Medical clinic provides free access to health care for residents of Jasper County
According to the most recent census taken of Jasper County residents, more than 22 percent of the population less than 65 years of age is living without medical care. This is where Med-I-Assist comes in. In the 2015 calendar year, this organization provided:
1. Free emergency prescription medical assistance to 74 patients.
2. Free eye exams for 92 patients.
3. Free prescription eyeglass for 81 patients.
Jasper County Hunger Free Zone, a grassroots effort and temporary home to the Med-I-Assist program, also provided area residents with food assistance from January to December of 2015. Funding from the Beaufort Fund provided full funding for the cost of emergency prescription medical assistance, and covered the cost of 35 eye exams and 27 prescription eyeglasses during this period. However, the illness of the medical director of this clinic required a 6-month hiatus of these services, directing Jasper County residents to alternate Med-I-Clinics located in Bluffton and/or Sheldon, South Carolina.
The re-opening of the Med-I-Assist site at 11223 North Jacob Smart Boulevard in centrally-located Ridgeland will provide accessible healthcare to Jasper County to underemployed, underinsured, unemployed and uninsured residents of all ages. This new facility provides partnerships with Greater Bluffton Jasper County Volunteers in Medicine and AccessHealth Lowcountry, both of which share offices with Med-I-Assist at North Jacob Smart Boulevard.
Greater Bluffton Jasper County Volunteers in Medicine provides free medical care to the uninsured of Greater Bluffton and Jasper County with an emphasis on preventative medicine and health education. With a staff of nearly 100 medical and nonmedical volunteers, this organization receives no fees for services and raises its annual budget through grants and fundraisers.
AccessHealth Lowcountry has partnered with Med-I-Assist to provide prescription assistance to patients, ages 19 to 64 in Beaufort and Jasper Counties who require low-cost or free medical care. This organization refers patients to primary care providers who offer free or sliding scale services. In addition to referrals and their prescription assistance program offered through partnership with Med-I-Assist, the organization also provides transportation to said services.
George Bush, Jr., a key community leader in the creation of Med-I-Assist, is pleased with the complementary nature of these services. When patients submit initial intake forms at BJVIM or AccessHealth Lowcountry, the same eligibility applies to Med-I-Assist, therefore providing patients with more access and requiring less paperwork. The site opened on Monday for walk-in appointments from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Out of the of eight participants who required free medical clinic services on opening day, June 20, two then utilized Med-I-Assist emergency prescription assistance programs. Another two were referred by AccessHealth Lowcountry to primary care doctors. According to Bush, 90 percent of the time when patients come in to take advantage of one of services provided at Med-I-Assist, they also require services from these partner organizations.
We are excited about the collaboration of these health initiatives in Jasper County and look forward to reading more about their success. To get in contact, or learn how to access services offered via Med-I-Assist, please visit www.accesshealthlowcountry.org/med-i-assist.html.
Photo credit: Greater Bluffton Jasper County Volunteers in Medicine.