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Life changed irrevocably for Jennifer one day when a doctor at the Greenville Free Medical Clinic in Greenville, South Carolina told her that she had reached the point where she was “out-eating” her insulin. At 37 years old, she had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and could no longer work. She needed 17 different medications and 800 units of insulin per day. She weighed 350 lbs. As Jennifer explained, “I always say I had a heartbeat, but I wasn’t alive.”
The volunteer endocrinologist at the clinic put her in contact with Greenville’s Director of Nursing, Mark Johnson, RN. From that day on Jennifer and Mark worked together each week at the clinic, completely altering every element of her lifestyle from food intake to exercise.
Greenville Free Medical Clinic is one of more than 750 safety net organizations participating in the U.S. Medical Assistance Program. The clinic was recently selected as one of seven AmeriCares partners to participate in the Transforming Prediabetes Care Initiative, a national demonstration to increase the identification of prediabetes and improve health outcomes for free clinic patients. The clinic has also been the recipient of over 12,000 donated insulin syringes from AmeriCares since 2009, as well as significant amounts of other pharmaceutical products.
Mark and Jennifer with her “350 lb.” pants
Jennifer has lost 165 pounds. She runs regularly, has a new career in a property management office and has gotten off most of her medications. Her diabetes is now well-controlled.
Explaining the impact that the Greenville Free Medical Clinic has had on her life, Jennifer said, “I can never thank the wonderful staff and volunteers at the clinic enough for all their exceptional care and continual encouragement. And, a special thank you to Mark, who saved my life.”
For over 25 years, the clinic has been providing health care and wellness services at no charge to people who cannot pay for care and to those who do not have insurance available to them. During this time, tens of thousands of low-income uninsured patients have received care from volunteer physicians, dentists and nurses at the four clinic sites operated by the clinic which relies on a team of over 600 volunteers.
AmeriCares is the largest provider of donated medicines, vaccines and supplies in the United States, with more than $227 million in aid in 2014 and $3.6 billion delivered to date.