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Patient gives back to Volunteers in Medicine Clinic

Mariana and some of the masks she made for Volunteers in Medicine Clinic
Volunteers in Medicine
Mariana and some of the masks she made for Volunteers in Medicine Clinic

Making masks also turned into a substitute business amid COVID-19

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Three years ago, Mariana found herself in a distressing situation. As an uninsured small business owner, her options for care seemed limited when she considered her breast, which had enlarged to 3 times its normal size, had become hard, and was now very painful and causing her chills.

With no other options available to her, she called Volunteers in Medicine, and she was asked to come to the clinic for testing ASAP.

She remembers her fear when she first came to the clinic, but also recalls how “Dr. Letovsky (VIM Medical Director) and Jennifer Fuller (Nurse Manager) were so kind to me.”

She got an ultrasound, which found a build-up of fluid and a bad infection. The VIM staff set her up with an appointment with a breast cancer specialist and sent her home with medication for her infection.

In the end, she needed surgery. Her husband cared for her, helped her change her bandages and kept her clean. She recalls, “For me, it was terrible. Every time I looked in the mirror and saw myself I thought, ‘Oh, I’m a monster now.’”

It took two years of recovery, but she slowly began to see improvement and regain her health. Mariana says, “I want to share my story. If I can help people and I can tell them what happened to me, then VIM is able to help them.” Mariana has been in full health for one year.

The staff at Volunteers in Medicine got to visit with Mariana in early April, when she came to the clinic to donate 100 face masks she sewed for other VIM patients.

Mariana owns Alterations and Designs by Alin, a small business that focuses on bridal gown alterations. Her business has since closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but she began receiving requests for face masks.

Initially Mariana was unsure whether she should pursue this, but her husband suggested that since she wasn’t doing her regular work it was worth a try. She’s now selling her masks through her Facebook page and just received her first order for 100 masks for a local business purchasing them for their employees.

About Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades

Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades (VIM) is a nonprofit clinic in Bend that provides free medical care to low-income, uninsured adults from working families in Central Oregon. Our mission is “to improve the health and wellness of the medically uninsured or critically underserved through the engagement of professionals, community partners, and dedicated volunteers.” VIM is the only clinic in Central Oregon that cares for the uninsured without charge. Patients receive primary and specialty medical care, medications, mental health care, surgery, physical therapy, lab work, medical tests, and education programs. All care is provided through medical and support volunteers.

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