Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic (BIFMC) is excited to announce that as of September 16th, 2019, all free healthcare services will extend to include low income, uninsured adults who work in the hospitality industry of Downtown Charleston. The HIP [Hospitality Inclusion Project] Initiative will aim to expand patient eligibility and provide free healthcare, specialty referrals, and low/no cost prescription services to all uninsured adults ages 18-65 who serve the hospitality industry (food, beverage & hotel) of downtown Charleston.
As a large, 140-volunteer free clinic located on Johns Island just over the Stono River Bridge from Charleston’s peninsula, the Clinic is well positioned to take on this deserving – and often low-income – patient population. Clinic services include free primary care, dermatology, psychiatry, reproductive health, nutrition, chronic disease management, labs & imaging, low or no cost prescriptions, and more.
Clinic Medical Director, Dr. Richard Ulmer, states, “The Clinic’s commitment to the Barrier Islands remains steadfast as we grow our vision of providing a free medical home to those in our community without access to healthcare. We will continue to stand in the gap of healthcare inequity and offer high quality, compassionate medical services to those without health insurance, and we look forward to extending our hand as we are able in the future – all thanks to the generosity of our donors and volunteers.”
In operation since 2008, the clinic opened a brand new, 7-exam room medical facility in the spring of 2018, enabling the free medical home to double its patient capacity. Since the opening of the new Clinic, they have also increased income eligibility guidelines from 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 299%, including expanding free services to residents and workers of Folly Beach. The clinic currently sees over 400 patient visits per month, having served over 4500 uninsured patients across the Barrier Islands since its founding.
Outreach volunteer, Cynthia Cronk, is thrilled to push the expansion forward and welcome a new patient demographic. “Hospitality workers were a logical next step. We know this is a group of workers diverse in race, age and skill sets; we know that many hospitality workers do not always have access to health care. This is a group of workers who help drive the city’s economy and promote Charleston as a tourist destination. We, in turn, can stand in this gap and provide outstanding medical care to keep these men and women healthy and able to work.”
It has long been Clinic philosophy that everyone deserves the dignity of healthcare. Barrier Islands Free Medical clinic is thrilled to be able to return the hospitality to those who serve as the backbone a truly welcoming city.
-Submitted by Carrie Moores, BIFMC Outreach and Communications Specialist