Editorial: Medical facility continues growth

(Published by Jasper County Sun Times)

The health of our county’s residents continues to be a priority.

Two months after Bluffton Jasper Volunteers in Medicine opened an office in Ridgeland, this week a ribbon-cutting is set to welcome the facility’s introduction of free vision screenings.

At 3:30 p.m. Friday, the public will be welcomed to see the state-of-the-art ophthalmic equipment.

Thanks to donations from local Lion Clubs and other donors, county residents who need quality eye care will have a place to visit close to home.

The clinic will also help diagnose and treat some eye diseases. Hilton Head optometrist Dr. James Kondor will volunteer at the clinic. He helped raise more than $18,000 to get the vision center up and running.

Expect more good news this fall.

Executive Director Pam Toney said a primary care physician will be in Ridgeland in September for evening hours and in October a physician will be in Ridgeland during the day once a week.

The entire launch of the facility that offers free medical services has been exciting. The initial ribbon-cutting in June attracted hundreds of people and Toney said about 30 new patients have walked into the Ridgeland doors.

Instead of traveling to Bluffton, the initial paper work gets done in Jasper.

“Things are going very well,” Toney said. “The patients say, ‘We have been waiting for you.’”

And the community has helped. This summer Ridgeland resident and USC-Aiken student Junesha Taylor volunteered at the new facility. Mary Jane Richardson also volunteered. She’s from Ridgeland and used to volunteer in Bluffton, but once the new facility opened in Jasper, she made sure to help her home community.

Hopefully more help is on the way. BJVIM needs trained mental health specialists for both sites. Dr. Helen Stoller, a 25-year psychologist who volunteers at the clinic, is the only mental health professional on staff.

We applaud the community’s efforts and hope the facility continues to grow.

A fundraiser is set for Sept. 22 at September Oaks Vineyard in Ridgeland. For more information, call Toney at (843) 706-7090, ext 104.