Dr. Howard E. Voss has treated thousands of patients and saved Martin County taxpayers millions of dollars during his 12 years as the volunteer medical director of the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic.
It’s but a small part of the legacy created in 1995 by the late Dr. Fred Carter, then nurtured, sustained and strengthened by a core group of volunteers who never lost faith in providing quality care to the medically indigent.
That list is shrinking as many of the original volunteers retire. Dr. Dorothea Glass, 92, tirelessly campaigned for the clinic when its future was in jeopardy. Dr. Bill Tozzo, 83, underwrote the mortgage to pay for the building. Dr. Howard Voss, 77, continues to work three days a week treating patients, training students and overseeing clinic operations.
It seemed appropriate to honor his work, said Ivins Steinhauer, president of The Friends of Volunteers in Medicine Clinic, which is responsible for fundraising and financial operations.
“Dr. Voss came to Stuart to retire,” he pointed out. “He could have continued earning here. Instead, he spent the next 15 years giving back to a community in which he had
no roots and no history. That’s a rare man, indeed.”
Steinhauer frequently jokes about Dr. Voss being worth double his salary, but he’s acutely aware of the impact on VIM’s finances. “Without Dr. Voss, we would have paid at least $2 million in salary alone over the past decade,” Steinhauer said. “That’s money we were able to spend on patient care instead.”
With a donation from Walter McManus to underwrite the bronze bust, the FVIM board commissioned Utah artist, Stanley J. Watts.
Working from photos, Watts sculpted Dr. Voss’s likeness and used the traditional lost wax method to cast the piece. Carpenter Chris Gibbens of Hobe Sound, a former patient of Dr. Voss’s, built the wood pedestal.
From 1995, when the clinic opened, through to 2001, it was part of Martin Memorial Hospital, when the medical director earned $150,000 a year. In 2001, the clinic became an independent nonprofit. Dr. Carter continued seeing patients and working on behalf of the clinic. Dr. Voss stepped into the role of volunteer medical director, and never looked back.
“This work has been the most important of my life, even after 50 years in medicine,” Dr. Voss said. “I have always believed in caring for my patients to the very best of my ability, no matter what their economic circumstances might be. Now I hope new doctors will step up and continue this work.”