Sullivan Center - ThomasAlexanderAnitaChambersPaulaWatt

Sen. Thomas Alexander, the Tiger, Anita Chambers and Paula Watt (left to right) celebrate the unveiling of the Sullivan Center’s large mobile clinic during a November 2016 ceremony.
Image Credit: Clemson University

CLEMSON — The Pete and Sally Smith Foundation has committed $100,000 to support Clemson’s Joseph F. Sullivan Center, a nurse-managed clinic located on the university’s campus. Beyond supporting campus wellness for Clemson students, faculty and staff, the Joseph F. Sullivan Center provides outreach to many underserved communities throughout the Upstate of South Carolina through the use of mobile health clinics.

The Sullivan Center has used mobile health clinics for 28 years and is taking steps to expand this effort. The center plans to use the $100,000 gift from the Pete and Sally Smith Foundation to purchase two mid-sized SUVs that it will employ to more efficiently provide follow-up visits or specific health care services in conjunction with the center’s larger mobile clinic.

These additions will effectively create a fleet of vehicles to provide low-cost health care to those in need. Paula Watt, executive director of the Sullivan Center, said this gift will enable the center to support more locations and remove barriers to care in rural communities, particularly those in Oconee County.

Watt said these additional vehicles are only part of a planned expansion that the center hopes to continue in the near future. The center hopes to acquire and outfit additional units that can single-handedly hold smaller clinics or conduct mini-campaigns in conjunction with the larger unit and those made possible by the foundation.

“We’ve used the larger mobile clinic to make big pushes across the state that have improved health care outcomes for underserved populations,” Watt said. “These new units will act as satellites to that main unit, providing targeted visits and more specific services to patients we encounter during those initial pushes.”

The services these units can provide will depend entirely on how they are outfitted. Watt said the center plans to include screening technology on board one or both units that will allow staff to perform wellness-based chronic disease prevention, follow up to breast and cervical cancer screenings, cardiovascular screening and education, and general acute and chronic care.

Sullivan Center employee and recreational therapist Audrey Rivers teaches line dancing outside of Clemson's mobile health clinic at a Clemson tailgate event last year.

Sullivan Center employee and recreational therapist Audrey Rivers leads a line dancing session outside of Clemson’s mobile health clinic at a Clemson tailgate event last year.
Image Credit: Audrey Rivers

Watt said the center’s staff has already begun to refer to these units as Compact Utilities for Basic Services or CUBS. Like the larger unit, the smaller CUBS will be outfitted with solar technology that will provide environmentally friendly power for the units when parked that reduces operating costs.

Expanding mobile outreach efforts will provide students from multiple departments at Clemson with the opportunity to understand and solve problems for South Carolina’s most vulnerable citizens. Thanks to mobile outreach efforts over the last 10 years, Watt said the center has increased clinical encounters from around 4,500 per year to nearly 13,000.

“Every encounter is a patient who is receiving information or services they would otherwise go without,” Watt said. “Plus, our students are getting real, hands-on experience with this population and understanding the difficulties these individuals face in obtaining health care in general.”

The Pete and Sally Smith Foundation primarily supports charitable causes in the areas of education, the environment, and medical research/disease management in Rhea County, Tennessee, and Oconee County, South Carolina.

Located on the first floor of Edwards Hall on the Clemson campus, the Joseph F. Sullivan Center is a nurse-managed health center that provides health services to Clemson employees and community outreach programs to rural and underserved communities and individuals. The Sullivan Center is part of Clemson’s College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.