Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) have begun a statewide collaborative program called Healthy Me – Healthy SC, created to improve health care access and combat health disparities across South Carolina. The newly announced program extends the Clemson-MUSC health sciences collaboration. After nearly two years of successful pilot programs in rural Anderson, Barnwell and Williamsburg counties, the program will begin anticipated statewide expansion under the new title Healthy Me – Healthy SC.
In just over 20 months in Anderson, Barnwell and Williamsburg, the pilot programs have focused on four areas of need: infant mortality, childhood obesity, cancer prevention and pain management. Program activities include:
- Infant mortality — Establishing milk depots and holding breast-feeding education sessions.
- Childhood obesity — Providing wellness training and installing community and school gardens.
- Cancer Prevention — Delivering more than 500 screenings for cervical and breast cancer.
- Pain management — Launching programs designed to eliminate use of opioid pain medication, improve patients’ abilities to manage daily physical activities and reduce functional impairment caused by pain.
The program extends traditional clinic services by deploying a mobile health van at Healthy Me – Healthy SC sites, which will magnify the reach and impact of each location. In addition, access to the robust MUSC telehealth network and coordination with Clemson University Cooperative Extension locations at each Healthy Me – Healthy SC site allow access to top-quality health care specialists for residents in distant parts of the state.
As a founding member of the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance, a collaboration established to empower care providers and patients across the state to effectively use telehealth, MUSC is uniquely prepared to continue leading our state’s telehealth efforts. The program also builds on Clemson’s leadership in addressing health-related challenges via Cooperative Extension. Both Clemson and MUSC have a proven track record of collaborating across the state with other leading universities and health systems to improve the health of South Carolinians.
Designed to build healthier communities by establishing innovative grassroots health partnerships, Healthy Me – Healthy SC offers services targeting areas where Palmetto State residents have a high prevalence of health issues.
Made possible by funds from the South Carolina General Assembly and the support of Governor Henry McMaster, Healthy Me – Healthy SC benefits from resources specifically designated for health innovations. The program intends to leverage MUSC and Clemson’s collective expertise in education, health and community outreach – as well as the statewide reach of both institutions – to expand health care options to some of the state’s most underserved regions. Utilizing existing locations like the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service, which has a presence in all 46 counties, as well as MUSC Health hospitals in Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties, Healthy Me – Healthy SC is well-positioned to mobilize health care services on a large scale across rural South Carolina.
Leaders at MUSC, the state’s only comprehensive, publicly assisted, academic health sciences center, and Clemson, the state’s premier land-grant research institution, plan to measure the program’s success through its long-term health outcomes.
“Our goal is to build a nationally recognized health innovation program that will have measurable, positive impact on improving health outcomes in rural counties across our state,” said Ron Gimbel, Ph.D., special assistant to the provost and chair, Department of Public Health Sciences at Clemson University. “We are particularly focused on those in underserved counties where the access barriers and other social determinants of care are substantial.”
“Results of the pilot programs have confirmed the need for and the value of Healthy Me – Healthy SC,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., CEO of MUSC Health and vice president for Health Affairs, University. “This partnership has the potential to yield significant advances in health care delivery, health outcomes, and health equity in high-need counties.”
Clemson and MUSC have a long history of successful collaboration, developing programs to benefit faculty, students, the people of South Carolina and constituents well beyond the South Carolina state borders. A few of the ongoing joint initiatives include the:
- Accelerated Pathways to MUSC Professional Health Degrees, which are designed to reduce student debt by enrolling qualified students at MUSC after three years at Clemson instead of four.
- MUSC-Clemson Operating Room of the Future, in which our research teams are crafting functionally modernized operating rooms based on extensive data and provider observations of best practice.
- MUSC-Clemson Bioengineering Program, which began in 2013 and entails faculty from each organization working together to submit joint grant proposals to pursue major funding opportunities.
- Clemson-MUSC Biomedical Data Science and Informatics Ph.D. Program, designed to develop professionals with expertise in data science focused on biomedical research who can leverage big data to improve health in the state and nation.
“Clemson and MUSC have a long history of working together to serve the people of this state,” says Clemson President Jim Clements, Ph.D. “We share a vision of what we can achieve collectively that is distinctly elevated from what either of our institutions can achieve separately. We appreciate the support of the South Carolina legislature, which allows us to deploy our strengths and create new programs to positively affect the health of our citizens.”
“The Healthy Me – Healthy SC program reflects the strategic alignment of the missions, strengths and capabilities of both of our institutions,” says MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D., FACS. “By uniting existing infrastructure and resources such as telehealth, the agricultural extension network, our MUSC Health regional hospital campuses and screening vans, we can develop a series of outcomes-driven programs positioned for regular evaluation, continuous improvement and tangible impact.”