In 1999, St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy of Charlotte County Inc. was founded by Dr. Thomas F. Ferrara. The pharmacy was an outgrowth of Dr. Ferrara’s volunteer work with Punta Gorda’s Sacred Heart Church conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, of which he was president. Dr. Ferrara saw the nonprofit Community Pharmacy as a necessity in Charlotte County, Florida.
The Pharmacy opened May 17, 2000. Dr. Ferrara served as the volunteer chief administrator and on the Board of Directors until his retirement in 2007. In 2007, St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy restructured and became St. Vincent de Paul Community Health Care, Inc. (SVDP) with a satellite Pharmacy in Englewood, Florida.
Following the success of the Pharmacy, Dr. Mark Asperilla and Dr. David Klein, SVDP Co-Medical Directors, recognized the need for a free medical clinic in Charlotte County due to the increased number of Charlotte residents without medical care and insurance.
After months of planning, Drs. Klein and Asperilla implemented a plan to open a free medical clinic to care specifically for the uninsured, under-insured and working poor in Charlotte County. The objective was not only to provide life-giving care but also to empower patients to actively engage in disease prevention, health education and treatment plans.
Through a partnership with the Volunteers in Medicine Alliance, SVDP Board of Directors, and with the mobilization of significant community resources, Drs. Klein and Asperilla opened the doors of the St. Vincent de Paul Community Health Clinic and Pharmacy in early February 2008.
In October 2009, St. Vincent De Paul Community Health Clinic was renamed Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic in honor of a long-time community volunteer who made a generous and significant financial gift and created an endowment to provide our clinic with future capital funds. In addition to the profound impact on saving lives, the VBA Clinic has made a significant impact on the community by minimizing emergency room visits and expenses at the three local hospitals.