The Free Medical Clinic founder set to retire

By  | 

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. A Knoxville doctor who fled from North Korea as a child and helped more than 16,000 patients will retire at the end of 2019.

Dr. Kim talks with his volunteer staff (Source: WVLT)

"I will be 75 in December," said Dr. Tom Kim, the founder of The Free Medical Clinic.

Doctor Tom Kim takes care of patients who are uninsured and in need of care. Patients must be American citizens or green card holders between 16 and 64 years-old, who are working or have a spouse who is working.

But in December he will step down from his practice.

"Before you make some kind of mistake mentally, physically you--we have to know when to stop," said Kim.

One of his volunteer nurses, Julie Bliss, said she was sad to see him go.

"Him being a pillar of this community, offering his free service for over 20 years does mean there's going to be a big gap in our medical community," said Bliss.

He's going to spend time with his family and maybe travel overseas.

"But I am going to fishing, fly fishing, once a week, at least once a week. I am going to do that. That's my hobby now," said Kim.

He said it's bittersweet for him and his patients.

"I told them you don't want a grumpy old man anymore. You want to have a young doctor. They say no no no I want an old man," laughed Kim.

The clinic will remain open.

"It's going to be staying the free medical clinic of America in Knoxville," said Kim.

They're in talks with a which medical group will take over his practice.

Dr. Kim has physical medical records now, when the new group takes over the plan is to convert them to electronic medical records.

Copyright 2019 WVLT. All rights reserved.