VNA Foundation Awards Timely Grant to Pilot Telehealth Services at Illinois Free Clinics

Chicago, IL – April 9, 2020.

Virtual services that respond to the COVID-19 crisis are launching everywhere. But in the community-based healthcare sector, particularly among providers that care for people who are underserved, virtual services such as telehealth are scarce. The VNA Foundation knows from its years of funding Metro Chicago’s free and charitable clinics that access to specialty health care, in particular, is difficult for patients who rely on community-based clinics. In search of a potential solution, VNA contacted The MAVEN Project, a nonprofit that uses skilled volunteer specialist physicians to provide virtual consults, education and mentoring to community-based providers, to determine if The MAVEN Project’s telehealth services could be launched in Illinois. After careful review and with the assistance of the Illinois Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (IAFCC), VNA Foundation awarded a $60,000 grant to The MAVEN Project to pilot its suite of telehealth services with three Illinois free clinics.

The MAVEN Project (Medical Alumni Volunteer Expert Network) is dedicated to ensuring that every person has access to high-quality specialty care, regardless of location or means. To do this, a corps of experienced volunteer physicians are recruited and retained to work with community-based providers in delivering comprehensive care to uninsured and underinsured patients via telehealth. Thanks to the support of the VNA Foundation, The MAVEN Project is launching its first partnerships in the Midwest.  “We’re thrilled to be working with the VNA Foundation, IAFCC, and our new Chicago area clinic partners,” said MAVEN Project CEO Lisa Bard Levine, MD, MBA. “Now more than ever, we need to ensure everyone can access the care they need to be healthy, and that providers are supported with the resources and technology they need to keep themselves and their patients safe.”

A survey administered by The Illinois Association of Free & Charitable Clinics determined that, although some free clinics had pro bono relationships with specialists in their communities and others had specialists who volunteered at their clinics, several others had no access to specialty care whatsoever. After further assessing the need and capacity to launch telehealth services, three IAFCC member clinics were invited to participate in the pilot program with MAVEN: Family Health Partnership Clinic in McHenry County, Bolingbrook Christian Health Center serving DuPage and Will Counties, and the Chicago Women’s Health Center.

“We cannot think of a better time than now, in the midst of this serious health crisis impacting all of us, to help bring telehealth technology to our area’s free and charitable clinics,” said VNA Foundation Executive Director Rob DiLeonardi.  “And by partnering with The MAVEN Project, we can use that technology to bring to clinic doctors and nurses the kind of input from expert specialists that they frequently request—and just when they need it most.”

For more information contact Claudia Baier, Director Community Engagement/Senior Program Officer at VNA Foundation, 312-214-1521 or claudia@vnafoundation.net, or Meghan Guidry, Vice President/Communications & Donor Engagement at The MAVEN Project, 617-641-9743 x710 or mguidry@mavenproject.org.

The VNA Foundation supports home- and community-based agencies in the metropolitan Chicago area that provide public health services to medically underserved populations. In FY19, VNA Foundation awarded $2.5m to 59 nonprofit agencies.