Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic [BIFMC] is thrilled to announce that it has been selected to participate in the national MAVEN Project initiative. Chosen by both the National Volunteers in Medicine organization and The Maven Project Foundation as one of four free clinics across the nation, volunteer physicians at BIFMC will be provided with the opportunity to consult with specialists from across the country in order to enhance the health of our patients.
“Connecting volunteer physicians to underserved clinics through telehealth technology,” The MAVEN Project aims to serve patients in their “medical home” clinics and support primary care providers professionally and personally, according to the organization’s website. Through this initiative, experienced physician volunteers representing over 40 clinical specialties will be “ready to assist in validating clinical approaches, enhancing plans of care, and triaging referrals via The MAVEN Project’s telehealth technology platform, video and/or phone.” BIFMC primary care providers can request a consult, or send a case question to one physician volunteer or group as necessary.
Clinic Medical Director, Dr. Richard Ulmer, believes that telehealth services will greatly enhance the Clinic’s operation, which functions as a multi-service free clinic to uninsured adults who live or work on Johns, James and Wadmalaw Islands or Folly Beach. Currently, the Clinic has access to several internal referrals for many specialties, including primary care, gynecology, dermatology, cardiology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases and urology, orthopedics, nutrition, psychiatry, and ophthalmology, as well as labs and imaging provided by Roper St. Francis at no cost. A partnership with The MAVEN Project will enable the Clinic to expand the expertise available to manage and optimize patient care locally.
Currently, Clinic patients consist of adults between the ages of 18 and 65 who fall at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, many of whom work several jobs, long hours, and have families that they care for and support financially. The Clinic’s main barriers to accessing specialty care for patients consists of transportation issues and time efficiency due to an area insufficiency of public transportation and limited or no sick time gained from patient employers. Many who visit the clinic suffer from chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, requiring routine check-ups and specialty care. For those specialists that fall outside of the Clinic’s referral pool, prohibitive costs associated with treatment prevent low-income, uninsured patients from accessing care beyond the Clinic and health partners. The MAVEN Project will streamline specialty referrals and grant greater access to uninsured patients in need of care.
The free clinic is thrilled that their patient population will benefit from the increased ability to offer a one-stop, all-inclusive assessment and consultation with specialists within a single visit. States Ulmer, “This partnership will further enhance what the Clinic is currently able to deliver to patients as we connect our own talented volunteer physicians with additional experts across the country.”
The MAVEN Project was recently featured on PBS NewsHour, highlighting their important and meaningful work.
-Submitted by Lori Leary