The Volunteer Medical Corps was established in 2011.

United Way ends free health clinic initiative

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

Allegan County United Way has decided not to continue its effort to provide free health care to the county’s underinsured and uninsured despite an influx of grant money late last year to sustain the program.

The Volunteer Medical Corps was established in 2011 using a Volunteer Michigan grant to fund two daylong free health clinics set up at Fennville High School.
United Way used a second grant year to fund a one-day free clinic in Wayland. In November 2012, the program began offering free medical services once per month at Allegan’s River Church.
 
In 2013, then-United Way director Mimi Gabriel said she hoped the Corps would expand offerings to the Wayland and Pullman areas using the remainder of the final year of grant money.
 
As the grant ran out late last year, Perrigo Company Charitable Foundation donated more than $275,000 to the City of Allegan and five health organizations as part of a celebration of its 125th anniversary; United Way’s Volunteer Medical Corps won $28,500 to continue the monthly clinics.
 
Gabriel, having returned as interim director after her replacement resigned after three months, advocated at the time for the United Way to devote some of its own funding to supplement the Perrigo grant.
 
However, the United Way Board of Directors voted in April to not continue the Corps. The last free clinic hours were in February after which the effort was put on hold.
 
Current United Way president and CEO Denise Hartsough said, “It was grant-funded for three years and that ended in 2013.
 
“Our board looked at the ramifications of what it had evolved into over three years, and they saw that it was positioning United Way as a provider of health care services, and they didn’t feel it was a good fit.”
 
A spokesman for Perrigo said the company’s charitable foundation had been notified of the action but was still considering what to do about its grant.
 
Hartsough said, “It’s up to Perrigo at this point. Of course we’ll return the grant, if appropriate; or maybe it can be used for another health care-related effort.”
 

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