Connecting for Health
Your Contributions Make a Difference
Volunteer/Donor Profile: Al Varner, MD
Community members who volunteer or donate are key to our success. Read how a Marin physician has done both for over two decades.
Twenty-five years ago, when gastroenterologist Dr. Al Varner began volunteering at Marin Community Clinics, care was provided in church basements by an all-volunteer team. Over the years, he watched the organization flourish and grow to become the success it is today.
25 years of service
Initially, Dr. Varner provided basic pre-employment exams to uninsured patients who needed medical clearance to get a job. Soon thereafter, he and his colleagues began providing free consultations and care to patients with gastrointestinal disorders. They also began performing endoscopes at Marin General Hospital and The Endoscopy Center of Marin in collaboration with Operation Access, which coordinates free outpatient surgeries to the uninsured.
In 2014, Dr. Varner received the Clinics’ Health Champion award in recognition of his 25 years of service. He retired from medical practice in 2013, but his passion for the Clinics continues – both as an advocate to encourage more physician specialists to volunteer and as a donor.
“Volunteering with the Clinics was extremely rewarding,” Al says. “I got a great deal of fulfillment – from educating and reassuring patients about their symptoms to diagnosing and successfully treating diseases such as colon polyps and cancer.”
A call for physician specialists to volunteer
“The Clinics can’t do a comprehensive job without outpatient specialty care,” he reports. “Currently, Marin Community Clinics has just nine active volunteer medical specialists. They do wonderful work, but more help is needed.”
“The Clinics has a few medical specialists on its staff and the Referral Department works hard to find outside specialists who will see patients in their own offices,” says Dr. Varner. “But having more medical specialists volunteer to work at the Clinics would make a big difference. They would find it a rewarding experience. And it’s easier than they might think because of the tremendous support provided by the Clinics staff.”
Physicians and other medical specialists interested in volunteering are invited to visit https://www.marinclinic.org/join-our-team/
Donating to the Clinics: a family priority
Al and his wife Eileen are annual donors to a number of not-for-profit organizations, and Marin Community Clinics is one of their priorities.
Since 1997, the Varners have been steadfast supporters of the Clinics. When the 2007 Capital Campaign was launched to build two new clinic sites, the Varners made an additional major gift and Dr. Varner successfully solicited other substantial donations.
“Besides making our own donations, we try to find other ways to benefit the Clinics,” says Al. One example: the Varners often invite prospective donors to accompany them to the annual Summer Solstice event. “It’s a great opportunity to introduce people to Marin Community Clinics and the wonderful work it does in Marin,” he reports.
When it comes to philanthropic support of Marin Community Clinics, the Varners’ philosophy is very clear:
“Just like every community deserves a hospital, every community deserves access to outpatient care,” he explains. “Marin Community Clinics is the provider of choice for many and the safety net for all. It deserves our loyal and wholehearted support.”