Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 | 2 a.m.
When she’s not delivering babies at her private practice, Dr. Florence Jameson can usually be found roaming the halls of an old park building near Tropicana and Eastern avenues.
Since 2010, the county-owned building has been home to a free clinic that provides primary care, immunizations, basic diagnostic tests and medication to uninsured Las Vegans who don’t qualify for Medicaid.
The clinic is run by the nonprofit Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada and is staffed by a team of volunteer doctors, nurses and office workers.
Jameson, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Las Vegas for more than 20 years who helped found the clinic and serves as its CEO, is normally an ebullient ball of energy, quick to give out hugs and enthusiastically thank any of the hundreds of volunteers who make the clinic run. But when the conversation turns to the plight of Las Vegas’s uninsured, her voice takes on a deadly serious tone.
“It’s shameful. It’s embarrassing that in a city as great as Las Vegas that this is how we take care of people who have fallen on hard times,” Jameson said of the estimated 300,000 plus people without health insurance in Clark County. “Access to health care is a problem, and the community needs to own it. It’s too big of a problem for the federal and local governments to take care of alone.”
Tucked in an unassuming one-story building in a residential neighborhood, VMSN’s Paradise Park Clinic covers about 5,000 square feet and includes five examination rooms, two procedure rooms, a pharmacy and office space.
The clinic averages 500 patient visitors per month, but the space is already nearing capacity, prompting plans for a new, larger clinic in downtown Las Vegas at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Madison Avenue, one of the areas in Las Vegas where residents have the least access to health care.
“It’s literally the size. This is a tiny facility,” Dr. Rebecca Edgeworth, VMSN’s medical director, said of the Paradise Park Clinic. “On certain days, we have three practitioners working two rooms apiece. It’s really busy. We’ll be able to see a lot more patients and provide a lot more and different care downtown.”
The new 12,000-square-foot building would allow the clinic to add dental, vision and mental illness services to its offerings and serve five times as many patients as it does at the Paradise Park location. Designs for the building already have been made, but finding the $3 million needed to bring the vision to fruition has been a challenge.
So far, VMSN has raised about $500,000 of its $3 million goal, plus a private donor gifted the 1.36 acres that will house the clinic to the organization. Another anonymous donor has pledged to match up to $500,000 in donations made to the clinic through Dec. 31.
To learn more about supporting Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada’s efforts to build a new clinic downtown, visit its website or call 702-967-0530, ext. 215.
About the Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada Paradise Park Clinic
- • Located at 4770 Harrison Drive, Suite 105
- • Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on Tuesdays, when it is open until 8 p.m.
- • The clinic serves about 6,000 patient visits per year.
- • A pool of 750 volunteers staff the clinic, including more than 50 doctors, 160 nurses, 25 medical assistants and 400 nonmedical support staff.
- • A total of 62,000 hours and $1.6 million in in-kind services have been donated to the clinic since it opened in 2010.
- • About $1.7 million worth of pharmaceuticals will be provided free of charge to patients this year at the clinic.
- • Eligible patients must not have private health insurance or qualify for Medicaid, Medicare or a Clark County Social Services medical card. Patients must be legal U.S. residents who have resided in Clark County for at least three months, and household income may not exceed 200 percent of the 2012 federal poverty level.