Sumter ministry helps mother keep access to health care


Imagine being a compliant patient for years, keeping up with doctors appointments, following instructions, taking medications as prescribed, then suddenly you cannot afford an office visit because your child ages out of Medicaid and you no longer have insurance.

This is a dilemma low-income parents can face. When their child is too old for Medicaid coverage and no longer qualifies, the parent also loses their health insurance. Without that luxury, many parents find themselves no longer able to afford the cost of an office visit or their medications.

This is a dilemma faced recently by a new client at Sumter United Ministries. The nonprofit is currently the recipient of The Sumter Item's sixth-annual Summer of Caring fundraiser, where all monetary donations received through Labor Day will be given to help their clients with emergency, often life-saving services like shelter, food, medical care, clothing and education assistance.

A woman we will call Ms. P works as a custodian but cannot afford to pay for health insurance out-of-pocket, said Jacqueline Butler, Medical Clinic director at SUM. Ms. P qualified for Medicaid because her daughter did, but once her daughter aged out, they both lost coverage.

"Ms. P was concerned for her health because she has a number of ongoing health issues including hypertension, pre-diabetes and reflux that require medication and monitoring," Butler said. "She was understandably concerned. Unfortunately, she was unaware of the existence of Sumter United Ministries Free Medical Clinic. Thankfully, because of our partnership with vocational rehabilitation, she learned of SUM-FMC from her VR counselor."

Ms. P took the initiative and called to schedule a qualification interview, provided the necessary documents and successfully enrolled as a patient at SUM, Butler said. "Patient compliance and continuity of care are necessary components for good health maintenance. Because of Ms. P's proactive nature, she went only a few weeks without a medical home. She was last seen at her previous physician's office on March 6, was interviewed for SUM-FMC on April 29 and was seen for her first appointment at SUM-FMC on May 7," Butler said.

She was able to remain on all her medications without a lapse due to her taking the initiative and seeking out the options for medical care that were available to her.

"Ms. P expressed appreciation for the clinic. She frequently mentions how thankful she is that we are here," Butler said. "She knows that the cost of office visits and medications without insurance can be extremely expensive. Often to the point that people skip needed care. The generosity of the Sumter community with their contributions to the Summer of Caring allow our patients to receive primary medical care, enabling them to maintain their health and prevent needless emergency room visits and possible hospitalizations. Ms. P is just one example of someone who has been assisted by the SUM Free Medical Clinic and, by extension, the Sumter community."

Donations last week through Monday, June 24, include: anonymous, $100


Anonymous: $100

Total this week: $100

Total this year: $350

Total last year: $6,481.84

Total since 2014: $28,003.84