From Patient To Volunteer: The Desire To Give Back

“If it wasn’t for Volunteers In Medicine, I would still be walking with a cane,” says Michael T. Henry, owner of Sound Engineering, an electronics repair business.

Since 1993, Michael has owned his own business, and he’s also deeply connected to the local music scene, having booked bands for events like the Eugene Celebration and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and running stage management for others. Michael made the arrangements for music at VIM’s Volunteer Appreciation event held this September.

As a small businessman, Michael has never had medical insurance because of the high cost.

“What I did before was try not to get sick,” he says. “I just would treat myself as best I could because there was nowhere to go.” Because of his income, Michael did not qualify for the Oregon Health Plan.

When Michael came to VIM because of a growth on his cheek, a blood test led to a diagnosis of diabetes. Through VIM’s Diabetes Education and Management Program, patients such as that he get lifestyle counseling to support adjustments in lifestyle and eating habits for better management of the disease.

Patients also get free testing strips, other supplies, and medicines they need to manage their disease, but these can cost hundreds of dollars each month.
There was a bigger problem Michael had been living with for years- a knee injury that left him hobbled, often laid up from the pain, and walking with a cane.

“I was using a cane all the time before the surgery, for almost two and half years. I was in constant pain and flat on my back, living on the couch, literally, for eight weeks after the wrenching,” Michael says.

VIM worked as his liaison to get him the specialty care he needed, and in September 2010, he had arthroscopic surgery.

“My knee is fine, and I can go backpacking again, and that’s why I moved here,” he says. “I finally put the cane away. It sits by the front door.”

Michael’s love for hiking was on hold for years, even as he lived up the McKenzie River. When he moved to Springfield last December, one of the first things he did was sign up to volunteer at VIM. Michael has volunteered as a screener for almost a year, reviewing paperwork to ensure individuals are eligible for our services.

“These people at VIM have done so much for me; this is the least I can do,” Michael says. “I can’t afford to make donations, but I can certainly give them some of my time.”