Ehrhardt citizens express need for health care facility

A standing room only crowd of Ehrhardt citizens were on hand Monday night Feb. 7, at a town hall meeting to express their support for a new health clinic in the town.

“This is a testimony to the need for a health care facility in the town of Ehrhardt,” Ehrhardt Mayor Bill Stanley told Orangeburg Family Health Center Inc. CEO Leon Brunson and his staff, referring to the large number of citizens present at the meeting.

Mayor Stanley prefaced his comment by noting that in working with the Family Health Center Inc. they had expressed concerns about the need for the facility and support from the community.

“We are excited to see all of ya’ll out here tonight,” Leon Brunson said, adding “you showed up tonight, that shows us interest. Now, we have to raise the money.”

Mayor Stanley said the town has applied for a matching grant and will meet with Senator Brad Hutto and Senator John Matthews and is “trying to pull money” from different sources. The Mayor noted that to start the clinic would cost approximately $100,000 with matching funds and he thought that could be done.

Brunson said he was hopeful the clinic could be started without raising taxes.

The Family Health Center CEO said the new health care facility would be Joint Commission Accredited (which was noted is the same commission that certifies hospitals) and would use electronic medical records to keep up with patients records.

Dr. Stevenson, a member of the Family Health Center staff said; “We are excited about a new access point in Ehrhardt. Part of our mission is to fix and improve health care in our area. Our vision for Ehrhardt is an office that delivers top quality health care,” Dr. Stevenson said.

In the public comments portion of the meeting, a number of Ehrhardt residents expressed their opinions about the proposed clinic, with most being positive.

Emma Padgett, in response to the talk about funding the clinic, said the citizens of Ehrhardt needed to contact their state and national level officials and let them know “we need a health center” in Ehrhardt.

Donald Hiers, who runs a variety store in Ehrhardt called the proposed clinic a “win-win” situation for businesses and others in the town as the clinic would help bring people to the town.

One resident said if the Bamberg Hospital closed, the town of Ehrhardt would lose its EMS service so “the new clinic would be beneficial. Another resident of the town spoke of her experience dealing with the staff of the Family Health Center: “I think you guys are awesome. Pediatrics and adult health care, you couldn’t ask for anything better.”

One citizen of the town said she was concerned about the “criminal element” that some health care facilities seem to attract. She was told that a doctor could be on call at night. A member of the audience asked what type of businesses could come from the new clinic. Brunson said the clinic would create a new pharmacy with doctors for the town.

The last member of the audience to speak told those present the new clinic was something they could not do by themselves. “Let’s trust in God, we can’t do it ourselves,” he said.