Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic launches free health care for hospitality workers on the peninsula

"This is a group of workers who help drive the city's economy"

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Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic has extended its free health care services to include all eligible, low income, uninsured adults working in the hospitality industry of downtown Charleston. The clinic believes that "everyone deserves the dignity of health care" and they are excited to "return the hospitality to those who serve as the backbone of a truly welcoming city."

Their new Hospitality Inclusion Project aims to provide free health care services to all uninsured adults ages 18-65 working in the hospitality industry on the Charleston peninsula, including all downtown food, beverage, and lodging businesses.

The clinic is located on Johns Island (3226 Maybank Highway) and houses a large, 140-volunteer staff ready to take on the new patient population. Services include free primary care, dermatology, psychiatry, reproductive health, nutrition, chronic disease management, labs and imaging, low/no-cost prescriptions, and more.



Clinic Medical Director Dr. Richard Ulmer says in a press release that the clinic will "continue to stand in the gap of healthcare inequality and offer high quality, compassionate medical services to those without health insurance." While the clinic is still committed to the Barrier Islands they are well prepared to take on more patients. Dr.Ulmer says it is all possible "thanks to the generosity of [their] donors and volunteers."

The clinic began operation in 2008 and in the spring of 2018 they unveiled a new, seven-room medical facility, doubling the free facility's patient capacity. Since then, they have increased income eligibility guidelines from 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to 299 percent, including expanding free services to residents and workers on Folly Beach.

Currently seeing over 400 patient visits per month, the clinic has served over 4,500 uninsured patients across the Barrier Islands since 2008.

Health insurance premiums in S.C. have increased by more than $100 per month for moderately priced marketplace plans since 2017, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data.

Outreach volunteer Cynthia Cronk vouches for the expansion, stating "hospitality workers were a logical next step ... This is a group of workers who help drive the city's economy and promote Charleston as a tourist destination. We, in turn, can stand in this gap and provide outstanding medical care to keep these men and women healthy and able to work."

All interested adults who work in the hospitality industry on the Charleston peninsula may learn more or apply at bifmc.org or by calling (843) 266-9800.

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