Hearts of determination; determination of steel.
Story by Luana M. Graves Sellars + Photography by Lloyd Wainscott
Doctors have good hearts. It seems there is a certain genetic code that doctors have that generally makes them selfless and caring. The average doctor spends a career in serving others, and many retire to play rounds of golf or tennis. Volunteers In Medicine doctors are different. Their dedication to patient care extends their desire to help patients far past a typical retirement date.
Two VIM doctors have unique stories that are perfect examples of kind and giving hearts. They also overcame physical obstacles in order to fol- low their dreams of working in medicine. Being a doctor requires stamina and the ability to handle arduous training and schedules. Being a disabled doctor requires an additional strength and determination that is a rare characteristic.
Dr. Bob Brown is an infectious disease specialist and graduate of Willis Hershey Medical School who heads the flu vaccination program at VIM. Dr. Roger Sorg is a pathologist and graduate of College of Osteopathic Medicine. Both doctors experienced significant medical issues at young ages, however, they did not allow their physical challenges to derail or hinder their careers.
Dr. Rob Brown
As a 28-year-old, Brown said he had “a functioning brain, but his body was shot” after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage while playing squash. As a result, the physical limitations that he experienced did not disrupt his determination to continue his path in medicine. For most of his career, Brown worked a full schedule because, he said that he is “not big on disability; I produce, therefore I am.”
Training as an internist and infectious disease specialist, Brown worked 60- to 70-hour work weeks in hospital infection control, diagnosing various ailments. When he retired at 58, Brown came to Hilton Head, specifically to join VIM, because he “wanted to keep my fingers in medicine.” Brown has worked at the clinic for 12 years and describes it as “a relaxed and low-stress way to do medicine.”
Regardless of the chronic pain he experiences, Brown still spends two days a week at VIM for consultations. Credited as the first infectious disease specialist on the Island when he arrived, his work at VIM has been an incredible addition to the clinic because “a lot of medical issues might have gone undiagnosed if I wasn’t here,” Brown said.
Dr. Roger Sorg
Dr. Roger Sorg suffered a life-changing accident as a gymnast that resulted in a broken back and the need for crutches since age 17. An injury such as that could have destroyed his spirit and desire to succeed. However, Sorg had other plans. His determination to become a doctor provided him with an interesting scenario. What medical discipline could he chose that would enable him to utilize his analytical mind, and at the same time not be hindered by his physicality? The answer proved to be a career as an anatomic pathologist, which is the preferred, more academic discipline.
“Pathology is like being a doctor’s doctor. We find out why people die and the reasons behind their death,” Sorg said.
After his career, which included being the Beaufort County Coroner and teaching pathology, Sorg developed a solid reputation for being able to solve a lot of cases that were not easily explained or because of a sudden death. Most recently, Sorg helped with the examination of bones discovered at the Zion Cemetery. “They still bring bones to my house when they can’t figure out something,” he said.
Originally from Dayton, Sorg came to VIM at its inception. While at VIM, his pathology skills gave him special problem-solving abilities as a general practitioner who specialized in diabetes. Sorg also was responsible for inspecting other VIM locations and free clinics to verify their quality control measures and to ensure that the VIM model remained consistent nationwide.