<img class="size-medium wp-image-59678 alignleft" src="https:\/\/theenterprise.net\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/23\/2021\/12\/clinic_1640692324-300x200.jpg" alt="" width="300" height="200" \/>While organizations and communities work to increase access to healthcare for vulnerable populations nationwide, new survey data from the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (VAFCC) reveals that their 60 member organizations are navigating staffing challenges with patient demand increasing across the state.\r\n\r\nThe survey, which included responses from 50 member clinics in November, revealed 76% of clinics are seeing an uptick in patient demand compared to the previous year. Clinics reported rising needs in all services lines including dental, medical, behavioral health and pharmaceutical. COVID-19 related testing and vaccinations are becoming the most requested services.\r\n\r\nWhile patient demand is on the rise, many clinics are experiencing workforce challenges that are impacting operational capacity. Forty percent of clinics report paid staffing shortages and lack of volunteers are limiting capacity.\r\n\r\nThe findings come as COVID-19 cases in Virginia have risen almost 80 percent, the highest figure since mid-October.\r\n\r\n\u201cDuring these challenging times when the need for accessible healthcare has never been more apparent, free and charitable clinics are caring for vulnerable Virginians,\u201d said Rufus Phillips, VAFCC CEO. \u201cClinics have never slowed down since the start of the pandemic and they remain committed to providing quality and innovative care, regardless of a person\u2019s ability to pay. We expect the demand for care at clinics to only increase in the coming months. The additional burdens are straining the limited resources of clinics.\u201d\r\n\r\nClinics need a mix of volunteer provider positions including nurse practitioners, physicians, nurses, dentists and dental hygienists. The VAFCC encourages interested providers to visit its\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/volunteer.vafreeclinics.org\/">Volunteer Opportunity Board & Directory<\/a>\u00a0to connect quickly and efficiently to current volunteer needs.\r\n\r\n\u201cWith just a couple clicks, providers across the state can review current needs or add their name to a directory of interested volunteers for free clinics to contact for future opportunities,\u201d said Rebecca Butler, VAFCC Vice President for Marketing, Communications & Development. \u201cIf you\u2019re a medical professional and would like to volunteer your time, we urge you to connect with a local clinic.\u201d\r\n\r\nFree and charitable clinics provided safe and accessible health services to more than 74,000 vulnerable Virginians in 2020. VAFCC manages\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/freeclinicscare.org\/">freeclinicscare.org<\/a>\u00a0to connect patients with a range of healthcare services at nearby clinics.