Finding new ways to change lives

Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative

Library | 8/11/2020

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Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative (BVMI) had to make a drastic shift when the Covid-19 pandemic forced them to temporarily close their doors. The organization provides free primary, preventive, chronic and urgent healthcare to low-income Bergen County, New Jersey residents who do not have health insurance. Their patients were some of those hardest hit by the pandemic—most lost their low-wage jobs or they were essential workers on the frontlines.


Our patients were scared,” said Amanda Missey, President & CEO. “No one knew what was going on with the virus and didn’t know about hand hygiene or social distancing. They still needed healthcare and we had to find a way to deliver it to them.”


How BVMI adapted to the new normal

Immediately after the doors closed, BVMI started phone triage, fielding calls about prescription refills, lab results and information on Covid-19.  A few short weeks later, the organization launched their telehealth program. Despite never having done telehealth, BVMI adapted quickly. This included the provisioning and distribution of BVMI laptops to volunteers and staff who didn’t have the necessary equipment at home; training for all on the platform; development of policies and procedures to transition from in-person to virtual visits; and developing workarounds and solutions to several technology challenges. Due to this program, BVMI has been able to deliver healthcare to their patients and meet their essential needs despite the challenges the pandemic posed.


The silver lining in all of this is that it’s given us a new way to give patients care,” says Missey. “One of our diabetic patients was able to step away from his job and have a fifteen-minute call with a doctor rather than taking time off of work and risk taking a bus to get to us.”


The organization has been life-changing for some of its patients. One 51-year-old patient discovered she had early stage breast cancer after not having a mammogram for years because she couldn’t afford healthcare. Another patient with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol was suffering from hallucinations as a result of low oxygen from COVID-19; he was sent home from the emergency room with an oxygenator and BVMI practitioners monitored him remotely.


BVMI is in the process of a slow reopening, but their telehealth program is here to stay.  Valley Bank could not be more proud to support the program and the organization. The funds we’ve donated through our Community Pledge CD program will help ensure that patient needs are met and that they will have access to vital care as well as help restore services disrupted by the pandemic.  


Our experience in the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that our patients, many of whom live with great financial uncertainty and lack the support networks that others in the community take for granted, require a great deal of assistance at a time of crisis,” says Ms. Missey. "We’re so grateful for the good-hearted community volunteers, donors, and corporate partners like Valley Bank who have answered the call for help.”



Find out more about BVMI


Visit to learn more about Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative (BVMI), and be sure to follow them on Facebook.



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