Our Organization

About Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative

Providing free medical care to 1,200 patients every year

BVMI has a dedicated team of 75 volunteer healthcare professionals providing care to 1,200 patients annually. We see patients five days a week, both in the clinic and via telehealth. We have a nurse practitioner on staff who is available for phone consults and sick visits, helping to keep patients out of the emergency room.

BVMI works hard to meet the unique needs of our diverse patient population.  We believe that how people are treated during a visit to BVMI’s Healthcare Center is as important as the medical care they receive. Our patient-centered approach to care includes language interpreters and acknowledgement of the wide range of cultural, educational and life experiences.

Picture of 2 male volunteers in the clinic, one is wearing a white doctors coat.

Mission

Powered by passionate volunteers, BVMI delivers free, high-quality healthcare to Bergen County’s working uninsured, helping them live healthy, productive lives.

BVMI Nurse Manager Michelle meeting with a volunteer doctor at the nurses station.

Vision

All individuals will have access to equitable, high-quality healthcare.

BVMI Volunteer Manager with her hands making the shape of a heart.

Values

Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.  We treat patients and one another with dignity, respect and compassion, and we strive to meet the highest standards of medical practice.

BVMI Staff Nurse Karla taking the blood pressure of a patient in one of the healthcare center exam rooms.

Non-Discrimination

Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or age.

This policy of non-discrimination applies to hiring of personnel, election of board members, provision of services to patients, contracting for purchasing services and all other activities of BVMI.

How BVMI Began

Dr. Sam Cassell and The Volunteer Bug

In 2001, Sam Cassell, an internist in Fair Lawn, retired from active practice. He did all the things that you are supposed to do when you retire – read books, joined the Y, played bridge and traveled. While on a trip to the Far East, he was instrumental in arranging for a young Vietnamese girl to get free medical treatment in the US. From there, he went on to participate in a medical mission to Haiti – an experience he planned to repeat until back surgery made it impossible. But, Sam was hooked on volunteerism.

Ribbon cutting ceremony at the opening of the BVMI healthcare clinic. Founder Dr. Sam Cassell featured with numerous guests.

How BVMI Began

Dr. Sam Cassell and The Volunteer Bug

In 2001, Sam Cassell, an internist in Fair Lawn, retired from active practice. He did all the things that you are supposed to do when you retire – read books, joined the Y, played bridge and traveled. While on a trip to the Far East, he was instrumental in arranging for a young Vietnamese girl to get free medical treatment in the US. From there, he went on to participate in a medical mission to Haiti – an experience he planned to repeat until back surgery made it impossible. But, Sam was hooked on volunteerism.

A chance exchange got Sam thinking about the needs of people right here in Bergen County. After many conversations with others who provided vital services to those in need – and after discovering Volunteers in Medicine, which offered a proven model of providing healthcare through volunteer health practitioners – Sam began to recruit people to help him build Bergen County’s only healthcare center that provides free primary care to low-income Bergen County residents who are working but don’t have insurance.

The first BVMI Healthcare Center opened its doors in November, 2009. Due to tremendous growth and the need for its services, BVMI relocated to the new Lynn Diamond Healthcare Center in 2017.

A chance exchange got Sam thinking about the needs of people right here in Bergen County. After many conversations with others who provided vital services to those in need – and after discovering Volunteers in Medicine, which offered a proven model of providing healthcare through volunteer health practitioners – Sam began to recruit people to help him build Bergen County’s only healthcare center that provides free primary care to low-income Bergen County residents who are working but don’t have insurance.

The first BVMI Healthcare Center opened its doors in November, 2009. Due to tremendous growth and the need for its services, BVMI relocated to the new Lynn Diamond Healthcare Center in 2017.