Free Medical Care Pulls One Woman Back from the Brink

Photo by Matthew McDermott.

Photo by Matthew McDermott.

Not long ago, Tammie was on the verge of becoming homeless. A torrent of medical problems including two heart attacks, severe arthritis and COPD, left her unable to work.

Today she still struggles, but gets by with support from her daughter and the free medical care she receives at the Anderson Free Clinic in South Carolina – one of more than 800 safety net clinics AmeriCares supports nationwide with donated medicine and medical supplies.

 “The medicine, the clinic – I get on my knees and thank God every night for all of it,” says Tammie, 54, who uses all of the strength she can muster to help care for three of her 14 grandchildren. “If it weren’t for the clinic and the people donating to the clinic, I don’t know what I would do without them. They really are a blessing because I couldn’t get my medicines without them.”

Tammie takes about 20 medications to manage hypertension, high cholesterol, COPD, severe acid reflux and other ailments – all of which she receives free at the clinic pharmacy. To date, AmeriCares has stocked the clinic she relies on in Anderson with over $600,000 in medical products – everything from cardiovascular and respiratory medicines to insulin syringes and over-the-counter cough and cold remedies.

“The partnership with AmeriCares allows us to have a consistent formulary which is key not only for continuity of care, but quality of care,” said Anderson Free Clinic Executive Director Barb Baptista. “We give patients what they need – not just what we have on hand.”

Tammie
Photo by Matthew McDermott

If the clinic did not provide medication, Baptista said, many patients would go without. Her patients have very little income and often have nothing left at the end of the month after paying for food and shelter.

AmeriCares expanded its work with the uninsured in the U.S. after Hurricane Katrina underscored the tremendous need to help struggling Americans here at home. Over the past 10 years, AmeriCares U.S. Medical Assistance Program has grown to become the nation’s largest provider of donated medical aid to the U.S. health care safety net, last year delivering more than $85 million in prescription and over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies for patients in need. Supported by the GE Foundation, the program helps partner clinics and health centers to increase capacity, provide comprehensive care, improve health outcomes and reduce costs for patients.

Many of the clinics AmeriCares supports are powered by volunteer doctors and nurses who donate their services to help patients like Tammie struggling with economic problems, unemployment and debilitating health issues.

“It means something to you when a doctor is special enough to come help you of his own free time and he’s not getting nothing out of it,” Tammie says. “They make you feel special when you walk in and you see them smile.”