Each month, BIFMC shines a spotlight on one of our many exceptional clinic volunteers. From medical staff to voluntary file clerks, Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic is able to provide a warm, caring and expert primary medical home to hundreds of uninsured patients. The residents and workers of our Lowcountry community are cared for and kept healthy due to the commitment of our volunteers.
This month, we award Dr. Robert Fenning!
Name: Dr. Robert Fenning
Specialty: Hematology. Oncology
Years served at BIFMC: 3
- How did you learn about BIFMC? Were you actively looking for volunteer opportunities at the time? I retired after 47 years of practice as a Professor Emeritus; 30 years with the University of North Carolina and 17 years with MUSC in the Hematology Oncology Division. My last retirement was in May 2014, and I began volunteering at BIMC in July of 2014. I also volunteer at a homeless clinic in Charleston 1-2 days per month. I had been aware of the Hilton Head Free Clinic for years and was first introduced to our clinic by Dr. Arthur Booth. He recently died, but was an amazing individual and physician and was very much involved in the evolution and development of the clinic. I had no intention of retiring at the age of 80, so I was excited at the chance to volunteer at BIFMC.
- What is it about BIFMC’s mission that appeals to you personally? The clinic is important because there is a need in the Lowcountry for a place to help people who have fallen through the cracks. And secondly, I wanted to have the opportunity to work with so many dedicated volunteers.
- How has volunteer work had an impact on your life? The volunteer work has impacted me in many ways. First of all, I feel that too many highly qualified physicians and nurses retire or stop offering their expertise and dedicated compassion too soon. Secondly, I feel that this type of professional volunteering is beneficial to the individual in order to keep us alert and knowledgeable so that we can be of help to our patients.
- What would you say is the biggest misconception about those who cannot afford health insurance? As I mentioned above, many of these people are hard working but “fell through the cracks.” The uninsured, for the most part, share the same desires and plans for their lives as everyone else. And less we forget; “There but for the grace of God go I.”
- What advice would you give to those considering volunteering their time or donating a gift to the clinic? Many physicians who I have known and have recently retired have inquired about BIFMC, and I encourage them to take the step and volunteer. I was with MUSC, and had minimal contact with Roper-St.Francis Hospital and their physicians, but have been so impressed and overwhelmed by their support. And of course, I have the pleasure of working with Dr. Hayes and Dr. Ulmer, not to mention our great nurses – and cooky Queen! Though I am moving to Greenville, SC, in the near future, I have already made contact with the free clinic in Greenville.
Thank you, Dr. Fenning, for your compassion, time, and service to the community – and best of luck on your next adventure! We will miss you!
If you know and would like to nominate a current BIFMC volunteer, please contact us; To thank a volunteer, please share this spotlight via social media!
If you would like to learn more about how you can volunteer for Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic, click here.
Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic provides medical care to eligible patients, just like any family practitioner or internist – but it is free. We serve uninsured adults living at or below 200 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, Wadmalaw or James Islands. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.