Access to health care remains a challenge for many hardworking Americans. In Central Oregon, the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades has provided a solution for many years. The Bend, Oregon clinic relies on dedicated volunteers and partners to serve uninsured, low-income adults in the region.
Behind this effort is Executive Director Kat Mastrangelo, recently honored with a national Circle of Caring Award. The award comes from the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC), recognizing Mastrangelo’s accomplishments and commitment, and it was presented at the NAFC 2023 Symposium in October by Nicole Lamoureux, President and CEO of NAFC.
The Volunteers in Medicine model was founded in 1994 by Dr. Jack McConnell, who started the first free clinic. His name graces the award as an innovator improving health access. There are now over 90 Volunteers in Medicine clinics across the country. In 2021, the Volunteers in Medicine clinic development program moved to the NAFC after the national organization Volunteers in Medicine America closed.
Mastrangelo has led the Central Oregon clinic since 2008. In that time, the small staff has leveraged an army of over 200 volunteers and 300 medical partners. Together they provide free primary and specialty care, medications, and mental health services. The NAFC notes this clinic’s efforts have generated over $146 million in donated care for uninsured patients.
The clinic serves hardworking community members like construction workers, small business owners, hospitality staff, and artists. Patients must be over 19, uninsured, and low income. Many manage chronic illnesses like diabetes or high blood pressure. The clinic is funded through $120 patient donations and community support.
Mastrangelo started as a volunteer scheduler 15 years ago and became executive director four years later. She came to appreciate the clinic’s essential role and profound impact on patients and volunteers alike. This grassroots effort embodies the NAFC’s vision of quality healthcare access for all. Mastrangelo’s leadership has made Central Oregon a healthier community.
Watch this video to learn more about NAFC and its role in health care in the United States: