Great Music and a Really Great Cause

How Phish is helping those who help others


Phish and WaterWheel Team Up with Volunteers in Medicine

Dr. Jack McConnell is well known among Phish fans for his frequent appearances on-stage with the band starting back in 1993 in Charlotte, NC. What fans may not be aware of is the tremendous work Jack has done through Volunteers in Medicine.

Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) is a national organization that assists local communities in the development of free health care clinics for the uninsured.  VIM has assisted nearly 100 communities launch free clinics to date.

Jack McConnell has a long history working in the field of medicine. Trained as a Pediatrician, he went on to have a distinguished career in the pharmaceutical industry where he played an integral role in the launch of Tylenol, the development of the TB Tine Test , the development of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology, and numerous other life-changing medical products and technologies.

Dr. Jack McConnell dances on stage with Phish

In 1989, he and his wife Mary Ellen retired to Hilton Head, South Carolina. A beautiful coastal setting, Hilton Head’s well-to-do population is surrounded by neighboring working class communities. Jack soon recognized the disparity in access to health care between those living on island vs. those who came to the island to work and provide services.

“It was not until I stopped saying ‘Someone should look into this problem’ and realized I was speaking to myself that it really turned around,” McConnell said.

Taking the bull by the horns, Jack developed a vision for launching a free medical clinic; with his guidance, Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) opened its doors in 1994. Staffed entirely by retired doctors, nurses and community volunteers, the clinic became a model for how to bring together two groups to create a community.

“At the outset we had two disparate constituencies, one fairly well off and one not well off at all,” he said. “[With the clinic], we are transforming our town into a community where everyone cares for everyone else — not only cares for but cares about everyone else. At the deepest level, it’s about transforming lives and transforming communities.”

“It was not until I stopped saying ‘Someone should look into this problem’ and realized I was speaking to myself that it really turned around,” McConnell said.

 

In response to requests from other communities for help in replicating the VIM model, Jack created the Volunteers in Medicine national office which provides consulting services on how to successfully plan and open a VIM clinic. Since 1996, Volunteers in Medicine has helped nearly 100 communities launch a free health care clinic, and currently has a pipeline of over 20 communities working toward opening a sustainable VIM clinic.