Improving rural health is a key focus for the University of South Carolina College of Nursing, which has initiatives in place to address rural health disparities, improve mental health access and respect cultural differences in health care decision making.
Leigh Pate is a clinical instructor of nursing at USC Lancaster and volunteers at the Community Medical Clinic in Camden. She told South Carolina Radio Network that most of the people who visit the clinic don’t have health insurance or the means to pay. “We have many partnerships with other specialties that allow our patients to be seen for free or a minimal charge,” said Pate
When it began in 1998, the free clinic operated one day per week, but soon expanded to four. Now the clinic, run almost entirely by nurse practitioners, offers medical services at North Central middle and high schools and at four satellite sites in Kershaw County.
Pate said residents in rural areas of the state are more likely to be hospitalized for and die from certain health conditions, including congestive heart failure, cancer, diabetes and stroke. “The goal of the Community Medical Clinic is to provide health care to the under-served in Kershaw County. Which is located in a rural area,” Pate said.
USC’s College of Nursing is also part of a team effort among government agencies and nonprofit organizations to improve health care in Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties.