HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) – “Our mission is to understand and serve the health and wellness needs of the medically underserved and their households, who live or work on Hilton Head and Daufuskie Islands.”
That was the original goal of Dr. Jack McConnell when he started Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) on Hilton Head Island 26 years ago.
Now his clinic will serve almost 30,000 people this year alone, handing out $13 million in medical services from 650 volunteers who put in 52,000 hours of patient services.
One of those patients was Gigi Sharper Moore. She was working in the 1990s when she first came to VIM but did not have any insurance. When they checked her diabetes, the numbers were over 1000.
The staff of volunteer, retired doctors sent her to the hospital and potentially saved her life.
Then almost two decades later Gigi came back when she found something “abnormal” in her breast. Even though she had insurance now, she felt most comfortable at VIM and came back to them for diagnosis first.
“Coming here meant more to me than anything because I knew everybody. It wasn’t like it was a secret. It is not a secret. But I knew they would take care of me. and I knew they would help me emotionally,” said Gigi.
When that test came back positive they helped get her on track to a double mastectomy, and the road to recovery.
“I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else. I’m glad I knew this place was here,” she said. “And I’m glad I knew all the things they did for people. because it is just like you run home to talk to mom or dad. that’s just what it’s like here.”
Gigi isn’t just a patient anymore. She’s moved on to being a volunteer and now a nursing assistant at the place she calls part of her family.
“It means everything to me. It defines who VIM is. They are family,” Gigi said. “I love my husband, I would probably do anything I need to for him but I have to be here. This is a lifeline for me.”
The volunteer said she’ll be at VIM for the rest of her life.
“I’m not going anywhere. We have some volunteers that are 90 and above. I’m going to be one of them,” she said, adding, “I just love this place. If you have a heart for people and a passion for people you have to be at a place like this.”
Volunteers in Medicine Hilton Head is holding its annual Circle of Caring Gala on November 23rd. If you are interested in attending you can find out more here.
If you would like to make a donation to this organization or need their help, just go to vimclinic.org.