Commemorating 25 Years of Increasing Access to Care for Uninsured and Underinsured People in Vermont
Dear Friends –
As it marks its 25th year of service to the people of Vermont, the organization historically known as the Vermont Coalition of Clinics for the Uninsured (VCCU) has adopted a new name that better reflects the full sweep of its services to people in need.
We’re pleased to introduce you to the newly named Vermont’s Free & Referral Clinics (VFRC).
Now a quarter of a century old, VFRC is a (501)(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is “to support member free clinics in Vermont that identify gaps and provide access to care, via on-site or by referral services, to uninsured and underinsured people.”
The roots of VFRC can be found in the early 1990s, when free health and dental clinics sprouted in multiple locations throughout the Green Mountain State – from Rutland to White River Junction and Middlebury to Barre to Burlington. In 1995, five clinics – encouraged by funding from the Vermont Community Foundation and the Haymarket Fund – came together as the Vermont Coalition of Clinics for the Uninsured. Their purpose: to facilitate free clinic collaboration and planning statewide. Their first step: sharing common data collection software among the member clinics, facilitating better collection of information on patient demographics and free clinic services throughout Vermont.
Incorporated as a non-profit organization, the fledgling coalition of Vermont free clinics named a part-time coordinator and evolved into a critical collaborator in the delivery of healthcare services to underserved people in Vermont. In 1999, Vermont legislators awarded $300,000 to VFRC (then VCCU) to support case management in the free clinic network – the first of 20 consecutive years of vital state funding for the essential work of our member clinics. Federal Medicaid matching funds have also been used over the past decade. The total support for VFRC’s work grew to $640,000 annually in 2006 and reached $1,028,000 in funding for fiscal years 2019 and 2020.
We’re deeply appreciative of our legislators, regulators, and healthcare administrators who continue to show support for the critical services VFRC’s member clinics provide to uninsured and underinsured people. Support from the state – as well as from grant makers, donors, and many hundreds of volunteers – enables our clinics to serve an ever-increasing number of Vermonters. In 2019, we assisted 8,447 people, which represented a 7% increase over the previous year and a 46% increase since 2010. In 2019, our clinics provided 5,763 medical and dental visits and 20,000 patient visits for other services, including referrals, access to free medication, and assistance enrolling in Medicaid or other health insurance.
The following stories from our nine member clinics shed a deeply human light on the diverse services we provide, putting the faces of our friends and neighbors to the hard data shared above. We are grateful for the ongoing support of our many partners and we look forward to continuing to share the compelling stories of VFRC’s successes in the years ahead.
Heidi Sulis, MPH
Chair, VFRC Board of Directors
VFRC Executive Director