Page McConnell, Phish’s ivory-tinkler extraordinaire and all-around nice guy, is coming to the Orange Peel this Friday, June 8. Having had the pleasure to hang with the guy on a few occasions backstage after gigs, it’s nice to see him putting together his own act.
But I come not to praise Page, but rather his dad, Jack McConnell. I do this in part because Father’s Day looms, and Jack, in a sense, was like a father figure to me in a small but meaningful way when I knew him. At the time, I was a resident of and newspaper reporter in Hilton Head Island, S.C. (And he could also be counted on to get up on stage with Phish whenever they came down to the S.C. Lowcountry and sing a mean version of “Sweet Georgia Brown” to the delight of 10,000 stoners).
Mainly, though, Jack deserves recognition for an incredible life of service — and especially for a great idea that current and retired health-care professionals in Asheville and the rest of WNC could take heed of (especially all those retired docs clogging up area golf courses).
You see, Jack, a retired pediatrician who hails from nearby east Tennessee and who also developed such things as Tylenol and a widely used tuberculosis test, and spearheaded the enabling legislation in Congress that created the Human Genome Project, is a pioneer. But of all his accomplishments, perhaps his greatest is Hilton Head’s Volunteers in Medicine Clinic. He got retired, able-bodied doctors, nurses and others to get off their collective duffs and back into the office practicing pure medicine on those who have no insurance. The result? Virtually every uninsured person who works, lives or worships on the island and the surrounding area now has access to free, top-notch health care.
And since Buncombe County has around 38,000 uninsured persons, it’s an idea that the local health-care establishment might ought to examine as retirees from various health fields move here en masse.
For more details, check out this article.
And, in the meantime, Happy Father’s Day, Dr. Jack.
— Hal L. Millard, staff writer