In her own quiet, unassuming way, Dr. Vi was able to accomplish her most important life goal:
Providing access to medical care for those in her community who need it most.
The Life of Dr. Viola Startzman
Viola Startzman, MD, was a retired pediatrician and former director of the College of Wooster Student Health Center. At age 78, “Dr. Vi” was named chairperson of a committee formed in the early 1990’s by Wooster Mayor Clyde Breneman and the Board of Governors of Wooster Community Hospital to research needed health care services in Wayne County. The hospital made a small building on its campus available for $1.00 in annual rent for 25 years, and after years of hard work by many community members, “Healthcare 2000 Community Clinic” opened its doors on August 3, 1995. Many individuals and organizations came together to generously support this vision and they continue to do so today.
In 2000, the clinic’s name changed to reflect Dr. Vi’s vision of serving lower-income uninsured residents of Wayne County. Three years later Dr. Vi purchased and donated the former Wooster Orthopaedics building, allowing the Viola Startzman Free Clinic to meet the increasing demand for its services. Dr. Vi’s passion and commitment to the Free Clinic continued until her death in August 2013, and she remained an active member of the Board of Trustees to the very end.
AWARDS AND HONORS
Over the years, Dr. Vi was recognized by numerous local, state, and national organizations for her commitment to the medically underserved.
- In 2013, Dr. Vi was recognized as the 2013 Speaking of Women’s Health “Woman of the Year” by the Cleveland Clinic.
- In early 2009, Dr. Vi became a member of the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce’s elite “Wall of Fame” in honor of her lifelong commitment to providing the medically underserved with access to high quality healthcare and was also recognized by the Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross as a “Real Community Hero”.
- In December 2008, WKYC-TV, Cleveland’s NBC affiliate, aired a segment on Dr. Vi and the Clinic.
- In April 2008, the Wayne County Commissioners named Dr. Vi as one of the 25 most influential people who “have made Wayne County what it is today.” The names on the list were shared for inclusion in the Ohio Statehouse Museum.
- In April 2008, Wooster Mayor Bob Breneman and City Council passed a resolution honoring the life and achievements of Dr. Vi, citing “we look to her as an example of a life well lived”.
- In February 2008, the American Medical Association Foundation recognized Dr. Vi with the 2008 “Jack B. McConnell, MD Award for Excellence in Volunteerism”, an award given to senior domestic physicians for commitment to volunteer medical care to those without access to health care in the U.S.
- In 2004, she received the “Jack O’Donnell Award for Community Service” by the Wooster Chamber of Commerce.
- In 2003, she received the “Champion of Free Clinics Award” by the Ohio Association of Free Clinics.
- In 2002, Dr. Vi was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame, established in 1978 to recognize the state’s outstanding women leaders and trailblazers.
- In December 2001, the Daily Record newspaper named Dr. Vi a “Citizen of the Year”.
- In 1994, she received a Doctor of Science, Honorary, from her undergraduate alma mater, the College of Wooster.
- In 1990, Dr. Vi received the “Woman of Achievement Award” from the City of Wooster.
A colleague once described Dr. Vi as “a person of rare dedication, compassion and purpose who has accomplished much for the good of others and provided an exemplary character for others to emulate.” When asked by the AMA Foundation about the driving force behind her years of volunteer work, Dr. Vi stated, “I think everyone has a right to health care, good health care, just as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.