The Friendship Centers' Health Services help thousands of patients every year, but they're in constant need of more support. The clinic is always in need of volunteer physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, nurses, dental hygienists, clinic aides and office personnel. Call Volunteer Services at 941.556.3249 for information.
And, in terms of monetary support, as a non-profit organization staffed largely by volunteers, The Friendship Centers rely on the support of people in the community to provide vital healthcare for patients in need. Monetary donations are always welcome. For information, contact Marty Katz at 941.556.3253.
Meet volunteer family practice physician Dr. Bette Boysen. With more than 35 years of experience, including 11 years at the University of Florida and 25 in private practice in Gainesville, before retiring to Venice, Dr. Boysen has both a passion for medicine and compassion for her patients.
After an initial consultation, she gave Kathleen a basic physical and referred her to Sarasota Memorial for a mammogram. When a spot showed up on the mammogram, Dr. Boysen helped her get a referral for surgery to remove it. “Dr. Boysen is very thorough, she covered every little aspect of my care,” Digrugillers said. “She’s a wonderful doctor, very caring. I feel like I’m in very good hands.”
“I enjoy patient care, it makes me feel good when I can continue using my education and knowledge to help people,” Dr. Boysen smiles. The combination of retired physicians serving seniors in need has been has been working at the Friendship Centers Venice clinic since it opened in 1997.
The clinics have literally helped Kathleen breathe easier. When complications of asthma and nasal polyps made it difficult to breathe, Dr. Huston King (now deceased), also a volunteered at the clinic. removed the polyps with one painless procedure that he had actually developed. While her struggle with asthma continues, thanks to Dr. Boysen, she is able to get medications needed to control it at a reduced cost through the Bridges Program at the Family Health Clinic Pharmacy in Nokomis. She also has received dental care through the Friendship Centers Dental clinic.
“Thanks to Friendship Centers Clinic I can attest to having good health now and medicine that keeps me healthy. I can work,” Kathleen gratefully acknowledges.
For volunteer doctors and dentists, being able to practice the medicine they love while experiencing the reward of helping patients in need is extremely gratifying. Without the stresses of running a practice, they have more time to spend with patients, to really get to know them and understand their medical needs. The relationships that evolve are especially beneficial for older patients with multiple health issues.
We asked Dr. Boysen specifically about the women’s health issues in our community she sees at the clinic. “High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and lipid cholesterol are common to women older women, and I also see bronchitis, COPD and asthma,” she said.
“Increasingly I’m seeing patients with depression, anxiety and insomnia, caused understandably by the stress of caregiving, lack of money, family issues and other health concerns,” she added. “We’re fortunate to have volunteer psychiatrists, a psychologist and a nurse practitioner specializing in mental health to help them.”
“One of the biggest challenges I see is that our patients often haven’t seen a physician or dentist in years, and they have significant health needs. We try to help them get the medications and tests they need,” she noted.
The Friendship Centers Venice Health Clinics serve low income individuals 50 and older who qualify. Medicare and Medicaid are accepted and fees are based on a sliding scale .The clinic has 18 volunteer physicians representing primary care, cardiology, plastic surgery, psychiatry, cardiology, gerontology, neurology, gynecology and audiology. There are eight dentists, including two oral surgeons, and a dental hygienist.
To become a patient: Located in the Pat Buster Health Clinic on the Friendship Centers Venice campus, 2350 Scenic Drive, the clinics are open from 8 am -4 pm Monday through Thursday. Fees are on a sliding scale based on ability to pay. Eligibility packets may be picked up at any time during clinic hours, and an eligibility specialist is available by appointment on Wednesdays. To learn more, call 941.584.0041 for information.