BLUFFTON, SC. (WTOC) - When members of the Lowcountry community fall through the cracks in the healthcare system, the Greater Bluffton-Jasper Volunteers in Medicine are there to pick them back up.
The free clinic in Bluffton provides medical attention to residents who cannot otherwise afford it.
"We always think of this beautiful area as being such an affluent area,’’ said Pam Toney, Executive Director of Volunteers in Medicine. “But we also have people who are also in need. Over 50 percent of our patients do work, so this is a working poor that is just not able to get health insurance at the moment.’’
However, they are able to get their medical needs met because dozens of doctors and nurses volunteer thousands of hours every year to provide much needed services.
"It takes 67 volunteers each week to operate our clinic, which is amazing,’’ Toney said. “We have primary care services, endocrinology, gynecology, cardiology, and then we have a pharmacy.’’
"There is a list of about 150 generics that we are able to give them and we are expanding rapidly,’’ added Sanford Foreman, a pharmacist who donates his time at Volunteers in Medicine. “We’d like to get some more pharmacists here if there are any of you at home who would like to donate your time.’’
The WTOC Community Champions who have donated their time to Volunteers in Medicine for 27 years have helped generations in the Lowcountry.
"I’ve been a doctor for 62 years, and I have really enjoyed helping people work through their problems,’’ said Dr. Harold Cross, who has been with Volunteers in Medicine almost since it began in the Lowcountry in 1992. “This is just another opportunity to continue to do that. In a way, it’s occupational therapy for me. I love connecting with people in all walks of life, and this is just color blind. It’s a joy to do that.’’
"In order for a community to grow and be prosperous,’’ added Toney, “our members need to be well, and these volunteers realize the need to help those in need.’’
Volunteers in Medicine is funded entirely by donations and grants. The Lowcountry location was the first of its kind and is now one of 88 Volunteers in Medicine offices nationwide.