What does the word “free” mean to you? Something of no value or poor quality? Something that you can live without? Well, think again. In Greenville, we have an amazing community asset that provides a medical home to more than 4000 patients each year. The Greenville Free Medical Clinic (GFMC) provides high quality healthcare that is comparable to the care anyone of us would chose for our own families. Certainly a service that our community CANNOT live without.
More than twenty staff members and hundreds of volunteer physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists and others work together to provide a safety-net for those who do not have access to healthcare and wellness services. GFMC patients cannot afford to pay for healthcare and do not have insurance. And while the care provided to them is free, the actual value of these services was more than $11 million dollars last year alone. And the quality provided is unsurpassed.
GFMC has partnerships with both Greenville Health System and Bon Secours St. Francis Health System to accept patient referrals for medical home placement. In addition to receiving primary medical care, patients also receive specialty care, dental services, mental health counseling, pharmacy services and health education classes. To provide greater access to those in need, GFMC operates from four locations – Downtown (600 Arlington Ave), Northwest Crescent (925 North Franklin Rd), Greer (202 Victoria St) and Golden Strip (1102 Howard Drive).
Malinda Cosby exemplifies all that is great at GFMC. Last year, while searching online for a new volunteer opportunity she came across GFMC. She was excited and immediately applied to become a volunteer. Her background was in healthcare, but that didn’t matter since she was eager to do anything that was needed. You see, Malinda has spent her life giving back – a value instilled by her great grandmother. It is no surprise that she jumped in feet first.
After a few short months of observing Malinda in action as a volunteer, it became obvious to the GFMC staff there was a bigger role for her to play. Her enthusiasm, passion and work ethic were infectious. Malinda was offered a position as a patient care technician. She was brought to tears when she received this call. She had not applied for the position and it was truly a dream come true.
In this new role, she provides pre-assessments and triage services. “I am the person that builds bridges between our patients and their providers. Many folks are unable to articulate what is going on and I am able to help them do this. I am also there just to listen. Fortunately, I have a great memory for names and details, since it is important to me to build relationships with all of my patients,” explains Malinda.
Malinda is no stranger to the healthcare system herself. In 2009 she was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. Her personal experience allows her to offer her patients both, a sympathetic and an empathetic ear.
“ I know how important it is to be treated like a person and not a need. I always ask my patients what I can do for them. And sometimes a simple touch of the hand can make all the difference,” shared Malinda.
In closing, I offer some words of wisdom from Malinda’s great grandmother, “Life is fair. Along the way it is going to offer you both the good and the bad. It is your choice which path you choose.” Malinda has definitely chosen a good life with her service to others, just like the hundreds of volunteers and staff members who provide high quality compassionate care to thousands of patients at GFMC.
For more information about the Greenville Free Medical Clinic visit www.greenvillefreeclinic.org or call 864-232-1470.
Photos by Amy Randall