The Daily Gamecock

SC Mission 2011 to provide free health care to Midlands residents

Clinicians volunteer to give medical, dental, eye services at two-day clinic

Thousands are expected to show up at the Carolina Coliseum this Friday and Saturday to receive free health care services. SC Mission 2011: Midlands is a collaboration among United Way of the Midlands, local area hospitals and nonprofit organizations that intends to provide free medical, dental and eye care to uninsured or undeserved adults 17 and older.

Volunteers and organizers also aim to provide follow-up referrals and resources for continuing care to these adults with urgent medical needs.

Medical services that will be available include diagnoses, general examinations, X-rays, cardiovascular consultations, among others provided by general practitioners. Dental care being provided includes education, cleaning, and basic fillings and extractions.

Optometrists on site will fulfill comprehensive eye care and examinations, and glasses may be given if necessary. Any necessary pharmaceutical prescriptions will be given to patients at the event.

The event is modeled after a similar two-day free health care clinic held at the TD Convention Center (formerly the Carolina First Center) in Greenville, S.C., during August of last year.

SC Mission 2010, sponsored by the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) that is also a partner in this year’s event in Columbia, marked the first time free medical, dental and vision services were all offered at the same place in South Carolina. According to the SCHA, the event garnered 500 volunteers and around 2,000 patients.

Because there is no registration for patients in advance, the number of people expected to attend this year’s clinic is difficult to produce, according to Lauren Chess, chair of the communications committee of SC Mission 2011: Midlands.

“As far as patients go, it’s really hard to say how many will turn up. That’s been one of the challenges of planning this event,” Chess said. “We’re hoping to see a few thousand. We’ve done a little more promotion than the Greenville event since that was the first time it was done, and they just wanted to see how it went. We know the need in our community is great, and we’re just going to try and see as many people as we possibly can.”

There are no qualification requirements for patients to attend the event and receive medical attention. Patients register when they arrive at the clinic and will be treated on a first-come, first-served basis.

According to Bridgett Molony, the volunteer center manager of United Way of the Midlands, both the general and clinical volunteer registration is full, and no additional outside vendors or informational groups are allowed to participate in the event.

“We have over 1,100 general volunteers,” Chess said. “We probably have another 300 or so clinical volunteers — doctors, nurses, dentists, hygienists, optometrists.”

Morgan Ashmore, a third-year nursing student as USC, will be a general volunteer.

“I had an internship this summer with Health Sciences South Carolina, and they were looking for a way for me to volunteer,” Ashmore said. “Since I’m a nursing major, I thought it would be a good way to get some experience with patients and helping out the community in need.”

Kelsey Snedecor, a fourth-year biological sciences and pre-medical student at USC, will also be volunteering.

“There are so many volunteers, and they’re expecting such a big turnout that they’re kind of just shuffling us in and placing us where we need to be the day of,” Snedecor said. “I’m interested in the medical aspect of the event, and I’d like to see how the patient-physician interaction goes.”

According to Chess, there will be signs posted in the area as well as security personnel directing volunteers and patients on where to park for free for the event, including the lots between the Coliseum and the Colonial Life Arena that USC students, faculty and staff use.

However, other events taking place through the university this Friday and Saturday may result in a difficult search for parking for both students and patients, as well as a large amount of traffic for those drivers wishing to use Park Street behind the Coliseum.

Students enrolled in Summer II courses that meet Monday through Thursday at 10:30 a.m. or 3:30 p.m., including journalism classes located in the Carolina Coliseum, are scheduled to take their final exams during regular class time on Friday, Aug. 5, according to the university registrar’s calendar online.

The Summer 2011 commencement ceremony for baccalaureate, master’s and professional degrees will take place at 10 a.m. at the Colonial Life Arena, according to the university’s website. Both of these events will take place during the scheduled time of the two-day health clinic.

SC Mission 2011: Midlands will take place Aug. 5 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Aug. 6 from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Carolina Coliseum at 701 Assembly St. Dental care will be provided for 34 hours straight from Friday at 6 a.m. to Saturday at 4 p.m.