JOHN'S ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) — Anyone who works or lives in James, John’s or Wadmalaw Islands who makes under $24,280 per year—$467 per week—can get health care services at The Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic for free.
On March 6, the 10-year-old clinic moved into a brand-new 7,000 square-foot space on John’s Island on Maybank Highway between River Road and Main Road.
It's available for adults ages 18-65 who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health insurance.
The new Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic is equipped with a lab room and seven patient care rooms, ready to accept up to 600 patients each month.
In addition to providing free primacy care services, the clinic can refer patients to 19 off-site specialists, who will also care for patients for free.
Primary care is provided just like any family practice, but at no cost. The clinic treats patients dealing with diabetes, hypertension, coronary disease, depression and more.
Patient services include low or no-cost generic prescriptions as needed, with free imaging and scans provided by Roper St. Francis Hospital.
For those who are unsure if they qualify for the clinic, an in-house patient navigator can help determine eligibility.
The clinic runs on seven full-time staff members and volunteer nurses and doctors, many who are retired after decades of taking care of patients in Charleston and surrounding areas.
"The most rewarding aspect of the clinic is seeing people who would have inadequate or no medical care get equivalent medical care on par with anyone else in the area," said Jim Hayes, a volunteer doctor and member of the clinic's board of directors. He's a retired physician who cared for patients for 35 years in West Ashley.
The clinic does not accept any form health insurance or government assistance. All costs for the clinic are covered from monetary donations and in-kind donations from Roper St. Francis Hospital—to the tune of $1.6 million donated by the hospital in in-kind services.
Clinic hours are Monday from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., and Tuesday through Friday between 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
A walk-in medical clinic is open every Monday night between 6- 9 p.m. A certified Spanish-language medical translator nurse is on staff to help assist Spanish-speaking patients.
“This is what a clinic does when it cares about citizens and treats them with dignity,” said Carrie Moores, outreach and communications with Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic. “The biggest misconception is that people who use a free health clinic are homeless or don't work; however, the people we see at the clinic are people who are working in restaurants, taking care of children and working hard.”
Carrie Moores calls the clinic a “safety net” for those with chronic diseases and those want to get their healthcare under control before problems become life-threatening or require a visit to the emergency room.
The clinic was founded in 2008 by doctors Arthur S. Booth and Charlie Davis operating out of a small rented space off of Maybank Highway.
With the move to the bigger location on the same site this week, Moores said the Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic is looking to offer patient education classes such as smoking cessation, nutrition and more.
For more information or to volunteer at the clinic, call 843-266-9800 or visit www.bifmc.org. The clinic is located at 3226 Maybank Highway.