Local clinic continues march to help those in need
When you receive a letter from a twelve year old little girl saying how much a diabetic assistance program meant, you realize just how far-reaching your impact in the community can be. That is exactly what happened to Cindy Cole, executive director of Community Health Services.
Founded in 1987 by a group of concerned individuals, and approved in 2004 as a non-profit organization, Community Health Services now operates 14 clinics throughout Union County. Seeing over five-thousand patients last year alone, their effect on people’s lives cannot be undervalued.
“We want to give lights of hope to a hopeless people,” Cole said. “Why should people have to choose between feeding their families, or receiving the help that they so desperately need with their Diabetes. The south-east leads the United States in the number of obese or diabetes related issues. It is also the seventh leading cause of death. Diabetes affects over forty-thousand people in Union County alone.”
Each potential patient, gets either pre-screened or is referred by another organization. Once the pre-screen has been completed, diabetic residents of Union County then qualify for assistance with everything from meters, to strips, and even groceries.
The cost to the patient? Free.
“Each clinic consists of around thirty volunteers,” Cole said. “We have eight doctors on staff, and the last Wednesday of every month a physician will come in to see patients. But we do much more than treat patients at Community Health Services.”
Cole went on to emphasize that a family learning to live with diabetes was just as important as any physical care that one could receive.
“We try to educate each family,” Cole said. “We’ll teach them how to control their diets, and the way to properly use their equipment.”
“Our focus is on the individuals between the ages of eighteen and sixty-four.” Cole said. “Before eighteen, those with issues can receive help from Social Services. Those sixty-five years and up can receive Medicaid.”
While many are giving selflessly, there is still a tremendous need for not only funding, but for more volunteers as well. “A great need for us is for Spanish translators and meal fixers. Funding will always be a challenge,” Cole said.
Churches, individuals and Wingate University, through its physicians assistant program, continue to help people, Cole said, predicting that Community Health Services would still be thriving in ten years.
If you would like to volunteer call 704-296-0909 Monday through Friday during business hours.