The Free Medical Clinic of Cherokee County received a grant from the Foundation

The Free Medical Clinic of Cherokee County received a grant from the Foundation

Improving health in Cherokee County

Three out of every five of Heather Swayngim’s clients have diabetes.

That’s a huge problem for the Free Medical Clinic of Cherokee County, where diabetes frequently adds to other health and social challenges, according to Swayngim, the clinic director for the Free Medical Clinic of Cherokee County.

It’s an issue she is working to address – and she’s grateful for help from the Spartanburg Regional Foundation. In June, the Foundation awarded a $5,700 grant so that the clinic can provide diabetes education and support for management of the disease.

Many of Swayngim’s clients suffering from diabetes lack awareness about the importance of diet and the availability of healthy eating options. The clinic offers nutrition classes, and grant funding will be used to supply healthy snacks, such as fruits and whole grains, for participants.

“It will really help to be able to provide nutritional snacks as examples of what you can find at the store at an affordable price,” she said.

The grant will also support the purchase of glucometers and glucose test strips to help patients monitor their blood sugar levels at home.

If untreated, diabetes can lead to complications or worsen existing conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and organ and nerve damage. But proper self-care and healthy dietary changes can make a tremendous difference.

“I love when people come in here and seem defeated, but we’re able to show them that improving their health is possible,” Swayngim said.

The Free Medical Clinic of Cherokee County opened in 2014. The clinic has served an estimated total of 900 patients and, with help from partners including AccessHealth Spartanburg, is growing. There are roughly 7,000 residents in Cherokee County ages 18 to 64 who lack health insurance, according to Swayngim.

The Foundation’s 2019 focus

Providing expanded access to care was the focus of the Spartanburg Regional Foundation’s 2019 grants program. In all, the Foundation contributed $569,000 in grants to a total of 34 Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System departments and nonprofit organizations that address community health needs.

Swayngim touts the importance of the grants program and philanthropic support for health care.

“We would have more sick people without it,” she said. “And we can’t meet the economic and social needs of our county if people are not healthy.”

Swayngim takes great satisfaction in helping to meet those needs – making a difference for individual patients and knowing that improved health outcomes build a stronger community.

“It’s great to be able to graduate patients, to get them healthy enough so they can get back to work,” she said. “Hopefully even get insurance through their job so they won’t need our help.”

Learn more about the Spartanburg Regional Foundation grants program.

Click here to donate to the Foundation.