Richard Fleming, MD
Volunteers in Public Service Program
“Volunteering reflects a desire to give back. As physicians, we understand how fortunate we are to be in a position to return something to the community.”
What started as Dr. Fleming’s personal interest in doing volunteer work in his local community, blossomed into the Volunteers in Public Service (VIPS) – a program to make it easy for TPMG physicians to volunteer their services.
“In hallway conversations, I heard colleagues say that they would be interested in volunteering, but didn’t know how to get started,” explains Dr. Fleming. So, in 2005, beginning with Youth and Family Services, an agency that helps mothers who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, he created a program in which he assesses a non-profit organization’s need for physician volunteers, ensures a safe environment, organizes malpractice coverage, and arranges volunteer schedules. The TPMG physicians who volunteer even receive job descriptions and an orientation.
Currently, about two dozen physicians, including Dr. Fleming, volunteer a half a day every other month to provide health education, training for staff, or direct clinical services at six community agencies. Dr. Fleming describes the program as a win/win/win: the agencies benefit directly from the volunteer activities; the physicians enjoy their volunteer work; and KP receives community recognition. But he won’t be satisfied until the VIPS program is expanded to include retired TPMG physicians and is adopted by other medical centers in Northern California.