Thursday, April 8, 2010 | 1:59 p.m.
Lifelong philanthropists in the local community, Gard and Dr. Florence Jameson have always aspired to create a free clinic for adults who lack access to health care, including the working uninsured. In January, their vision came to fruition when they founded Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada, which opened its first facility in Paradise Park.
An affiliate of Hilton Head, S.C.-based Volunteers in Medicine, the local 5,000-square-foot clinic – with space leased from the county for $1 a year – has three paid staff members as well as an impressive roster of more than 500 volunteers, including physicians, nurses and pharmacists.
Currently open three days a week, the clinic offers preventative medical health care, although a second 12,000-square-foot flagship downtown location that is in the works will likely offer dental and mental health services as well.
“Right now we’re building the airplane as we fly,” said Gard Jameson, a CPA and former partner and director of financial planning at accounting and business advisory firm Piercy Bowler Taylor & Kerns. Currently on the board of numerous charitable boards, and a founding member of the Nevada Community Foundation, Gard Jameson holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as a Ph.D. in religious studies, and an MBA in accounting, and has been a philosophy instructor at UNLV since 1998.
His wife Florence Jameson – a practicing OB/GYN who is both a diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology and a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology – has an equally impressive background, serving on the boards of the Clark County Medical Society and the Nevada State Medical Association. She spearheaded a drive to increase volunteerism and philanthropy among physicians, which resulted in the first free clinic for girls at Clark County Juvenile Justice, who, as teenage prisoners, had no access to medical care. It was this project that helped to precipitate the creation of Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada.
Medical services are free, although there are eligibility requirements, including Nevada residency and meeting specified federal poverty guidelines. In addition, patients only qualify if they or a member of their immediate family has received unemployment benefits, disability payments or worker’s compensation benefits during the six months preceding treatment.
“Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada was established by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to find a way to provide access to health care to Southern Nevada’s working families,” Florence Jameson said in VMSN founder’s message. “At VMSN, we will provide prevention and care for the chronically ill. We will help prevent acute hospitalization, reduce hospital costs and decrease taxpayer burdens. Most importantly, we will care for the neglected and unseen members of our community who are hurting.”
Gard Jameson said community response to the Paradise Park clinic has been overwhelmingly supportive, and VMSN hopes to open a location in Henderson by 2015.
“We’d like to be able to declare universal access to health care in Southern Nevada by 2015,” he said, adding that Northern Nevada is also eyeing the model.
“Our vision says, ‘May we have healing hands to touch underserved lives with love, and in the process, heal ourselves,’ and it’s what guides our behavior here – a culture of caring with goodwill and happy spirits as we reach out.” L