HUD CDBG Funds Help Open New Richland County Medical Facility to Help the Underserved
Richland County Government and the Eau Claire Cooperative Health Centers (ECCHC) announced the grand opening of a much needed medical Clinic in the Hopkins community of lower Richland County. Richland County provided $775,000 in HUD CDBG funds to ECCHC for the construction of the new 6,000 sq. ft. health facility located at 9023 Garners Ferry Road.
The center will provide increased access to health services and will include pediatric and adult services. The ECCHC will operate the new facility and oversee the staff, which will include a family medicine physician and a pediatrician. The ECCHC is a community based, non-profit, federally qualified health center (FQHC) that provides comprehensive primary medical care to low-income and uninsured families in Columbia and the surrounding areas. The ECCHC is the largest non-hospital provider of primary care in the Midlands and operates a CDBG-funded center in Columbia and one in Lexington County which serve as a comprehensive medical safety net that provides access to primary healthcare services for traditionally underserved populations.
"I have been in Community Development for well over 20 years now, but this is one of my best projects to date. It not only will positively impact the community it will serve, but it is highly visible and built to last. My devotion to this work is based upon a life of giving back and I will be able to point to this facility years down the road and say, I did something great on my journey here" said Valeria D. Jackson, Director of Community Development, Richland County Government, Columbia, South Carolina.
"Richland County's Hopkins Community has received its first primary care center offering affordable and accessible care to all residents. The County CDBG funding administered by Ms. Valeria Jackson and staff, has proved most effective in bringing this important project to fruition" said Dr. Stuart Hamilton, CEO, Eau Claire Cooperative Health Centers, Inc. (ECCHC)
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony - (Pictured Left to right)
1. Brad Evatt, CPD Director, HUD Columbia Field Office
2. Larry Knightner, Director, HUD Columbia Field Office
3. Dr. Stuart Hamilton, MD, Founder & CEO of ECCHC
4. Norman Jackson, Chairman, Richland County Council
5. Julie Anne Dixon, Richland County Council
6. Valeria Jackson, Richland County Community Development Director
7. Yvette Rowland, Representing Senator Lindsey Graham
8. Dalton Trezvant, Representing Congressman Jim Clyburn
9. Jeremy Tolbert, Representing Senator Tim Scott
10. Drew Kennedy, Representing Congressman Wilson
"The collaborative partnerships formed between federal government, local government and private partners have made once again a dream come true for the residents of Hopkins, South Carolina. This beautiful Hopkins Family Practice Center will serve many families that have a need for professional medical services now and in the future. HUD's CDBG Program has proven to be one of the best decisions made for proving funds to communities that need its assistance. We congratulate Dr. Hamilton and his team for their commitment to take medical services to the communities that need it by spending awarded federal and local government dollars in an efficient and effective manner" said Larry Knightner, South Carolina HUD Field Office Director.
The CDBG funds were designated for land acquisition, construction and up-fit within the building shell, and the parking lot. The cost of the total project was $775,000 in CDBG funds. The ECCHC will provide maintenance, furnishings and other costs for the project.
The expansion of health services permits a greater number of low-income families in lower Richland County to receive needed high quality health care services that are accessible and affordable. The Hopkins community of the 29061 zip code has 13,717 residents, a 12.3% poverty rate, and 9,000 underserved individuals. The availability and accessibility of local, affordable primary care and health services in this area was limited. However, through this new facility the ECCHC will improve the community health infrastructure through community based health services that are an integral part of the healthcare safety net for low and moderate-income persons.
Access to affordable health care is a barrier for underserved individuals and families in the Hopkins area. Especially in the 29061 zip code which is underserved and has a high number of low-moderate income households in need of health services. All patients are welcome and no one is denied service because of an inability to pay. A sliding fee scale based upon family size and income is in place to assist those in financial distress.
Over 9,000 low-income individuals who would not otherwise have access to high quality affordable and locally available health services will not have to leave their community to get assistance. The impact on the community will be measured by tracking the number of days lost from employment, school, general functionality in the activities of daily living, and overall improvement in general life quality in this underserved community. Without Community Development Block Grant funds, these needed services would not be available.
The ECCHC has served the Eau Claire community for over 30 years and as of 2014 serves over 55,000 unique underserved and uninsured individuals and families in Columbia and the surrounding areas. The ECCHC applied for CDBG funding in FY 12-13 and FY 13-14 through the County's CDBG NOFA process and was awarded CDBG for the 2012 and 2013 program years. Construction of the new facility began on 8/20/13. Construction was completed and services will begin on April 28, 2014. A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on April 21, 2014. Over 40 people were in attendance including HUD local Field Office personnel, County elected officials, representatives of Federal elected officials, community service organizations, neighborhood residents, and City of Columbia and Richland County Community Development staff.
Valeria Jackson, Richland County Community Development Director, and Brad Evatt, HUD CPD Director, contributed to this article.