Our first hero…
It all started with a simple question at the dining room table when Dr. Jack McConnell was young. His father, a Baptist preacher, would ask his children “What have you done for someone today?” As Dr. McConnell retired to Hilton Head Island with his wife, he continued to ask himself this question and he recognized a problem. “Jack would ask why someone wasn’t doing something about access to healthcare for the one-third of our neighbors who did without,” says Mrs. McConnell, “he finally realized that he was talking to himself.”
Dr. Jack’s vision was deceptively simple – to satisfy the overwhelming need for access to free health care through the skills and expertise of the highly skilled retired physicians, nurses and laypeople already living on Hilton Head. When VIM Clinic opened almost 30 years ago, it was the first of its kind in the nation, and since then, Hilton Head Island has become a community that offers every resident access to health care.
Today, there are nearly 100 clinics based on our model around the country and Dr. Jack has been honored on national, state and local levels. “It is a very special place,” described Dr. Jack. “Many of our physicians call it their home away from home and they would be lost without it. That also holds true for the patients who come here. They too would be lost without it. It’s not where you come from or where you’re going, but who you help along the way that makes a difference in your life,” said Dr. McConnell.
Dr. Jack’s inspiration is felt here on a daily basis. Sick patients are being treated, wellness education is offered, prevention and healthful living is stressed, and hundreds of volunteers enrich their own lives by making Dr. Jack’s vision an ongoing reality.