82
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      Thousands flocking to free medical care event in Columbia

      Several Midlands health organizations are teaming up to offer free medical, eye and dental care Friday and Saturday at the Carolina Coliseum.

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Several Midlands health organizations are teaming up to offer free medical, eye and dental care Friday and Saturday at the Carolina Coliseum.

      The community wide " SC Mission 2011: Midlands " aims to help underserved or uninsured adults get the health care they need on a first-come, first-served basis.

      Agencies will offer behavioral health services, sexually transmitted disease counseling and patient education on the most common chronic health conditions. Pharmacy services are also available.

      Services are divided by floors to accommodate the crowds of people. Doctors stressed the importance of a follow-up for those who really needed it.

      Many who were present Friday were either unemployed or disabled.

      "As the man of the house it's very difficult to not be able to come home and look my children in the eye and say dad's taking care of ya'll," says Roderick Martin who attended the event.

      Martin is just one of the many folks at the Coliseum Friday who is unemployed.

      Several patients we talked with say the massive turnout is a sign to lawmakers that more needs to be done concerning health care needs.

      "Beyond the care they receive on these two days, we want people to walk away from this event with better avenues to continuing care," said Melanie Matney, AccessHealth SC Executive Director. "Every South Carolinian needs a medical home where they can get consistent proactive care rather than depending on the local hospital emergency room."

      Organizers say they will see as many people as possible, but expect the demand to exceed capacity.

      "There is an enormous unmet demand for health services among the underserved and uninsured of our state," said Vince Ford, Senior Vice President of Palmetto Health Community Services. "Our goal is to provide assistance to those in need; we are determined to see as many people as possible."

      The event runs from 6 a.m. " 10 p.m. on Friday and continues at 6 a.m. Saturday.

      Access Health SC, BlueCross BlueShield Foundation, DHEC, Fairfield Memorial Hospital, Lexington Medical Center, Palmetto Health, Providence Hospitals, South Carolina Hospital Association, South Carolina Optometric Physicians Association, United Way of the Midlands, the University of South Carolina and Welvista are all providing support.

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