One of the best parts of living in a small, open-minded, creative community like the Berkshires is watching the evolution of a variety of nonprofit organizations who bring vital services to the people who live and work here. The Berkshire chapter of Volunteers in Medicine (VIM), located in Great Barrington, is one of these nonprofits, and we’re honored to have them in our backyard.
Founded in 1991, VIM came about when Dr. Jack McConnell of Hilton Head, South Carolina, had a brainstorm: what if retired physicians could be brought in to clinics to serve uninsured patients, offering necessary health-care services to those patients while also giving doctors interesting, engaging work to focus on? Fourteen years later, there are 86 VIM clinics in 25 states, which see more than 400,000 patient visits per year.
VIM Berkshires was established in 2004, with the mission of providing quality, respectful health care to income-qualified, uninsured or underinsured residents. The staff is all volunteer, and the physicians and nurse practitioners are a mix of retired and employed. They provide free medical, dental, mental health, optometry, acupuncture, diabetic and nutritional counseling, and extensive case management services for a whopping 3,500 patient visits per year. Incredible, right?
What’s more, VIM Berkshires is entirely funded by private donations (want to make one and help dozens of people?), and raises more than $600,000 annually from businesses, individuals, and foundations—all of which goes back to operating the clinic and providing supplies and pharmaceuticals to patients in need. On August 13, VIM will hold its annual summer gala, a Mardi Gras party hosted by Ski Butternut. The VIM volunteers have outdone themselves this year, and in addition to cocktails and dinner, the gala will feature live Dixieland music, dancing, an auction, and a wine pull raffle. To be part of the fun—and support a worthwhile cause—call 413-528-4014.