes resulting in improved overall health. Dr. Naomi Purdy, Medical Director for VMSN, reported Marcos is “extremely fortunate”. Marcos now reports, “My health no longer controls me; I’m now in control.”

The financial hardship Marcos and his family faced, extremely high emergency room costs and prescriptions, prior to becoming a patient at VMSN have faded. Allowing them to allocate their resources to better sustain a healthy lifestyle.