“May we have eyes to see those rendered invisible and excluded,
Open arms and hearts to reach out and include them,
Healing hands to touch their lives with love,
And in the process heal ourselves.”
Our primary mission is to understand and serve the health and wellness needs of the medically underserved population and their households, living and/or working on Hilton Head and Daufuskie Islands.
About Our Community and Our Clinic…
Volunteers In Medicine cares for some of the most medically underserved people in the Low Country, although Hilton Head Island, South Carolina is known throughout the world as a first-class resort and retirement destination. Until 1993, the year that Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) opened for service, every third person living on Hilton Head Island had no access to health care. Today, there are 132,000 uninsured children in South Carolina – more than one out of nine children in the state and 19.4 percent of the SC population is uninsured, well above the national average of 15.8 percent. The Lowcountry regions served by VIM have even higher rates ranging from around 20 percent in Beaufort County up to 27.4 percent in Jasper County.
We carry on the mission begun more than 20 years ago, when Hilton Head Island retiree Dr. Jack McConnell headed a group of 55 retired physicians, 68 retired nurses, chiropractors, social workers, dental assistants and over 100 retired lay volunteers in offering free health care to members of our community. The VIM Clinic building was constructed strictly with donated funds on land that the Town of Hilton Head agreed to lease for $1.00 per year. Eligibility for care requires only that the patient earn less than 200% of federal poverty guidelines, be uninsured or underinsured, and they must live or work on Hilton Head or Daufuskie Islands.
Strategic operating goals that were set at the onset continue to be relevant:
- Provide high quality outpatient healthcare for our qualified patient population.
- Attract, retain and develop quality staff, private specialist providers, volunteers and board members to achieve program and service objectives.
- Ensure that our facilities and program offerings are capable of properly serving those who come to us for care.
- Increase awareness of VIM and its positive impact on the community.
- Develop sufficient funding capability to meet the costs of providing VIM’s free medical care and support services.
- Utilize the best people, processes, controls and technology in order to deliver on our Mission Statement.
When VIM first opened its doors, it was primarily a walk-in clinic. By the end of that first year, the part-time clinic had seen over 1,000 patients. These patients were (and continue to be) the working poor of the community – not poor enough for Medicaid and not old enough for Medicare.
Today VIM Clinic is staffed by approximately 600 retired physicians, nurses, dentists, chiropractors, social workers, interpreters and lay persons. Last year, we conducted more than 30,000 Clinic visits. About 70 percent of our patients either work or are members of families where someone is employed. 85.2 percent of our contributed income goes directly to patient care and patients are not required to pay anything for their care. Today, VIM continues to be the only free and charitable medical clinic offering dental and mental healthcare south of the Broad River which divides Beaufort County in half.
Patient Support …
A majority of our patients are employed and support the clinic in a variety of ways. A “Green Team” of patient volunteers clean the clinic buildings daily, saving us nearly $30,000 in annual cleaning costs. All of the landscaping and yard maintenance is provided at no cost by a small landscaping company whose employees rely on the Clinic for care. This service saves close to $5,000 annually. Patient volunteers who work in construction keep the buildings maintained and make needed repairs free of charge.
The Hilton Head Island area’s primary industry is tourism. VIM’s patients are employed by approximately 1,375 local businesses. 71 percent of those businesses are directly related to tourism (food and beverage service, landscaping, housekeeping and retail).
Timely medical care can shorten the duration of symptoms of illness and return employees to work. VIM provides charitable health care to individuals who have no other access to treatment for an illness or an accident. Many local employers cannot afford the high cost of health insurance for their employees. Others offer health insurance if their employees are willing to pay for a portion but the cost may be prohibitive to the employee.
VIM’s treatment protocols today focus on maintaining wellness, educating patients regarding self-care, and monitoring patients to maintain their health so that they remain productive members of our community. In return, many of our local businesses support the Clinic in a variety of ways including cash donations and in kind services.
There are currently 23 medical specialties as well as five disease management clinics offered for patients with chronic disease. Most medications are provided free of charge or at a nominal fee. A Women’s Health Program which includes preventive care, healthy living education, PAP smears and screening mammograms was established and is supported with grants from funders such as Komen, Avon and Pfizer. There are weekly clinics for the treatment of specific diseases like asthma, hypertension, diabetes, and weight management.
While we see many patients who still walk in the door because they don’t feel well on a particular day, a large portion of our patient population is there because they have been diagnosed with a specific condition and are receiving follow-up care and treatment. We collaborate with many other non-profit agencies on the island to make sure that our patients receive the care they need, whether it is health related or not.
Patients requiring additional medical care or procedures outside the services of the Clinic are often referred to cooperating specialists and institutions in our region that provide low cost care through special agreements.
VIM receives income from several main sources: individual donations, special events, private foundations, bequests and in-kind donations. We neither seek nor are dependent on government funding.
VIM’s Board of Directors has approved a $2.2 million budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2016. Based on VIM’s FY 2015 budget report, approximately 85.2% of the funds raised by VIM are spent on patient care. VIM has been recognized by Charity Navigator for several years with a four-star rating.