Having access to quality healthcare is a challenge for many low-income patients living in rural areas. Fortunately, there are medical centers like Sandhills Medical Foundation, Inc., in Lugoff, South Carolina, that offer sliding scale fees, allowing all patients to receive quality healthcare regardless of their income level. However, this has led to an increase in the number of patients, and the Foundation soon realized that their Lugoff office was running out of space. In response, the Foundation developed a civic participation agenda to address the systemic problems and inequalities that burden the coastal region of South Carolina.
This agenda includes initiatives to improve housing, education and economic development in the area. The Coastal Community Foundation is the largest community foundation in South Carolina and serves nine coastal counties. The center works with medical schools, colleges and schools, and community partners to address the health needs of rural South Carolina residents. Jo Pauling-Jones is an academic educator and health services researcher at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).
She has more than 35 years of experience in nonprofit executive leadership, community engagement, advocacy and outreach. The center has supported family medicine residents and provided training in South Carolina communities, such as Sumter, Winnsboro, Florence and across the state. It has also provided support to create rural educational opportunities for social, pharmacy and community health workers. Megan Weis is the director of community engagement at the South Carolina Center for Rural and Elementary Health.
She believes that libraries are community centers that welcome everyone and are natural places where people can access information. Kevin Bennett is the director of South Carolina's & Rural Primary Care Center, which is part of the Columbia School of Medicine. The center is based at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia and works to improve access to healthcare for South Carolinians in rural communities.