By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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The Port Angeles-based nonprofit provides limited health care services to North Olympic Peninsula residents who can't afford to pay for them.
Little, 59, has served as executive director of Volunteers in Medicine of the Olympics, or VIMO, since the spring of 2008.
He announced his resignation at the VIMO board meeting March 3.
“It was time to move on to other pursuits,” Little said Thursday.
Little said he is “exploring different options” but plans to return to private practice dentistry on a part-time basis and continue to volunteer.
He and his wife, Michelle, will remain in the Port Angeles area.
They will continue to organize and direct the popular North Olympic Discovery Marathon, which Larry Little started in 2003.
“That's our baby,” he said.
When he started with VIMO six years ago, Larry Little said he never imagined that the directorship would become a full-time job.
“It's become that, and that's great,” he said.
“That's a really good thing.”
VIMO is “really healthy right now,” with more programs and capacity than it has ever had, Little said.
“It's got a really strong, stable staff,” he added.
“Financially, it's very sound. We went through an organizational restructuring over the course of the last three years. There are strong governing policies in place.”
Little said he plans to work with VIMO in its transition to a new executive director.
Dr. Tom Locke, public health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties, said Little has made “an extraordinary contribution” to the health care community.
“He was the right person at the right time to help that organization get better organized and get access to more grant funding,” Locke said.
Little took on important projects at VIMO, Locke said, including a 2013 program called Access to Baby and Child Dentistry, which resulted in 48 children seeing a dentist for the first time last year.
Locke, who was one of Little's patients when Little was in private practice in Port Townsend, described Little as an “excellent dentist” who would be a “community asset” in dental clinics.
VIMO was born out of an initiative to improve health care access to Peninsula residents. The initiative was spearheaded by United Way of Clallam County.
“United Way was key in creating and launching the clinic because we recognized that it was a significant community need,” said Jody Moss, United Way of Clallam County executive director.
Moss said she was “a little surprised” when she was informed of Little's resignation last week.
“It happens that executive directors leave their positions, so I'm not unduly concerned,” Moss added.
“The work continues to be delivered there to community members. Nothing is really different.”
VIMO is one of United Way of Clallam County's 23 partner agencies.
“Larry is working with them on ensuring a smooth transition as well,” Moss said.
“We want to make certain they stay strong.”
Volunteer clinics, which start with good intentions, must ensure quality care, proper documentation, provider credentials and “making sure volunteers are competent to do things,” Locke said.
“Larry, being a health care provider himself, really understood that and brought that professionalism to the job,” Locke said.
Little recommended VIMO Clinic Manager Mary Hogan as interim director in a succession plan he prepared prior to his resignation.
No interim director has been appointed by the board.
“I can't emphasize enough how solid the staff up there is,” Little said.
Little vacated his seat on the Port Angeles City Council shortly after he took office in 2010 because his wife was battling cancer.
Health was not a factor in Little's decision to step down as VIMO director, he said.
“She's great,” Little said of Michelle.
The couple lived part time in Canada in the winters in recent years as their children pursued skiing interests.
They sold the Canada residence last year and live full time between Port Angeles and Sequim.
“We're happier than clams right now,” Little said.
The VIMO clinic is located at 909 E. Georgiana St.
Volunteers also provide dental services Monday at the VIMO Oral Health Center at the Armory Square building, 228 W. First St.
Now in its 11th year, the North Olympic Discovery Marathon is held the first Sunday in June.
This year's 26.2-mile marathon, half-marathon, relays and other events will be held June 1.
For information on VIMO, visit www.vimoclinic.org.
For information on the North Olympic Discovery Marathon, visit www.nodm.com.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.