Michael Rolfsen – … a person of character

Considering, he saw a great need in our community, and he did something about it. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when doctors and nurses were serving the uninsured in shelters throughout the city, this internal medicine physician was overwhelmed by the injustice of the health care system. He envisioned corralling philanthropically inclined providers into a working organization. Volunteer Health Corps emerged.

Considering, his can-do spirit along with his many connections and relationships at hospitals and facilities throughout the area helped secure the needed public and private partnerships to establish VHC in 2006. Today, the nonprofit organization minimizes delays in treatment for the uninsured while improving access to care for people with urgent ailments. The goal is to minimize the use of emergency rooms for chronic health problems.

Considering, he has a passion for assisting people. “Certainly, doctors do care and want to help. But, in addition, the patients are extremely grateful. They know we aren’t getting paid, and they are so very thankful. We are making a difference to people who really have a need.”

Considering, his ultimate desire for VHC is that it will one day be a thing of the past. “I would love for this service to no longer be needed, to put ourselves out of a job.”

Considering, his enthusiasm is contagious. He brings camaraderie to everything he does.

Considering, he has a special interest in bioethics. He returned to school to obtain a master’s degree in bioethics from Loyola in Chicago and, in addition to his private practice, teaches a bioethics class at LSU. He serves on the ethics board at Our Lady of the Lake and Woman’s hospitals and chairs the ethics board at Baton Rouge General.

Considering, he has served on numerous boards in Baton Rouge throughout the years, including those of the Louisiana Art & Science Museum, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, the Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Considering, he now dedicates his time to Teach For America. “I have been so overwhelmed and impressed by the dedication and work of my own daughter (currently serving TFA in Charlotte, N.C.) as well as the other TFA members I have met. I truly believe that if we could ‘fix education,’ the other problems in our community would disappear or dramatically decrease.”

Considering, he has been married to Jeanette for 28 years and has five children, the youngest of whom is leaving for college. The members of this close-knit family support each other. “My family is what matters most to me in life, and I guess one of the reasons I am involved in various community activities is to try to help make a better Baton Rouge for them to live in.”

Editor Ashley Sexton Gordon nominates a person of character from the Baton Rouge community each month. [email protected]