Medical care is getting better for the uninsured in Thomson, thanks to one local nurse. The McDuffie Medical Mission is a partnership between the Thomson First United Methodist Church, the McDuffie County Health Department and the Department of Community Health.
Opened since the first of June, the clinic is open two days a month to serve patients with chronic health problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Amy McCord, who is a public nurse specialist at the McDuffie County Health Department, said while working her job, she ran into the problem of not being able to refer people to doctors for their chronic medical care if they didn't have insurance and they didn't have the money to pay a doctor.
So, Ms. McCord met with her pastor, the Rev. Tom Kerr, of Thomson FUMC, and shared her vision of a medical mission and asked if the church could become involved.
"And he was very willing and very excited. And then, I talked to doctors and nurses in the church, and it just grew from there," she said.
The doctors and nurses who work in the clinic are all local residents who volunteer their time. Ms. McCord said other trained volunteers perform other office duties. The Department of Community Health provides the training for the volunteers and covers the liability.
The church was able to cooperate with the health department to use their facility after hours, with the approval of the board of directors.
"And it was nice that we were able to do that. So, we didn't have to worry about buying blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, examination tables and supplies like that," Ms. McCord said.
The medical mission serves patients that have no access to insurance and that meet other financial qualifications. It is open from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. the first and third Monday of every month. Only patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure can be served at the present time.
An optometrist also serves as a volunteer to provide free eyes exams through the mission, but Ms. McCord said the appointments are all booked. She said they will be taking more appointments for eye exams in November.
"Right now, I have a lot of volunteers that are willing to do the work and we are slowly organizing ourselves," the eight-year veteran nurse said. "It's definitely been the Lord's work, because I could not have done it without a lot of great people helping me, and a lot of doors that have just opened."
In addition to medical care, Ms. McCord said dietitians are available for nutrition counseling, and the Gideons provide New Testaments and spiritual counseling to those who would like that.
Her vision not yet fully realized, Ms. McCord said she would like to see congregations of other churches in the community become involved. She said the mission could definitely use more volunteers.
"Our vision for the clinic is to make it a community project, and not just through the Methodist church," she said. "I would love to get more volunteers from other churches."
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 706-872-1665 and leave a message.