About The Free Medical Clinic
The Free Medical Clinic, Inc., provides quality healthcare, at no cost, to residents of the community who cannot pay for such services and who have no health insurance.
Organized by Reverend Bill Bouknight (former Pastor, Trenholm Road United Methodist Church) and the Bethlehem Center, the Free Medical Clinic, Inc., was incorporated on April 12, 1984. Reverend Bouknight saw an article in a Guidepost magazine concerning a free medical clinic in Roanoke, Virginia. Following a visit to that clinic, a group began detailed planning to bring a free medical clinic into existence here in Columbia. The clinic opened across the street from Providence Hospital at 1609 Brabham Avenue and started serving patients on May 24, 1984. The original clinic had a waiting room, two exam rooms, a small pharmacy and a small laboratory.
In October 1993, the Clinic moved to its present location at 1875 Harden Street and a building with 5,875 square feet. Converting the former home of the Harvest Hope Food Bank, the staff and volunteers operate six examination rooms, a pharmacy, a small laboratory, a classroom for patient education and meetings, a waiting room and offices.
Serving Our Columbia area community
Primarily serving patients from Richland and Lexington Counties, SC (64% and 30%, respectively), the clinic also sees patients from 18 other counties. The clinic specifically targets those residents who do not have anywhere else to obtain their health care. The clinic provides primary care for patients, many who suffer from chronic diseases and conditions. Most of our patients suffer from hypertensions (45%), but also we treat patients with diabetes (34%), heart diseases (10%) and asthma (9%). In addition, we are able to refer patients for specialty care using a network of volunteer providers or the Richland Care specialty network. The three area hospital systems provide free diagnostic exams, lab tests, x-rays, CAT Scans and MRI exams. For those residents who need care but do not meet our criteria, they are referred to other indigent care providers in the area.
Donations – Legacy of Caring
The clinic is able to offer its services free of charge due to the efforts of dedicated volunteers and faithful financial support from the three area hospital systems, corporations (notably BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina), organizations (notably USC School of Medicine), the United Way of the Midlands, churches and individual donors in the Columbia metropolitan area. Our ability to provide health care is provided primarily through the efforts of dedicated volunteer providers, primarily physicians and nurse practitioners. Nursing volunteers (who include registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, emergency medical technicians and medical students) support the volunteer providers and provide patient education and coordinate the referrals. Volunteer licensed pharmacists and pharmacy technicians provide pharmacy support. Administrative volunteers assist with screening (to determine patient eligibility), medical records administration, computer data entry, telephone duties, translator assistance and facility maintenance.