A free medical clinic could be on its way to Jasper County.
The Bluffton Jasper Volunteers in Medicine, which offers medical services free of charge to individuals who qualify based on income, currently serves Jasper residents but according to Executive Director for the BJVIM clinic Pam Toney, the organization hopes to expand in the next few years to reach an even bigger client base.
“We have 450 patients from Jasper that come to us, but one of the big issues is transportation,” Toney said. “So they’re just not able to get to us to make appointments. We realized the need to have a physical presence in Jasper County and we’re working on that.”
Toney said before BJVIM can have that physical presence, it needs to make sure that people know about the company and what it does.
The clinic offers gynecological services, general medicine, cardiology, endocrinology, diabetic care, and nutrition. All services are offered in-house, but there have been some instances where the clinic has had to refer patients out for services.
“And we have grants to help cover the cost of those services,” Toney said. “And then we also have a nurse that specifically negotiates prices for different procedures, for instance MRI’s or cat scans, lab work, mammograms.”
The clinic does not take walk-ins. You must be a patient, qualifying at up to 250 percent of the poverty level. Those numbers do vary.
The Bluffton Jasper Volunteers in Medicine was founded in 2010 when Jennifer Brown, a former business owner and volunteer at the Hilton Head Volunteers in Medicine clinic, recognized the need for a free clinic that would serve the town of Bluffton and Jasper County.
She began working to raise the funds and stimulate interest in the community for such a clinic.
Brown was often met with resistance, but continued to work. Her daughter Monique helped to bring the idea into fruition and they opened the first clinic on S.C. 46 in Bluffton.
The clinic is now located at Burnt Church Road off of Fording Island Road (U.S. 278) in Bluffton and treated its 2,000th patient in February.
The clinic is run completely by volunteers, having a staff of physicians, nurses, lab technicians, administrative positions, and a board of directors who dedicate their time and professional medical care to patients free of charge.
There are only three and a half paid positions.
Toney said the clinic could always use more volunteers.
“What would be nice is if we did have some people from Jasper County that would come and volunteer here,” Toney said. “While I know that it’s a long distance, they would see how things are run here so then when we’re able to gain a presence in Jasper County, they would have an understanding of how we run things.”
Toney said after building a facility in Jasper, she believes BJVIM could serve up to 1,300 patients specifically from Jasper.
A night of fun
BJVIM will hold a fundraiser in Ridgeland on June 27 at September Oaks from 6 p.m.- 9 p.m.
The event is open to the public and tickets cost $50 each.
Tickets can be purchased at Blossom’s on Main, The Outpost, and All Print Custom Tees, all located in downtown Ridgeland.
“There will be barbecue, and live entertainment and there’s a little rumor going around that Elvis will be in the house,” Toney said. “Also we’ll have a silent auction. And the net proceeds of this will go toward patient services.”
The goal for the night is $15,000. Last year’s event raised $12,000.
Sponsors for this year’s event include Sheffield Oil, Attorney Daniel Henderson, the Bank of Walterboro, and Nimmer Turf. Little Boy’s BBQ will provide dinner.
For more information, call Toney at 706-7090 ext. 104