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The Catalyst

Modern day 'Patch Adams' operation celebrated

By Meredith Alger
College of Health Professions

MUSC College of Medicine students Alex Damron and Emmad Kabil work with other students at the non-profit, student-operated CARES Clinic.
College of Medicine students Alex Damron, left, and Emmad Kabil work alongside pharmacy, therapy, physician assistant and public health students in the non-profit,student-operated CARES Clinic located in Mount Pleasant.  photo by Morgan Milan, CARES Clinic

A free medical clinic? Can there actually be a place where people without insurance can go and receive compassionate health care at no cost?

Yes, it exists right in our very midst at the CARES Clinic (Community Aid, Relief, Education and Support). For one week out of every year during CARES week, students at MUSC focus on raising funds and awareness to support the humble mission of this very special place.

Through the generosity of our own MUSC faculty and students who volunteer their time and expertise, the CARES Clinic has been able to provide primary, dental and specialty care, in addition to wellness counseling, physical therapy and occupational therapy services to underserved and uninsured people of the Lowcountry for nearly a decade.

This clinic, one of the only of its kind in the Charleston area, affects so many members of the community, school and medical center. Being able to obtain appropriate primary and preventive care has hopefully averted the escalation of chronic disease in this population while preventing hundreds of emergency room and hospital admissions.

The benefits are twofold. In addition to providing a vital service to members of our community who otherwise  would have very limited access to health care, volunteering at the CARES Clinic allows so many of theyoung practitioners to discover their inner “Patch Adams,” and realize exactly why and for whom they study and practice medicine.

Shannon Looney, a second–year medical student at the College of Medicine, said, “My volunteer experience at CARES has fostered a hopeful realism about reaching out to those without ready access to health care and it has affirmed my desire to ultimately practice primary care in a medically underserved area.”

This is encouraging news, especially considering the projections for primary care physician shortages during the next several decades.

Celebrate the CARES week from March 30 to April 4. There are many opportunities to support and learn about the Cares Clinic. The CARES Clinic, located at 1145 Six Mile Road in Mount Pleasant, is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. The clinic is a medical student–initiated and non-profit organization that serves the underserved and uninsured population of the Charleston area.

For information, visit or call 876-7097.

Editor's note: Meredith Alger, is an MHA candidate in the class of 2015 in the College of Health Professions.

March 20, 2014

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