MARION, S.C. (WBTW) — After serving the uninsured of Marion County for the past 20 years, the Helping Hands Free Medical Clinic will be closing it’s doors for the last time on September 30.
The clinic was established in 2001 to help the uninsured and underinsured receive the medical care that they needed.
“Traditionally, their medications could cost them hundreds if not thousands per month at regular market prices being that they don’t have insurance and so we’ve been able to provide care for them with minimum to no out of pocket cost,” Schinitra Swinney, HHFMC Provider said.
The clinic was the brainchild of the Marion County Healthcare Foundation. Funding for the clinic was supported by the foundation. Through the years the clinic was separated from the foundation and became a grantee who applied for a grant each year. The MCHF was the major grantor for the clinic.
MCHF decided to move in a “different direction” with their funding to support the needs of the uninsured and underinsured of Marion County. This major decision left the Helping Hands Free Clinic without its primary funding source for operations.
HHFMC staff says this closure will cause barriers for patients.
“I’ve seen the major need for a free medical clinic. Well over 1500 people in just the 6 months that I’ve been here,” Tannesha Clements, Temporary Executive Director, said.
Helping Hands Free Medical Clinic Services included Health Education, TB Skin Tests, Labs, EKG and Radiology, Urinalysis, A1Cs, Medications, Flu & HEP-A Vaccines, STD Screening, a Diabetes & Hypertension Program, Cancer Screening, Retinopathy & Neuropathy Exams, Screening for Hearing, Dental Services Assistance, Wound Care Clinic, Cardiology Clinic, COVID-19 test and referrals.
Swinney says she is sadden by the closure because she knows most of the patients.
That was one of the reasons why I came to Helping Hands and I was very happy to come here and come back to my community and work and provide services to not only my neighbors, my friends, my church members,” Swinney said. “It really breaks my heart that to know that there will be so many people who will fall through the cracks because this service will not be available,” Swinney continued.
Over the last nine years HHFMC averaged 2040 visits/contacts per year.