Several years ago, Dr. Michael Imburgia was looking for ways to give back to his community. While opportunities to donate money were all around him, he wanted to find a way to give of his time and expertise.
That is the genesis of what is now the Have a Heart Clinic, which Dr. Imburgia started with his wife, Sandy, and Susan Dillon in 2008.
“I’ve always felt I needed to do more,” Dr. Imburgia says. “We wanted to feel we were sacrificing and doing something, and there’s such a need for services for the uninsured.”
Imburgia, a cardiologist, says 40 percent of patients who go to clinics for the indigent population have cardiovascular issues. He says he wants the Have a Heart Clinic, which currently sees about 20 patients per month, to be a place those clinics can refer uninsured patients.
When the clinic began, Dr. Imburgia used his own office space on one Saturday per month to see patients, who were not charged a penny. In 2017, the clinic obtained its own space at 310 E. Broadway, and is now open for patients on two Saturdays and two weeknights per month. All of the workers are volunteers, including doctors, nurses, medical assistants and technicians.
“The response from volunteers has been overwhelming,” he says. “We’ve even had patients who we’ve served come back and serve as volunteers.”
Part of the reason Imburgia chose the space on East Broadway is that it is on a TARC bus line because the clinic needed to be accessible to those who have no transportation. Previously, there had been a high no-show rate because it was a struggle for patients to get to the clinic.
The clinic performs cardio tests at no charge and then helps patients navigate the often-complex healthcare system if additional treatment is required, including hospital visits when necessary. Its “coordinated care” approach helps connect patients to nurses, social service agencies, and even the YMCA for blood pressure education, as well as diet and exercise information.
Recently, the clinic began offering free vascular screenings in various parts of Metro Louisville, with a focus on the West End and South Louisville, in order to reach more people.
“We don’t think people should have to struggle to get checked,” Dr. Imburgia says, adding that it was important to get services to individuals where they live.
He said he became more motivated to help those in the West End in 2014, when he read the Metro Louisville Government’s Health Equity Report, which showed life expectancy rates differ by as much as 15 years depending on where you reside.
Imburgia, an Illinois native, moved to Louisville in 1988. In addition to his primary practice, he is the Medical Director of the Outpatient Cardiovascular Ultrasound Lab at Baptist Health Louisville. Recently, he was honored at the third annual Commitment to Compassion Luncheon for his work with the Have a Heart Clinic.