Taylors Free Medical Clinic opened its doors in 2005 after participants on a medical mission trip to South America wondered why they couldn’t offer the same care they provided there to uninsured people at home. In the years since, the clinic has touched the lives of more than 5,000 patients from every ZIP code in Greenville County, according to Karen A. Salerno, executive director.
The clinic offers primary care, diagnostic testing, nutritional counseling, chronic disease management classes and an on-site pharmacy. A wide range of specialists — cardiologists, chiropractors, counselors, dermatologists, gynecologists, orthopedists and surgeons — volunteer their services monthly. All services are free for Greenville County residents with household incomes below 165% of the federal poverty line who have no health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare or veterans’ benefits.
The clinic manages to provide all this with just five full-time and five part-time employees. Even the medical director is a volunteer. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, teams from different churches volunteered to clean the office, but safety concerns necessitated engaging a professional cleaning service. After a time, the cleaning company decided to donate its services as well.
“Greenville is a very loving, caring and philanthropic community. We want to show these neighbors in crisis that someone cares,” Salerno says. “One of the greatest treasures of this ministry is the amazing relationships we get to have with patients. “
Those relationships mean the clinic often serves as more than a medical office.
“We become a part of their lives and part of their families, loving them back to where they need to be,” Salerno says. “Quite often we’re the first phone call they make when they have no clothes for a child going back to school, no food in the pantry or a bill they can’t pay. They tell us, ‘We know you don’t provide these things, but we know you care, and can help us find an agency that does.’”
Clinic staff understand well that the situations their clients find themselves in could happen to anyone, Salerno says. During the pandemic and economic crisis, they’ve seen a 10% increase in new patients, some of whom had never needed help before. Closing the doors was never an option.
“It was important to us to honor our commitment to be here for our patients, but we had to keep patients and staff safe,” Salerno says. “We’re still delivering the services our patients desperately need.”
The clinic quickly began seeing as many patients as possible via telehealth. One of the first accommodations made for safety was to set up a walk-up window for check-ins and picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy. Patients with appointments take a beeper and wait in their vehicles. The clinic purchased personal protective equipment — gowns and face shields — and additional phones for nurses to triage patients for telehealth appointments.
Some of these purchases were made possible by a $5,000 capacity-building grant from the Community Foundation of Greenville, which has supported Taylors Free Medical Clinic’s efforts over the years. All of the 2020 capacity-building grants were disbursed in September instead of February and designated as unrestricted so that nonprofits could use them to adapt to the new reality.
“Taylors Free Medical Clinic pivoted successfully in serving its clients who rank among the most vulnerable during COVID-19,” says Bob Morris, CFG president. “Its outstanding executive and board leadership are a great example of how commitment to its core values has guided it as it maintains a patient-centered focus.”
For more information, visit taylorsfmc.org.
Taylors Free Medical Clinic annual fundraising gathering
Taylors Free Medical Clinic’s annual fundraising gathering will be held at 6:30 p.m. April 13, 2021. Guest speaker Amy Grant, Grammy-winning singer and songwriter, will speak about her Christian faith and sing several songs. Seating will accommodate social distancing, and masks will be required. For sponsorship or seating information, please contact the organizers at 864-244-1134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.