Joseph F. Sullivan Center

Nursing Students Serve Free Clinic Population

Clemson University students are actively involved in service learning through the Sullivan Center by working with free clinics in the area. Nursing (both graduate and undergraduate), health science and even language students are involved in providing health services to the underserved population right here in Clemson, South Carolina, at the Clemson Free Clinic. The Sullivan Center also has a long-standing relationship with these other free clinics in our area:

These students utilize this time for clinical hours and experience hours in community outreach and vulnerable populations by assisting our staff in referral and specialty services.

Recently, the Sullivan Center has developed a formal relationship with the South Carolina Free Clinic Association in providing referral services, contract services and specialty services to the Clemson Free Clinic. Since the 1990s, the Sullivan Center has taken Best Chance Network referrals, worked in various Free Clinic populations and allowed our nurse practitioners to be contracted by free clinics. Our main focus is providing speciality services to the vulnerable and underserved population in the free clinics, but we also work to accept referrals on a case-by-case basis for the Free Clinic whenever possible. Although we are considered a member of the South Carolina Free Clinic Association, we do not provide free services to patients. We provide specialty services to referral patients from free clinics.

The Sullivan Center is a member of the South Carolina Free Clinic Association because of our coordination with the Free Clinic. In May of 2012, BlueCross Blue Shield of South Carolina Foundation presented $5.25 million dollars to the South Carolina Free Clinic Association for strengthening the 42 free clinics statewide. These 42 clinics provide health coverage for the uninsured statewide. The South Carolina Free Clinic Association was founded in 2001 as an independent, nonprofit membership organization to provide training and technical assistance, research, resource development and advocacy to the free clinics in South Carolina. This grant helps with allowing us to continue our partnership and provide services to the needy population.

What are free clinics?

Free clinics are volunteer-based, safety-net health care organizations that provide a range of medical, dental, pharmacy, and/or behavioral health services to economically disadvantaged individuals who are predominately uninsured. Free clinics are 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, or operate as a program component or affiliate of a 501(c)(3) organization. Entities that otherwise meet the above definition, but charge a nominal fee to patients, may still be considered free clinics provided essential services are delivered regardless of the patient's ability to pay.

Why are free clinics important?

In South Carolina alone, more than 16% (667,000 people) of our state's total population is uninsured. South Carolina Free Clinics are an essential part of the health care system because they provide quality, comprehensive health care to this uninsured population. Free clinics operate without the support of state or federal funding. Then how are they funded? Through fundraising, foundations like the BlueCross Blue Shield of South Carolina Foundation and individual donations. They are run by volunteer provider services and with the efficient use of donated supplies. In the past, our state's free clinics have served over 34,000 patients in one year--constituting 110,000 patient visits and 13,000 referrals. Without these volunteers and donations, the uninsured population in South Carolina would not have access to medical services.

Who qualifies for a free clinic?

All free clinics have unique guidelines for who qualifies as a patient. However, all of them serve low-income and no-income patients without health insurance who do not qualify for government assistance. Click here to locate a clinic in your area.

 

Information from The South Carolina Free Clinic Association

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