Twenty-one volunteer drivers - 1,000 free rides. This milestone is a cause for celebration at Volunteers In Medicine Berkshires (VIM) in Great Barrington. The announcement will be made during a tea to honor all of VIM’s volunteers today (May 17).

Since July 2017, 21 volunteer drivers have driven thousands of miles and have donated countless hours to make sure VIM Berkshires patients got the health care they needed.

Patients are driven to VIM from distant hometowns like Williamstown, Sharon, CT and Old Chatham, NY. They are taken to hospitals in Springfield and Boston. Every day, patients are transported mostly from Sheffield, Pittsfield, and Lee, to and from appointments at VIM and to hospitals for laboratory tests, surgeries and cancer treatments.

The free rides contribute to positive health outcomes. “Our patients are not able to take a whole day off from work to come for an appointment, “ says Ilana Steinhauer, FNP, Executive Director, “Our drivers help them to keep appointments and follow-up with tests and treatments so they have good health.”

VIM volunteer drivers must be licensed and insured with good driving records

“We have a group of drivers who have transported a patient to weekly cancer treatments for close to 60 rides. Another driver has taken patients to Boston, Springfield, and Worchester for surgeries,” says Natalia DeRuzzio, Patient Services Coordinator.

In 2018, VIM served about 1,000 uninsured adults with 5,500 appointments for primary care, restorative dentistry, optometry, integrative pain management, nutrition counseling, massage, acupuncture, and behavioral health. The volunteer-powered organization relies on donations to be able to offer free care to the uninsured.

(press release sent to WSBS from Angela Lomanto of VIM Berkshires for online and on-air use, featured image taken from VIM Berkshires Facebook page