“What’s The Catch?“The perspective of a student intern on the operations of a free health clinic
“What are your summer plans?” is a question all students are asked every spring. To my delight, I explain my opportunity to learn from and contribute to the daily operations at Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic, located on Johns Island, SC. I am ecstatic to be the clinic’s first volunteer student intern.
As a Spanish & International Health major, minoring in nonprofit leadership, the clinic is a seamless fit for my own interests. I hope to gain as much operational information and hands-on experience as possible before returning back to school in the fall.
Already in my first week, I have participated in several clinical roles, including my attendance at a hiring event for the Hospitality and Tourism Industry on behalf of the clinic’s Hospitality Inclusion Project. Staff member Marisa Lynch and I proceeded to canvas the hospitality employers themselves, sharing information about the free health care services we provide for uninsured restaurant, hotel, bar and tourism workers on the Charleston Peninsula. We found the majority of employers to be receptive to our clinic services, however we are often faced with some skepticism: “What’s the catch?”
Of course, there is no catch! After determining eligibility based on work, residence, and income, all patients are able to receive primary care and over 19 sub-specialties, like dermatology, reproductive health, and psychiatry at no cost. This is due to medical volunteers and donations from the community with the desire to provide quality health care to all.
One thing I hope to contribute to the clinic is to add to the availability of Spanish interpreters for our Hispanic patients. The clinic is currently seeking more Spanish translators in addition to those already available. If you are interested in volunteering, visit www.bifmc.org for more information and to fill out an application. The clinic is flexible with volunteer hours, so you can work out a schedule that works for you and contribute alongside an amazing group of people.
Personally, from my own experiences living abroad, I would like to be an additional welcoming voice at the Clinic who is aware of the struggles involved with moving to a new country with a language barrier. Because healthcare is a complex issue, having a strong bilingual presence in daily clinic operations is important to provide our Spanish-speaking patients with all of their care needs, and to help spread the word that we are here to provide access for all.
Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic is a free clinic in Charleston, SC, that provides free medical care to eligible patients, just like any family practitioner or internist. The Free Clinic serves uninsured adults living at or below 299 % of the Federal poverty level who live or work on Johns, James, & Wadmalaw Island or Folly Beach, or serve the Hospitality Industry of Downtown Charleston. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.