Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic

The Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic, which offers no-cost primary and semi-urgent medical services and prescription medication to under-insured Charlotte County residents.

Charlotte County commissioners want to give $100,000 of the county’s federal pandemic funding to the Virginia B. Andes Clinic.

“If there’s one group that’s unique in this county it’s the Virginia Andes Clinic, and if there’s one thing that they’re doing during this pandemic, it’s helping to offload healthcare from the main system so that the hospitals, as they become overburdened, are less overburdened,” said Commissioner Christopher Constance, a physician and surgeon.

Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to give the money to the free clinic that operates with volunteer services of nurses, doctors and specialists from the community. The money is aimed at filling funding gaps through the end of the year.

Budget Director Gordon Burger said staff members are still consulting with a law firm to ensure they are allowed to use the $32.9 million in federal pandemic funds for something like the clinic.

“Certainly they have had issues with funding because their donations aren’t coming in,” Constance said. “They’ve had issues with getting their volunteer labor to come in so they’ve had to spend more on employees. Overall, the revenues are down and the expenses are the same or up.”

Medical Director Dr. David Klein told the Sun that the patient load has increased since the coronavirus pandemic began earlier in the year. At the same time, some of the medical staff who are over 60, have been advised to stop volunteering to avoid exposure to the virus that has disproportionately afflicted older people. As a result, the Port Charlotte clinic has hired others to fill the gap.

“The clinic really works because we have so many from nurses to doctors to specialists that volunteer their time,” Commissioner Stephen R. Deutsch said. “It provides an incredible meaningful and positive service for the county. It’s so important that we support any way that we possibly can. They do an incredible job.”

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