“If you build it, they will come,” a popular line from a movie, fits the divine narrative that encapsulates the 25 years that Lackey Clinic has cared for uninsured adults on the Virginia Peninsula. As a faith-based free and charitable healthcare center, it has brought light and life to some of the most vulnerable.
Larry Trumbore, the clinic’s executive director, made his way to the clinic in an unconventional manner. This West Point graduate and former West Point instructor was an Army infantry officer who had served with the 82nd Airborne Division for two tours. Following his military service, he spent eight years working in the Fortune 500 world, 10 years as an entrepreneur and six years working with nonprofits.
Before relocating to Virginia, he and his wife Kim had lived in Michigan for 19 years. Says Trumbore, “once our kids got through schools and colleges, we decided to come back to the East Coast where we’re both from.” While neither had ever lived in Hampton Roads, a job offer for Kim from the Hampton VA Medical Center and the lure of the beach was the draw. For his next career move, Trumbore says he was “looking to do some noble work,” and a former colleague recommended Lackey Clinic.
Trumbore recalls and respects the rigorous selection process that secured his position with the clinic. “I was amazed at the professionalism of the staff; the mission is incredible, he says. “I just fell in love with the place and they gave me a chance.” Trumbore was hired as executive director in September 2018.
The clinic he now oversees has grown tremendously since its opening in 1995. Co-founded by Jim and Cooka Shaw, the clinic has expanded from a one-day-a-week clinic housed in a Sunday school classroom to a state-of-the-art facility providing a full range of healthcare services.
Services offered through the clinic include medical, dental, behavioral health, medication, spiritual care and specialty services, and its service area includes Williamsburg, James City County, Newport News, York County and Poquoson. While there have been many changes to the size of the facility and in the number of staff and volunteers involved, its mission has remained the same, according to its website, “to serve in a manner that honors the name of Jesus Christ.”
While Trumbore had no background in healthcare and had never seen a free health clinic, his military experience proved invaluable in continuing the legacy, advancing the mission and in expanding the clinic’s available services. As a former “CEO” on the battlefield, he knew how to manage different entities that he wasn’t necessarily an expert in, but he understood its mission and how to best secure and deploy its resources.
Working alongside an incredible medical director, Dr. Jill Cottel, 30 staff members and a host of volunteers puts a smile on his face. As one of 64 free clinics in Virginia, he’s aware of how other clinics often struggle to get doctors and volunteers. Says Trumbore, “we’re just the opposite; we have an abundance of doctors, nurses, dentists and people who want to give of their time.
“When COVID came, I was really proud of our staff and our medical director who kept saying, ‘Yep, we’re going to see how to make this work.’” With a change in operation, the clinic provided service primarily through telehealth virtual appointments. The dental clinic closed temporarily to install equipment to deal with the aerosols released through various dental processes. The pharmacy was modified to “pickup” from an area created on the side of the clinic building.
While the staff continued its work, the volunteer force was greatly reduced to protect their health and safety. “We do have some volunteer nurses who come in to call patients and do some other work for us, but a lot of our volunteers are older, so we made an early decision that we were not going to put them at risk,” says Trumbore.
From the patient perspective, he says, “at first they didn’t realize that we were open and when we called and told them we were, they were just so grateful to have someone to talk with and to see that we continue to care.” Through this difficult pandemic time, he remains amazed and grateful for the outpouring of kind letters, financial support and meals that the community has provided.
His vision for the clinic is to double or triple its patient population and to serve as an increasingly bigger conduit for helping people give back to those in need. As the clinic continues to increase in support and services, Trumbore remains forever mindful of the opportunity he’s been entrusted with. He embraces the stewardship of the resources, products, support and goodwill that continue to build upon the foundation formed 25 years ago. Yes, it was built and people continue to come.
TO THE POINT:
Address: 1620 Old Williamsburg Rd., Yorktown, VA 23690