Joseph F. Sullivan Center and Samaritan Health Clinic to increase services and patients served at outreach program
After a successful start in late February, the Joseph F. Sullivan Center and Samaritan Health Clinic plan to offer more to patients at their next collaborative outreach clinic on March 29. The clinic’s primary focus is on providing health screenings and annual gynecological exams to female patients.
The first joint clinic was held on Feb. 23 at the Samaritan Health Clinic in Easley. According to Tobias Vogel, director of the Samaritan Health Clinic, this collaboration allowed Clemson University students and Sullivan Center staff to work through a backlog of patients, but it also revealed what could be improved in future clinics.
“It was a ‘soft start,’ but we were allowed to see many patients and schedule more,” Vogel said. “We’re definitely planning on increasing the amount of patients we see and the range of services we provide.”
Vogel said the Samaritan Health Clinic’s primary audience is underserved and uninsured patients with limited access to health care. Before this collaboration, the clinic had limited volunteers to satisfy the need for women’s health screenings. A nurse practitioner currently volunteers at the clinic four hours per week, and another physician offers gynecological exams once a month, so the clinic can certainly use the help the Sullivan Center offers.
According to Paula Watt, director of Clemson’s Sullivan Center, the center has worked closely with the Samaritan Health Clinic for referrals, student learning and other shared services. However, a recent grant of $42,000 awarded to both organizations from the South Carolina Free Clinic Association has made a regular, joint clinic possible.
“We want to meet these patients’ immediate needs, but we want to take that a step further,” Watt said. “These clinics allow us to educate patients and give them the tools to continue a healthy lifestyle after they leave the screening.”
This continued education comes in the form of a 12-week educational program that provides information on physical activity, stress management and nutrition. Watt said educated patients take better care of themselves and make it easier for physicians and nurses to care for them.
Vogel said the first clinic proved that both organizations were well prepared for the collaborative program, so he is happy that they are only adding services and patients instead of troubleshooting problems. He said the clinic will offer colposcopies, a procedure involving close examination of the cervix, vagina and vulva, in future clinics to cut down on referrals.
“Most of our patients must often choose between food on the table or insurance premiums, so they often go without the medical services that are routine for many,” Vogel said. “The more we can offer through the joint clinic the better off these patients will be.”
The clinic is made possible by a grant both organizations received from the South Carolina Free Clinic Association funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation. The Samaritan Health Clinic is located at 303 Dacusville Highway in Easley, South Carolina, and the organizations plan to hold the clinic on the last Tuesday of every month.