STUART — Having health insurance is helpful, but some people can’t afford it. Unfortunately these people continue living their lives without a protection plan. They’re unaware of the services they’re eligible for until someone informs them. When you’re helping the community sometimes outreach is essential. It makes a difference when your presence is seen and you’re interacting with people in the public.

John O’Rourke is one of many who spent seven years without health care. He lives in his truck with a limited income and with an inconsistent job. O’Rourke had numerous health issues, but could never find help. A few years ago, he broke his leg and it had to heal on its own due to not having health insurance. He also had a cyst on his arm for the past 12 years that was hazardous to his health.

“It was like a big pimple and about a month and a half before, I wake up and it was burning. It felt like someone hit me in the arm with a torch. It got infected and it would have poisoned my blood stream,” said O’Rourke.

O’Rourke attended the St. Joseph Catholic Church soup kitchen and heard of Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) Clinic. He was so intrigued about the clinic, that the next day he walked in and became a patient. He was relieved that there was an organization that could treat his health for free.

“I just figured, I need medical assistance and I’m going to try this. I had all the information that they needed for them to be able to help me,” said O’Rourke. “I was very happy. When you’re hurt, you are going to be happy that there’s a doctor who can help you.”

He says VIM’s outreach efforts has benefited him tremendously, because he wouldn’t have known it existed. O’Rourke doesn’t believe he would have survived his health condition if he never knew of VIM.

“What can you do without health insurance? If you go to the hospital, they might prescribe you something but you can’t afford it. You still have to live with it and it just keeps getting worse and worse,” said O’Rourke.

O’Rourke is originally from Pittsburgh, but he moved to Martin County in 2013. He works odd jobs for money. Since he’s become a patient, his health has made a turn for the better.

The VIM Clinic provides free comprehensive medical care to uninsured Martin County residents. Individuals must have an income of $24,120 or less to qualify. For additional information, call 772-463-4128.