As America’s politicians argue about health care, real people at the York County Free Clinic are doing things for those who need care.
Now the clinic is doing even more – for the people in western York County.
To better serve people in York, Clover and rural areas west to the county line, the Rock Hill-based York County Free Clinic is now seeing patients once a week at the offices of People Attempting to Help - known as PATH - at 204 Raile St. in York.
The clinic is holding Thursday morning appointments with a nurse practioner for people who have no other health care options.
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“Our service is needed no matter what happens in Washington with the Affordable Care Act,” said Bob Thompson, board chairman for the free clinic that opened in 2008. “Our clients have no health coverage. None. These people need help. So we are trying to reach more of them.”
The York County Free Clinic is a private non-profit health care provider that accepts no insurance of any kind, and is only for people ages 18 to 64 who have no other health care options. It is not a government agency or affiliated with any government or private insurance program. All its services come from donations and volunteers.
“To be direct, the people we serve have no other options – they have nothing,” Thompson said. “There are thousands in York County – people who are working poor, single mothers struggling to stretch a paycheck. People who have been laid off. The underemployed. People who need health care.”
Bob Baker of Rock Hill is one of those people. At age 41, he works at an auto salvage yard but does not have health insurance. Baker was at the Rock Hill office Tuesday for services and said he hopes that people in western York County use the free service that for him has been vital.
“I just found out I am a type II diabetic. I am 41 years old, and it was really scary,” Baker said. “They have given me medicine ... they have been very supportive... I can’t think of anything that has been better for me than the York County Free Clinic.”
The free clinic’s clients all must fall under 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines to qualify for services – yet most are even poorer than federal guidelines, clinic officials said.
The clinic saw the need for people with transportation problems or needed the convenience of a western York County site.
So PATH agreed to open its building on Thursdays when PATH’s charitable program of food and other assistance is closed.
The York County Free Clinic has a nurse practitioner based in Rock Hill who will see clients in York at PATH on Thursday mornings by appointment only.
All other services, such as follow-up visits for serious cases, referrals to specialists and more, are handled by volunteer doctors, nurses and others at the Rock Hill office.
In 2016 the clinic saw more than 600 patients in over 3,200 office visits, said Kathy Grier, the clinic’s executive director.
“For so many people struggling to make it in life, health care is put on the back burner,” Grier said. “We have some people come in here who have multiple illnesses. We see some people who have never been to a doctor’s office.”
The clinic offers medical, dental and prescription services, and all of it is free.
The clinic opened in 2008 in Rock Hill as Palmetto Volunteers in Medicine, across from Piedmont Medical Center. It moved in 2014 to a larger location at 410 Oakland Ave. in Rock Hill.
In York on July 20, the clinic saw its first group of western York County patients. Immediately, said Grier and Thompson, the need was obvious.
“Our goal is to help every person who needs us,” Thompson said. “And now by having services in York – we are closer to more people.”
Want to know more?
The York County Free Clinic is located at 410 Oakland Ave., Rock Hill. It sees only patients who meet income requirements and who have no other health insurance coverage.
Patients from western York County can be seen in York on Thursday mornings at People Attempting to Help – PATH – 204 Raile St. Interested persons must be screened concerning income by clinic staff first.
Visits in both Rock Hill and York are by appointment only. Walk-ins are not accepted.
The clinic operates solely on donations from the community of both money and medical services.
For information, call the clinic at 803-366-6337, or visit yorkcounytfreeclinic.org.