Understanding free medical clinics

12/08/2013 12:00 AM

12/07/2013 8:31 PM

This week, Dr. Todd Crump, medical director for the Free Medical Clinic at 1875 Harden St. in Columbia, answers some frequently asked questions about care received from free medical clinics.

What is a free medical clinic?

Specifically at our clinic, we treat poor people with health care needs who would otherwise go without those needs met. When the economy tanked, people lost their jobs, their insurance and their homes. But they didn’t lose their high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma. They must continue to be served and that’s where we step in.

Who qualifies to be seen?

We see patients 18 and over who have no insurance, Medicaid or Medicare, and who fall at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $15,500 in earnings per year for an individual). We require proof of income (pay stubs, tax return) or an unemployment form for verification purposes.

What services are provided?

We provide primary care and specialty care across 24 specialties, in addition to preventive care — flu shots, pneumonia vaccinations, mammograms, pap smears, PSA screening, colonoscopies, etc. We also have lab and diagnostic testing thanks to the three major hospital systems in the Midlands. We have limited testing on site — blood sugar, urinalysis, bedside ultrasound. Finally, we provide diabetic supplies along with medications from our in-house pharmacy.

What services are not provided?

We do not test for sexually transmitted diseases or offer pregnancy testing or prenatal care. However, we will make referrals to other appropriate agencies. In addition, controlled substances are not prescribed nor dispensed.

Will I be responsible for payment of certain services?

We are truly a free clinic. We do not charge patients for visits or for medications dispensed; however we do accept donations from our patients.

There are 41 other free clinics across the state. To learn more, visit: www.scfreeclinics.org.

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