Special Projects Fund

Project Title

The Medical Altruism Project

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

August 21, 2008


Long Island






The National Association of Free Clinics estimates that there are more than 1,200 free clinics in the United States. Free clinics use volunteer physicians, nurses, other health practitioners, and non-medical personnel to provide free medical, dental, pharmacy, and other behavioral health services to low-income people who do not have insurance or other means to pay for care.

RotaCare, a free clinic on Long Island, relies completely on a cadre of more than 100 volunteer doctors, pharmacists, dentists, nurses, paraprofessionals, and clerical workers. However, by 2008, many of RotaCare’s volunteers were aging out, and it needed to replace and augment its volunteer base. In August 2008, the New York Health Foundation awarded RotaCare a grant to develop and implement strategies to recruit more medical and non-medical volunteer staff.

The Altruism Project will replenish the ranks of volunteers and augment the menu of available services with sustainability initiatives, including establishing a full-time volunteer manager and speaker’s bureau, developing a Web site and launching a media campaign to attract a new class of volunteers. RotaCare is staffed solely by volunteers—including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians, social workers and translators—who care for approximately 1,800 indigent patients with a yearly total of 3,900 visits to the facility.