Volunteers in Medicine gala goes virtual


The coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep across the country — and Hilton Head Island is certainly no exception. Especially hard hit are the patients of Volunteers in Medicine HHI, 10,000 people living and/or working here without health insurance. 

Many are on the front lines — landscapers, food and beverage employees, housecleaners, retail store workers, deliverers and others who keep the island and its economy humming.  For them, social distancing is often not available. They and their families are virus-vulnerable.  This summer, nearly a third of the 600 VIM patients who were tested for COVID-19 tested positive.

 VIM story

The health care of the island’s most at-risk patient population is being provided by another at-risk group, the more than 650 VIM volunteers, the vast majority over the age of 65. 

“VIM is incredibly fortunate to have this small army of volunteers who are committed to meeting our mission.  This is a critical time to keeping our working community healthy, and VIM’s volunteers are heroes in our midst who are dedicated to keeping our less fortunate neighbors healthy during this pandemic,” said VIM Executive Director Dr. Raymond Cox.

Founded in 1993, the clinic provides free health care to low-income patients in everything from internal medicine to radiology to dental care, as well as supplying more than $2 million per year in prescription medication. 

One of VIM’s biggest annual fundraisers, the Circle of Caring Gala, was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, leaving a hole of $250,000 at a time when the need for VIM’s services is greater than ever.  With the spike of unemployment, furloughs, and lost wages, many more people are eligible for VIM’s services and will rely on the clinic to stay healthy.

Instead of the traditional gala, VIM is hosting a virtual gala as a way for supporters to help fund the vital service VIM provides in the community. On Oct. 30, an email appeal featuring a message from Dr. Cox went out to all previous VIM supporters.  They, and anyone else responding with a donation of $50 or more, will be emailed a link to a VIM-exclusive one-hour concert by one of Hilton Head’s most popular bands, Deas Guyz.

In addition, more than a dozen couples who have been gala table hosts are this year holding small, socially-distanced “bubble parties.”

“We’re calling these bubble parties because the hosts invite eight to 10 people in their social bubble and we supply some bubbly—three bottles of Prosecco for each event,” said gala co-chair Kaye Black.

To donate to VIM and receive the Deas Guyz concert link, visit www.vimclinic.org and click on the Donate Now! link under the Circle of Caring 2020 Gala logo.