The Greater Bluffton Jasper County Volunteers in Medicine clinics in both Bluffton and Ridgeland are open and serving more patients now than ever. The hospitals are referring patients to the clinic twice as frequently as pre-pandemic, and there is an increased need for mental health counseling.

As a result, BJVIM and its patients need more volunteers.

BJVIM sees an average of 100 patients a week and requires a minimum of 67 volunteers per week to operate; this includes administrative staff, doctors and nurses.

“We’ve lost some volunteer doctors, at least those willing to come into the clinic for now,” said Pam Toney, executive director of BJVIM. “Most of our volunteers are retired, which automatically puts them in a high-risk group due to age. Currently we have five doctors in the clinic and five helping with telemedicine from home.”

The commitment for a volunteer is a four-hour shift, two times a month.

BJVIM has stepped up to continue to serve its patients throughout the pandemic – filling prescriptions and calling patients when the clinic was closed during the “shelter in place” times.

Many Beaufort and Jasper County residents have lost medical insurance, due to loss of jobs. Therefore, the need for healthcare has remained a critical issue, even more so than before.

As elsewhere in our communities, even with bad news, there are still good stories to share, as our community adapts to this new normal.

• BJVIM is now offering telemedicine appointments to patients. This has been so successful that Toney expects this service to continue.

• BJVIM has implemented new, easier procedures for patients picking up prescription drugs.

• BJVIM has provided gift cards for purchase of food to some patients, and they work closely with Bluffton Self Help when needed.

• Through generous grants, the clinic has been able to provide blood pressure monitors and glucometers to patients, so that they can monitor these vital stats from home.

• Many community residents have donated hundreds of masks to the clinic, which have been given to patients.

• BJVIM volunteers and staff have participated in two drive-up COVID-19 testing sites in partnership with local hospitals.

• In collaboration with Americares and Walgreens, free flu vaccines are being provided.

BJVIM conducts a monthly Volunteer Orientation session on the third Thursday of each month at the Bluffton location. Anyone interested in volunteering with BJVIM can call the clinic at 843-706-7090 or email coordinator Shelley Martin at smartinbjvim@gmail.com.

BJVIM’s Bluffton facility is located at 29 Plantation Business Park, Units 601-604. The second office is located in Ridgeland at 11332 N. Jacob Smart Blvd.

For more information, visit bjvim.org.