Skip to Content

Joseph F. Sullivan Center History

The Joseph F. Sullivan Center is an interdisciplinary health center at Clemson University! We are one of the oldest continuously operating nurse-managed health centers in the United States. The Joseph F. Sullivan Center originally started as a "Family Health Center" in the 1970's. The Center originally provided services from nursing faculty free of charge. The first director did a community assessment in the 1980's to identify needs that were not being met. Throughout the 1980's, the center’s philosophy and purpose were defined; critical areas of success were identified; key indicators to measure each area of success were created; and long-term goals were established. The director, Dr. Barger, established relationships with key community leaders, physicians, and public health advocates to expand the center's capabilities. Dr. Barger also connected with the Pickens County Health Department to begin providing immunizations, which also lead to a contract with the Head Start program in the area for physicals and immunizations. Nursing faculty at Clemson supported the clinic by providing services during the week. In 1990, Dr. Barger helped the clinic attain the use of a mobile health unit, when did its inaugural run to Central, South Carolina to provide physical examinations to 5 children. The mobile unit was also used to conduct health screenings at various community functions such as football games and health fairs.  The unit was officially transferred to Clemson University in 1995.

In 1992, Blue Cross/Blue Shield provided an endowment to help fund the employee wellness program at Clemson University.  Given in honor of Joseph F. Sullivan, who was retiring as CEO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield after 30 years of service, the wellness program was dedicated as the Joseph F. Sullivan Wellness Program at a ceremony on September 12, 1992.  The wellness program continues to operate out of the nursing center. Another program, the Medical Surveillance Program, began at Clemson University in 1994 with a certified occupational health nurse to manage the program. The program continues to operate, focusing on all employee, faculty and staff wellness at Clemson University.

The ongoing commitment of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina has supported significant growth and has been instrumental in establishing programming, promoting sustainability and expanding outreach. An endowment honoring longtime chariman of the board, Joseph F. Sullivan, continues to anchor conmmunity health and wellness programming. Since 1978, the Joseph F. Sullivan Center has offered programs and services to improve the health, education, and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. The center provides opportunities for students and faculty to practice in state-of-the-art settings and for clients to have direct access to nursing services. The Sullivan Center works to provide health services to all employees, faculty and staff on Clemson University's campus. In addition to the work being done in the on campus clinic (located in 101 Edwards Hall), the Sullivan Center uses the mobile health unit with the Migrant Health Program and Best Chance Network, as well as in Oconee County each Friday for the Walhalla Mobile Clinic

The Center has won numerous awards for innovative and collaborative outreach to underserved populations including SC Cancer Alliance Excellence Award in Breast Cancer Prevention; SC Office of Minority Health Award for Increasing Access to Health Care; SC Rural Health Association Award of Merit for Excellence in Research; State Health Plan Prevention Partners Award for Collaboration; SC Best Chance Network Provider Facility of the Year Award and the SC Migrant Health Innovative Programs Award. In addition, the Center received special recognition from the SC Office of Minority Health for its Lay Health Advisor Program “Promotores de Salud de Oconee.”

Nursing centers have historically provided holistic, client-centered health services using a nursing model.  Health promotion, disease prevention, and collaboration with other health care professionals have been integral components of the mission of nursing centers.  Many centers also had as part of their mission the provision of a site for student learning, faculty practice, and research. The Joseph F. Sullivan Center remains at heart and by definition a nursing center but it has evolved over the years to encompass other disciplines and services.