The Palmetto Project is a private, nonprofit organization that puts new and innovative ideas to work in a variety of populations throughout South Carolina. Their mission is to help empower communities by providing them with the skills necessary to contend with the problems they face. In 1993, the Palmetto Project established an Advisory Board for the Commun-I-Care initiative, to help the more than 300,000 South Carolinians who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid and cannot afford health insurance for themselves and/or their families.
Volunteer physicians were recruited to see at least one patient a month, at no charge. Advertisements were posted and information was given to the population about Commun-I-Care, including an 800 telephone number to locate a participating physician in their local area. A screening process was designed and Commun-I-Care was open for business.
Since its inception, nearly 2,000 health care providers have helped more than 27,000 people with their primary health care every Monday-Friday. Commun-I-Care now provides emergency dental care and treatment by nurse practitioners, follow-up by nurses, Diabetes Outreach Services and is starting a pilot partnership with the South Carolina Coalition of Black Church Leaders, to spot and treat low-income congregation members with hypertension in the Pee Dee and Low County areas. Other states are considering modeling Commun-I-Care.
Communi-I-Care was initially supported by a grant from the Palmetto Project. Currently, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provides funding, and the program receives various grants, in addition to free prescriptions from pharmaceutical companies, as well as help from the South Carolina Pharmaceutical Association, the South Carolina Medical Association and the South Carolina Hospital Association.