October 25, 2014

Free clinics get $5.25 million from BCBSSC Foundation

Galloway, Berrier, SC DHHS Dir. Tony Keck, Bowen, Richland Sen. John Scott

The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation today promised $5.25 million to free medical clinics statewide. The money will be evenly distributed to clinics in the South Carolina Free Clinic Association over three years.

Harvey Galloway, the BCBSSC Foundation’s executive director says the clinics serve a critical function.

“They are a lifeline; they are part of the last resort of health safety providers in South Carolina. Think about it, the doctors, the nurses are volunteers who are coming in to help people. That is a critical piece of it. It’s the last line of defense before the emergency room,” says Galloway.

Volunteers in Medicine, a free clinic on Hilton Head Island, is served by more than 100 medical volunteers. Medical Director Frank Bowen says the money will not only help with basic operating expenses and will enable all of the clinics to share information. The grant will help the association set up a data sharing system.

“We’re going to have a collection of data so that we can have a combined database that is uniform amongst all the clinics so that we can share this and we can turn this information over to other important agencies in South Carolina, like the (SC) Hospital Association so they can realize how we can help these people,” says Bowen. “And if someone offers an opportunity to get a certain type of medicine and we can get it at a deep discount somewhere, that information can go out to all of us and we can all take advantage of it.”

“The source of most funding for the clinics is from their own communities,” says Amanda Berrier, the executive director of the South Carolina Free Clinic Association. “It’s been really difficult during the economic crisis.”

Berrier says clinics have seen donations go down while the patient load has doubled.

Berrier says BCBSSC is already a primary funder of the work of the 42 clinics statewide. She says the association’s goal now is to make sure the work they are doing is sustainable when this new grant ends in three years.

South Carolina Free Clinic Association Member Clinics:
United Christian Ministries- Abbeville
Community Medical Clinic of Aiken County
Anderson Free Clinic (+ Honea Path satellite)
Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic
Beaufort-Jasper VIM
Live Oak Free Health Clinic – Berkeley
Clemson Free Clinic
Community Impact for Christ – Dorchester
Community Initiatives, Inc. – Greenwood
Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County
Crisis Ministries Health Clinic – Charleston
Dillon Free Medical Clinic
Dream Center Clinic – N. Charleston
Edisto Indian Clinic – Dorchester
Free Medical Clinic of Darlington County
Free Medical Clinic of Newberry County
Friendship Medical Clinic (Conway)
Good Neighbor Free Medical Clinic – Beaufort
Good Samaritan Medical Clinic – Chester
Good Shepherd Free Clinic – Laurens County
Greenville Free Medical Clinic (+ 3 satellites)
Greenwood Free Clinic
Harvest Free medical Clinic – Charleston
Helping Hands Free Medical Clinic – Mullins
ICNA Relief Shifa Clinic – Mt. Pleasant
Joseph Sullivan Center – Clemson
Le Clinica Del Buen Samaritano – Richland/Lexington
Live Oak Free Health Clinic – Moncks Corner
Mercy Medicine Clinic – Florence
Mercy In Me Free Clinic – Chesterfield
Palmetto Volunteers in Medicine -Rock Hill
Peachtree Medical Clinic – Seneca
Rosa Clark Free Medical Clinic – Seneca
Samaritan Health Clinic of Pickens County
Smith Medical Clinic – Pawley’s Island
St. Luke’s Free Medical Clinic – Spartanburg
Sumpter Free Clinic – St. Stephens
Taylors Free Medical Clinic
The Free Medical Clinic, Inc. – Columbia
Volunteers in Medicine – Hilton Head Island
Woodruff Free Medical Clinic
The Early Learning Partnership of York County