HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WSAV) – After 50 years in the medical profession, the head of Hilton Head Volunteers in Medicine’s time is coming to an end with the organization.

When Volunteers in Medicine started 28 years ago on Hilton Head Island, Dr. Jack McConnell came up with its mission, and the “circle of caring”.

It is something Dr. Ray Cox says holds true even today. It is the key to making vim a great place for patients and medical professionals alike.

“The feeling of joy you get walking in the door is just as strong as when I walked in 8 years ago,” says Dr. Cox.

That’s why Dr. Ray Cox walked around the halls of VIM during his last week with a smile on his face.

“I have really come to love this place and what it means to the community but also the people who work here, they are just absolutely wonderful folks,” smiles Dr. Cox.

Dr. Cox says he promised the board when he first came to VIM that he would stay seven years.

“I never really memorized the mission and vision of anyplace that I have ever worked, but I memorized it the first week I was here because I was so impressed.”

Now eight years later, he has made it through a financial crisis, hurricane damage, and his biggest challenge, the pandemic.

VIM on Hilton Head Island sees 27,000 patients a year, providing $10 million in free medical services all by volunteer doctors and nurses.

Dr. Cox believes he is leaving Vim with a stronger management team, in a better financial position, and with better infrastructure, including a new roof and a future larger parking lot.

Cox doesn’t take credit himself, instead of saying VIM’s success is based on the generosity of the community and the spirit of the patients treated and the staff which makes it great.

“The reason this place works so well is that volunteers come from across the political spectrum, “PIP’s” – previously important people. These are people who were most part successful in their lives and being able to leave those egos at the door and work toward a common goal and common vision is incredibly important.”

“I think people tend to forget that healing takes place on both sides of that equation,” says Dr. Cox. “It’s not just healing the patient, it’s healing yourself in terms of the joy you get from knowing you are helping.”

“The things that have a tendency to get in our way, when we are trying to take care of our patients those things don’t exist here,” continues Cox. “A lot of the problems with our health care system don’t exist here. So that physicians and nurses and everyone else who walks in here can truly focus on helping patients. I wish there was some way to bottle it and sell it.”

“Their giving nature the joy they bring to not only the work they do here but the community as a whole is what makes this place so special.”

Dr. John Newman, former Chief Medical Officer at Aurora Medical Center in Wisconsin will be succeeding Dr. Cox when he leaves officially Friday.

Cox says he now plans to take a long, well-earned vacation. Then come back to VIM in the future, as a volunteer practicing doctor. www.vimclinic.org