Lexington County receives national award for closing health care gap in Pelion
Lexington County has earned a national award for doing its part in providing better health care to residents in an outlying rural community.
The county received the 2016 Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award from the National Community Development Association and is the only community in South Carolina to be recognized in 2016. The award specifically commends Lexington County for its usage of Community Development Block Grant funds to improve the lives of county citizens.
County leaders in 2011 partnered with Eau Claire Cooperative Health — a nonprofit health care system operating in Richland, Lexington, Newberry and Fairfield counties — and provided $597,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds obtained from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Monies were used to construct a much-needed medical home for the Pelion area.
Before the Pelion Family Practice was built, people in the town had to travel more than 20 miles to receive comprehensive health care.
“Its nice to be recognized, especially by an organization like the NCDA,” Lexington County Council Chairman Johnny Jeffcoat said. “But even better is the fact that by working with community partners like Eau Claire Cooperative Health, a need was identified and a solution (was) put in place.”
According to data provided by the county, staff at the Eau Claire Cooperative Health estimated they’d see about 1,000 patients annually. The average is closer to 6,500 patients today, and officials say the health care gap is closing.
“The partnership truly demonstrates that all things are possible through collaboration. The collaboration between Eau Claire Community Health Center and Lexington County Community Development has greatly reduced unnecessary emergency room visits while building a healthier community,” said Delgado Cantave, president and CEO of Eau Claire Cooperative Health Center.
The Pelion Family Practice was so well-received that the facility was able to expand in the first year of operation. Services provided there include family medicine, behavioral medicine, counseling and social services.