Duke grant benefits whole community

  • Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bonesteel

Hopefully, you woke up feeling well this morning. But suppose that you woke up feeling bad, so bad, in fact, that you suspected you had a serious illness that required medical attention.

And what if you didn’t have a doctor to call? Factor in that there’s no money for a doctor because the rent is due and, well, you don’t have a car to get to one anyway. Besides, you’ve got to eke out some money for food.

The above scenario is the reality that many of our neighbors in Georgetown County face every day. Chances are, you know them but are unaware of just how dire their circumstances are: low-income – many of them working – and uninsured.

Unable to afford a doctor – much less specialized care – no way to buy medicine, and no transportation. These are the people who the Georgetown Community Care Network, which is made up of 36 faith communities, human service providers, health educators, state agencies and primary care and specialty care providers, was established in 2011 to assist.

We’re proud to say that, in a short amount of time, we have helped more than 400 residents of our county become established with a medical home, or primary care practice, get much needed treatment by surgeons, cancer and orthopedic specialists, gain access to medications and obtain rides to their medical appointments.

We also have connected them with other agencies that provide essential services. Our partners include the Smith Free Medical Clinic, Helping Hands, Georgetown Alcohol and Drug Commission, Waccamaw Mental Health, St. James Santee Family Health Center, Friendship Place and Georgetown Physician Services, part of Georgetown Hospital System.

However, so many more people are in need of care – about 9,000 people between the ages of 19 and 64.

Nevertheless, every day brings small victories when we see someone returning to work after getting their diabetes under control, walking and playing with their grandchildren when their sight is restored, and beaming with pride when they turn the key to a place they can call their own.

Last week we celebrated a big victory with the announcement that The Duke Endowment has awarded Georgetown Memorial Hospital a $500,000 grant so that we can reach more people, expand our volunteer programs and build a seamless network so clients can more easily connect with services.

Thanks to this gift from The Duke Endowment, we will be able to continue our goal of helping people manage their care, become independent and live healthy lives.

Although the grant was awarded to GMH as the administrator, it truly is a gift to our entire community because, when we have a healthy community, we have more people who are able to work, get an education, and move our community forward economically, socially and culturally.

And all of Georgetown County benefits.

Linda Bonesteel is executive director of the Georgetown Community Care Network.

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