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Getting healthy, staying healthy

United Way partner agencies offer health care services, prevention programs

Posted: September 8, 2011 12:49 p.m.
Updated: September 9, 2011 5:00 a.m.
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For Martha*, the pain was unbearable for 13 years.

“I had no doctor... was constantly in pain,” she said.

She had a work-related injury from the past that she had never been able to fully overcome.

When Martha learned of the Community Medical Clinic (CMC) of Kershaw County, she immediately began to seek more information. That’s when she met Sally Robinson.

“After meeting Ms. Sally, things began to turn around. I was able to get help. I love her for that,” Martha said.

Robinson is a mental health clinical psychotherapist and a volunteer at the clinic.

“Today Martha is living independently and with hope,” Robinson said. “She will be able to cope on and on with whatever comes her way, I feel sure. She’s a brave person.”

Robinson said she volunteers with the clinic because of the positive leadership offered by the organization.

“(I’m) there because the leadership of the clinic is convinced that positive health outcomes for its patients are dependent not only on physical medicine, but on the mental health status of the patient.”

Robinson said this attitude allows CMC patients to truly be in charge of their health and actively participate in getting better.

For every dollar provided to CMC, $12.50 worth of services is given to uninsured patients in need.

The clinic is a non-profit organization and a partnership agency of the United Way of Kershaw County (UWKC). It is located behind the United Way building on East DeKalb Street.

One office visit at the clinic, on average, is valued at $61, CMC Director Susan Witkowski said. Because of volunteers and dedicated staff, the clinic can provide medical care at a fraction of the normal cost.

“A donation of $5 would cover the average office visit for one patient,” Witkowski said, “Every little bit counts.”
Witkowski said all the volunteers allow the clinic to be fully operational.

“Without them, we wouldn’t be here,” she said.

In 2010, the clinic served 1,100 patients with 5000 office visits.

“The most important reason we’re here is to offer access to healthcare for the uninsured,” Witkowski said. “A big part of what we do is providing medications and medical attention to people who have no resources. They’ve run out of options.”

The clinic also partners with community specialists for patient referrals. These areas include surgery, urology, nephrology, pulmonology, dermatology, breast specialist, gastroenterology, endocrinology, cardiac surgery, pathology and radiology.

Basic office visits and referrals are not the only services provided. The clinic also offers Best Chance Network, a breast cancer and cervical cancer screening program for women between the ages of 47 and 64; dental services; chiropractic services; counseling for patients with a short-term need; diabetes education; physical therapy; and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps) through the South Carolina Benefit Bank.

To qualify for services, a patient must not have health insurance, live in Kershaw County and not earn more than the maximum income allowed.

For more information about the clinic, visit www.cmcofkc.org.

(*last name was not published to protect the identiy of the patient.)

Eat Smart Move More

South Carolina was named the eighth most obese state in the country, according to the eighth annual “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011,” a report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). South Carolina’s adult obesity rate is 30.9 percent.

Eat Smart Move More South Carolina is a nonprofit organization that coordinates obesity prevention efforts across the state and leads the implementation of South Carolina’s Obesity Prevention Plan.

“The intent of this coalition,” according to EatSmartMoveMoreSC.org, “is ongoing collaboration between state agencies, business and industry, health care organizations, schools, academia, community based groups and coalitions and a broad range of other stakeholders to capitalize and leverage differing areas of expertise, skill and resources to impact obesity in South Carolina.”

Since the coalition was formed, it has established seven local chapters, including one in Kershaw County.  Others are Beaufort, Jasper, Berkeley, Dorchester, Charleston, York, Colleton, Lexington and Florence counties.
Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County (ESMMKC) has only been in existence since 2008, but the group is already making positive impacts around the county.

ESMMKC, while working with cycling clubs, KC Planning and Zoning, and SC Department of Transportation (DOT) has initiated “Share the Road” signs to be installed around the community as well as bike racks in strategic locations.
Other projects have included getting lights installed in Scott Park, getting new signs for community parks, and helping seniors have access to fresh fruits and vegetables through the Kershaw County Farmers’ Market

ESMMKC, in partnership with the Kershaw County Farmers’ Market and Rep. Laurie Slade-Funderburk, encouraged five new farmers to become certified to accept WIC and senior vouchers for their fresh fruits and vegetables.  The Kershaw County Council on Aging is a qualified site to distribute the senior vouchers and the WIC program within the Kershaw County Health Department distributes the WIC vouchers.  Before 2010, there was minimal opportunity for seniors and WIC participants to use these vouchers at the Kershaw County Farmers’ Market.

“We’ve worked with local farmers to allow seniors to use vouchers at the Kershaw County Farmers’ Market to purchase fresh food,” Whitney Hinson said. “It’s a win-win situation. The local community has access to affordable locally grown produce and it stimulates the local economy.”

Hinson is a community health educator for the KershawHealth Community Outreach and Wellness Center. She also serves on the ESMMKC committee.

ESMMKC has worked closely with the Council on Aging, Hinson said, to make sure local seniors are aware of the opportunity.

ESMMKC began with a seed grant from Eat Smart Move More SC to KershawHealth after its community outreach staff collaborated with SC Dept. of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)-Region 4 during the 2008 South Carolina Obesity Prevention Summit.

“The first thing we did after putting our heads together was research,” Hinson said.
The goal, she said, was to get to the bottom of the first and second leading causes of death in Kershaw County: cancer and heart disease.

During the start-up process, an online survey was conducted with the participation of 200 Kershaw County residents, Hinson said.

“The main thing we found was that residents were, overall, unaware of the recreation facilities offered in the county,” Hinson said.

The reasons cited for people not being active included not enough facilities close to home, time and dogs.
The survey responses also included what the residents would like to see changed in Kershaw County. The suggestions were to create more walking trails, provide a public swimming pool and give incentives for local restaurants to offer healthy options.

ESMMKC has collaborated with many agencies, organizations and individuals throughout the community to come closer to achieving its goal of preventing cancer and heart disease. Those groups include the City of Camden, the Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County, DHEC Region 4, KershawHealth, Kershaw County Planning and Zoning, the Kershaw County Recreation Department, the Kershaw County School District and the United Way of Kershaw County..

In the spring of 2009, ESMMKC was awarded a national grant from the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors to participate in the Action Communities for Health, Innovation, and EnVironmental ChangE (ACHIEVE) initiative. The goal of this three-year grant is to help ESMMKC take action within the community for health, innovation and environmental change.

To learn more about Eat Smart Move More KC, visit EatSmartMoveMoreSC.org.

Mt. Pisgah Buffalo Rescue Squad

Worth Thomasson, principal at North Central High School, said he was grateful for the Mt. Pisgah Buffalo Rescue Squad, a UWKC partnership agency.

“They act as the primary first responders to all of our home athletic games,” Thomasson said.

And when you’re miles from the nearest hospital, good medical care can’t be taken for granted.

“They have offered excellent care to our students,” he said. “We’re very thankful to have them here.”

Bobby Roberts, captain of the Mt. Pisgah Buffalo Rescue Squad, said in addition to being present at NCHS athletics, they offer response to emergency calls in the Mt. Pisgah, Bethune areas, as well as blood pressure and sugar checks for those with diabetes the second Tuesday of every month.

Another service they offer is transportation to doctor’s appointments.

“We need to be called a few days in advance to schedule it,” Roberts said.
The squad doesn’t charge for any of the services offered, Roberts said. For more information, call Roberts at 475-2279.

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