Rebecca Vinson, ARNP
“My philosophy in general is that I am responsible for my community, and I don’t take that responsibility lightly.”
Rebecca Vinson is a nurse practitioner who volunteers frequently at the clinic. A success story in her own right, she endured tragedy in her childhood, poverty and homelessness at a young age. She remained determined in her pursuit of education, made her way through nursing school while parenting, and was able to better support herself and her family when she began working as an RN. Enjoying her experience in health care and wanting to take it a step further, she returned to school to become an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner.
She understands the value of free clinics. “We didn’t have a free clinic in the small town where I’m from, and I had to utilize emergency rooms because I couldn’t pay for doctor visits. Living outside, you have no barrier from the elements and I would get strep throat or bronchitis, I could have really used a free clinic back then.”
“My experience volunteering at Neighborhood clinic has been great. It has been better than I ever even expected, primarily because you get a sense from everyone that is volunteering that everyone cares, and we give people really great care. I don’t feel that just because it’s a free clinic anyone is getting shortchanged. We give excellent care. It makes me very proud, and I refer people here all the time.”
In her day to day work at the American Lake VA as the Primary Care Provider for the Homeless Veterans Primary Care Team, she regularly sees how homelessness affects people’s medical needs, and how hard it is to control diabetes, blood pressure and other chronic conditions when basic food and shelter needs are not met. “I’m very passionate about helping underprivileged and homeless people. It’s the reason I wake up in the morning. I love it.”
She notes that she often comes across people who are homeless or poor and in need of help, but who are not veterans, so she’s unable to help them during her VA hours. “Other people are falling through the cracks and I feel like I need to help those other parts of the community. So that’s really one of the reasons I volunteer at Neighborhood Clinic.” Because of her pride in the service provided by Neighborhood Clinic, she often refers non-veterans in need to Neighborhood Clinic where she feels confident they can have their medical issues addressed and be connected to other services they may need through the volunteer social work provider.
Of her patients, Rebecca says that she enjoys striking up conversations with them during the consult. “I find everyone quite fascinating,…Everyone has a story and they’re all fascinating. Many people go through hard times in life and it’s really nothing they could have controlled or predicted, like losing a job or other sudden changes.
“My philosophy in general is that I am responsible for my community, and I don’t take that responsibility lightly. These are my neighbors, and I cannot walk past people every day when I have a skill set that could help them.”
Neighborhood Clinic is grateful to Rebecca for her service, commitment, and willingness to share her story!
Read more about Rebecca’s inspiring story and that of her son, Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham, at this link: http://karlsprague.com/samaritan-saint/
For more information about the VA’s health care programs for homeless veterans, see http://www.va.gov/homeless/h_pact.asp