May 20, 2012; Source: Greer Today

According to its Form 990, South Carolina’s Taylors Free Medical Clinic had revenues of $497,888 in 2009 and $411,117 in 2010, but not a nickel of program service revenue. The clinic offers primary and specialty medical services such as dermatology, orthopedics, gynecology, neurology, counseling, chronic disease management assistance, x-rays and even surgery. Taylors Free Medical Clinic provides all of this for free for low income, uninsured people who aren’t even covered somehow by Medicaid or Medicare.

The free, nonprofit clinic was established in 2005 after the co-founders, Russell Ashmore and James Hayes, did a medical aid trip to Brazil in 2002 and then wondered, “If we can do this in South America and halfway around the world, why can’t we do something to help people in our own backyard?”

The clinic now serves 3,100 people a year and fills 25,000 generic drug prescriptions, according to Greer Today, though the Taylors-WadeHamptonPatch reports that the clinic saw 4,500 patients last year.

For a headliner at its annual fundraiser, the clinic wrote to a number of famous people and got a quick, positive response from Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton, who will be coming to Taylor for the Health Healing Hope spring gala. Hamilton knows health issues, having survived testicular cancer and a brain tumor, but one might guess that as a champion skater, TV commentator, and Emmy Award nominee, he had top-notch health care coverage, unlike poor people in the Taylors, S.C. area. 

Congratulations to the Taylors Free Medical Clinic for grabbing a fundraising headliner of Hamilton’s caliber and congratulations to Hamilton for saying yes to a small nonprofit that doesn’t operate in a major media market (its nearest metropolis, so to speak, is the Greenville/Spartanburg area), suggesting that Hamilton is doing this because he cares about the issue of medical care, not because he’s interested in self-promotional PR.

Nonetheless, the numbers of people who patronize the free medical services offered by the Taylors clinic constitute evidence of the continuing problem of poor people who don’t have sufficient health care coverage in this nation. With the future of the Affordable Care Act (the so-called “Obamacare”) awaiting a Supreme Court opinion, and with regulations on what will be required of hospitals to assess and respond to community need still to be drafted, the future business demand for free clinics seems destined to be with us for a long time to come.—Rick Cohen