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The University of South Carolina Lancaster announced it will close its Diabetes Education Clinic next month.
In a press release Monday, June 24, USCL Dean Walt Collins III said he was forced to make the decision due to declining insurance reimbursements and increasing delivery costs over the last several years.
University officials said the clinic’s last day is July 12.
“This was a very difficult decision and one I wish I didn’t have to make,” Collins said. “The clinic has served many people across the community and has made a positive difference in the quality of their lives.”
Collins said the decision to close the clinic will not affect operations or services at the university’s Physical Therapy, Cardiopulmonary and Cancer Rehabilitation clinics, which are housed inside the Carole Ray Dowling Health Services Center, 509 Hubbard Drive.
University officials said USCL Health Services will continue to offer some diabetes self-management services, such as nutritional counseling with a referral from a registered dietician. The Gregory Health and Wellness Center will also continue to provide personal fitness plans and exercise services.
In a followup email, USCL Public Information Director Shana Dry said the closure would result in the loss of “1 ½ jobs.”
Dry said the decreases in insurance reimbursements at the center of the decision were the result of several factors, including fewer people with health insurance due to unemployment and changes in health care reimbursement policies and rates.
“And yes, it is the patients’ insurance paying less for services and limiting the clinic for the amount of visits we could bill for,” Dry said. “Medicare reimbursement rates are the benchmark for other insurance companies’ reimbursement rates, and they have steadily declined over the past 10 years.”
History and services
The Diabetes Education Clinic was the only free-standing diabetes eduction clinic of its kind in the area. The others like it are associated with a medical practice or hospital.
The clinic had its roots in The Diabetes Center, founded in 2001. The center changed its name in 2005 when it joined USCL’s Health Services. Over the years, university officials said the clinic served 3,157 patients during 14,924 visits.
Despite the name change, the clinic’s goals remained the same: to provide diabetes education and self-management services to area residents and their families, and encourage preventative measures to ease complications.
The clinic used a team approach to help clients offering individual and small group education sessions on a range of diabetes-related topics such as physiology of the disease, insulin pump training, stress prevention, meal preparation and the role of family in diabetes care.
The instruction was informal, and often creative, such as the clinics quarterly “grocery store tours” where participants learned about healthy food choices and selections, starting with how to decode nutrition information on food labels.
The clinic reached out to the public with health fairs, free blood pressure checks and blood glucose testing, and offered diabetics a place to meet others facing the same issues with regularly scheduled diabetes and weight loss support groups.
Funded in part by the J. Marion Sims Foundation, private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, the clinic also offered sliding-scale fees for uninsured members of the community who could not afford its services.
For now, the Diabetes Education Clinic can still be reached at (803) 313-7450.
To make an appointment for nutritional counseling, call (803) 313-7450. For more information about Gregory Health and Wellness Center services, call (803) 313-7102.
Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151