Article by Dan Hunt, Courtesy of BlufftonToday.com
Greater Bluffton Jasper County Volunteers in Medicine (BJVIM) is moving in to a new permanent Bluffton home at 29 Plantation Business Park, Units 601-604.
Pam Toney, executive director of the nonprofit caregiver, said the clinic was renting its old location at 1 Burnt Church Rd. She became concerned when she learned the building had been sold.
“We had been looking for some months. I didn’t think we were in a position to buy anything; I didn’t think we had the money,” she said.
Toney and other volunteers presented their needs to the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, which subsequently donated $120,000 to BJVIM. Toney said the organization received another substantial donation from Palmetto Electric Cooperative, among others.
“They thought it was the right time for us,” Toney said. “And it’s been wonderful because people have been really supportive with their donations to help us remodel.
“The community seems to be really excited that we’ve got a place of our own and I think that adds stability to our organization in the fact that we’ve got a wonderful building that’s ours.”
BJVIM volunteers began the move Thursday and Toney said she hopes the new location is operational by Monday.
BJVIM has been providing medical care on a volunteer basis to the uninsured community of Bluffton and Jasper County since 2011. The organization currently has 92 medical and non-medical volunteers.
Volunteers in Medicine has 90 locations nationwide, including one in Ridgeland.
The clinics offer free medical exams, counseling and nutritional services, as well as preventative disease education. The greater Bluffton and Jasper County clinic sees more than 2,000 patients.
The move “is so exciting for especially our patients, but also our volunteers. They’ve got a lovely building from which to volunteer,” Toney said.
She said the new building is far more practical for patients and volunteers.
“We have patients that walk or ride their bicycles. This, I think, is a safer location for them to do that. When we were on Burnt Church Road and U.S. 278, we were always worried about our patients in traffic,” she said.
“We have a wonderful pharmacy now. Before, our pharmacy was in a closet. Now, we have a designated room with a pharmacy. And our nurse’s station is much larger. So we’ll be able to do some additional lab work that we weren’t able to do before.”
Toney added that all of the clinic’s services are on one level now as opposed to two at the Burnt Church Road location.
There’s simply more room to operate across the board.
“Some of our support staff were sharing offices,” Toney said. “We had four or five groups sharing the same offices. We’ll still have some sharing, but not anything like that.
“We have much more office space and we have more exam rooms so we can expand our services. And we were congested at the front desk and now we’re able to have two areas where people are able to check in and check out.”
BJVIM hopes to host a ribbon-cutting for the new location on Sept. 28 and an open house at a similar date, but Toney said those timeframes aren’t yet official.
The director said the organization is always looking for more funding and volunteers. There are jobs for just about everyone, regardless of experience in the field, such as operating phone lines.
The clinic currently doesn’t have an operating phone line because of the move, but those interested in volunteering can email coordinator Peggy Pantano at email@example.com. Interested volunteers and those in need of medical care can find more information at bjvim.org.
The phones are working and we are open for business! Thank you to everyone who worked to make this happen!