AIKEN — A free health care clinic needs increased community support to sustain operations and expand its services to more patients who can’t afford to visit a doctor.
Community Medical Clinic of Aiken County provides free health care for low-income residents because of a mostly volunteer staff of health care professionals and donations.
To continue the service and plan for a possible expansion, the clinic has planned its first large-scale fundraising.
On Thursday, at least 150 people will donate to the clinic in exchange for a small dinner party at host homes in Aiken. After the dinners, the donors will gather as one large group at the Green Boundary Club on Whiskey Road for a dessert party.
In addition to collecting donations, the fundraiser was planned to increase the community’s awareness of the health clinic and solicit additional volunteers to staff the clinic throughout the year. Five doctors and 15 nurses volunteer regularly at the clinic, which is at 244 Greenville St. NW.
“Despite all the wonderful things that get done for us, there’s so many things we have to pay for,” said David Stinson, the board president for the Community Medical Clinic of Aiken.
Last year, the clinic served 459 patients and provided more than $1 million in prescription medicine free to uninsured patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and asthma.
“We take them out of the emergency room pitfall,” Stinson said. “We’ve been able to take care of the working poor and economically unfortunate in our community.”
Executive Director Mallory Holley said increased donations and volunteer hours could help alleviate a waiting list of more than 100 patients who wait about three months for an initial appointment.
The clinic refers people in emergency need or with a condition not treated at the Aiken clinic to other facilities as far away as Columbia.
Contributions from the dinner party fundraiser will help support a full- and part-time administrative staff, pay utility bills and purchase medicines to supplement donations.