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CMC conducts 'Wellness Rider' bus tours

Posted: November 9, 2017 4:09 p.m.
Updated: November 10, 2017 1:00 a.m.

“You’ve always heard from realtors that location, location, location matters,” Susan Witkowski, CEO of the Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County, said. “Location matters for your health too. Your zip code is one of the most influential factors of your overall health.”

The Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County (CMC) recently conducted two Wellness Rider bus tours to showcase the clinic’s efforts to impact people in the county and emphasize the critical healthcare needs residents face.

“I came on this tour and I love being involved with the Community Medical Clinic because they are addressing needs that need to be addressed and they are asking and answering questions that have never been asked before here in our county,” said Mike Conley, Kershaw County Planning and Zoning Director. 

During this these tours, Wellness Riders met three CMC patients and heard their stories.

“Listening to the three presenters share their stories, it was evident that they were much more happy with their health now that they have found the clinic,” former Camden Mayor and former CMC board member Mary Clark said. “It’s wonderful to see the clinic making this big of an impact in our community.”

Clark also said the tour made her proud to continue supporting CMC.

“I am so impressed with the progress that has been made that was laid while I was still a board member,” she said. “I can’t believe how it has grown and how successful it has grown. It is such a feather in Kershaw County’s cap.”

Kershaw County is 740 square miles or roughly the size of Rhode Island with a population of more than 63,500 people. It ranks 14 out of 46 for health outcomes in the state and is a microcosm of South Carolina in that it has both rural and urban areas.

The demographics in Kershaw County also match state demographics, so if a health strategy works in Kershaw County, theoretically it can be replicated in other counties across the state, Witkowski said.

Based on the 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment, almost a quarter of all residents or 14,000 people in Kershaw County are uninsured. The state average is about 15 percent, and the national average is close to 13 percent.

“Uninsured populations have been linked to worse health outcomes, higher mortality rates and higher levels of chronic diseases,” Witkowski said. The county, which takes more than one hour to drive from one end to the other, has one free clinic, one Federally Qualified Health Center and one Rural Health Clinic to serve the needs of the underserved.

“It’s easy to be an educated person from a middle or upper middle class background and not pay attention to those who are in need even though we talk about it all the time,” said Tony Scully, a former Camden mayor. 

The tour began at the West Wateree Medical Complex in Lugoff and stopped at CMC in Camden, Buffalo Baptist Church in Kershaw and North Central High School. The bus passed all of CMC’s satellite locations to emphasize the distance many people have to travel to get medical care. Those satellites included DeKalb Baptist Church in Cassatt, Refuge Baptist Church in Kershaw, Bethune City Hall, and Cassatt Baptist Church.

“Our aim is to provide high-quality services that embrace all -- not just clinical facets -- of an individual’s life by working together in a team-based approach,” Witkowski said. “Our patients come to us with complex medical issues in addition to the need for assistance in many aspects of daily living, including nutrition, literacy, transportation and housing. Because of the complexity of our patients, we need to create multiple entry points. Only when these factors are addressed can they pursue the steps toward healthy living.”

The efforts are paying off.   

“It’s amazing how much of an impact y’all make on our community,” said Portia Melott a Wellness Rider with Cantey Foundation Specialists. “Even having satellite campuses throughout the different churches and schools, you really have great reach throughout the community.”

Volunteers, too, learned more about CMC from the tour.

“I am a volunteer, but I had not a clue of all the work going on in the community and what the medical clinic is doing all over the county,” Molly Nettles, CMC volunteer said. “If you ever have a chance to go on this tour, please do.”

CMC is planning the next Wellness Rider Tour in January 2018. To sign up, contact Susan Didato at (803) 731-0806. To learn more about the tours, visit cmcofkc.org/wellness-riders. 

CMC opened in 1998 as a nonprofit, charitable family practice medical clinic. It was founded on the mission of providing medical care to the uninsured residents of Kershaw County. CMC has grown from seeing several patients a week in one room to having a fully staffed medical facility as well as mobile clinics. Today, CMC has expanded its mission and is leading a collaborative effort to empower individuals to take charge of their own health and well-being. To learn more about CMC visit cmcofkc.org. 

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