The University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences inducted Bill Grimes, APRN, PA, into its Alumni Hall of Fame on April 19. Grimes, who is retired but still teaches part time at the College of Heath Sciences, is known for his legacy of compassionate care as both an educator and clinician.
“I am proud to welcome Bill into the College of Health Sciences Hall of Fame,” said Dean Scott M. Lephart, PhD. “I can personally attest to his commitment to the health care profession and educating future caregivers. He serves in an exemplary manner through his work with students and as the co-founder of New Hope Free Clinic, which seeks to alleviate financial burdens for patients.”
Born and raised in Chicago, Grimes moved to Kentucky in 1976. He holds multiple degrees including two associates, one in nursing and one in science; a B.S. in Science; B.H.S. in Health Science from the College of Health Sciences; a master’s in pastoral studies; and a Doctor of Ministry in health care ministry.
“My experience and work is in health science, but my attitude is that health care is a ministry,” Grimes said. “It’s caring for people in a different kind of way.” This calling led Grimes to co-found New Hope Free Clinic in Owingsville, Kentucky. According to Grimes, a burden for many patients stems from the attitude that business and payment in the medical profession is paramount, rather than care for the patient being the most essential factor.
“Poverty is a huge divider in our nation,” Grimes said. “Lack of health insurance is a crisis. In a small way, we started this free clinic to try and bridge gaps for people who otherwise could not afford medical care.”
Grimes distinctly remembers one of the first patients who planted the seed for New Hope’s beginning. “I was working at a regular clinic when a local patient I knew, a smoker, came in with a cough and other advanced symptoms,” he said. “I was fairly certain she had lung cancer. I gently asked her why she waited so long to seek medical care.”
Her answer still sticks with Grimes to this day. “She replied she had made an appointment a few months ago and was immediately asked upfront how she planned to pay for her visit,” he said. “This patient was so taken aback that she decided she would not return to the office until she collected enough money to be seen.”
The process to save up payment was a long one, and sadly, Grimes’s patient passed away within three months of his diagnosis. “It was difficult to watch that happen,” he said. “I knew then that I wanted to create another way for people with fewer financial means to seek help and care.”
Grimes attributes his experience as a clinician, and with New Hope, as his most helpful asset as an educator. “One of the things I always stress to my students is that we must be people who truly care,” he said. “What does care mean? For me, it means I treat patients with dignity and want what is best for them. I do everything I can to help them come to a better health and better life. It’s important for my students and all health care providers to remember that we must always keep the ‘care’ in health care.”