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Volunteer Nurses Make a Difference Everyday

It takes a special and willing heart to volunteer.

“The Bible says clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and care for the sick,” said Meta Markley, a 66-year-old retired nurse who volunteers at the Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County. “This is an easy way to do what the Bible says.”

She is one of more than 200 volunteers contributing about 10,000 hours each year to the clinic. But more are needed.

Opened as a nonprofit, charitable family-practice clinic in 1998 with the mission of providing medical care to the uninsured resides of Kershaw County, CMC has grown from seeing several patients a week in one room to having a fully staffed medical facility as well as mobile clinics and a school-based health center.

Currently, the clinic serves about 800 patients annually with about 3,600 patient visits.

“I believe the two most important characteristics in any job, maybe life in general, are flexibility and a sense of humor,” said Katie Pope, also a retired nurse who has been volunteering with the clinic about a year this round. “You don’t need high-level nursing skills. You mainly need a positive attitude.”

She previously volunteered about eight years ago, but her schedule made it hard to be consistent. Once she could, though, she knew she wanted to get back to helping at the clinic.

“You can really see a difference with the patients that come into the clinic,” Pope said. “It amazes me what hardships people have and still have positive attitudes. And I guess that’s what really strikes me. Sometimes when we get a little bit ahead of ourselves or we think we have tough times, we see somebody who really has tough times. When they can have such a positive attitude, it helps puts things in perspective.”

Markley agreed. “The patient contact is really worth the effort, and the rewards are very large,” she said. “They have a good attitude, which makes you very humble. It’s seeing the patient improvement and seeing patient enthusiasm. It’s patient education and having that ‘I can do this, I can change for the better.’”

Clients of the clinic often come in with complex medical issues. Frequently, patients have not had the opportunity to receive consistent medical care, which can further escalate their medical concerns. Markley said sometimes they come in with these complex issues, and they don’t know that they can do anything about it. They talk while she takes their vitals, and she gets to educate them about some of their options.

“You have become a resource for our patients that may not have had a resource,” Markley said. “And sometimes you get the opportunity to pray with them. They’ll come in and their blood pressure will be high, and you will say ‘are you worried about something?’ And they’ll tell you what they are worried about, and I will have an opportunity, if they are religious, to pray with them. And that is a very wonderful privilege.”

Pope also said she enjoys not only being a resource, but feeling like shes making a difference in people's lives.
“It can take just a small act of kindness to help somebody feel a little bit better,” she said. “I think that when I am doing just simple vital signs, and I can show respect and smile and say something personal, that it has a positive effect on the majority of people.”

To learn more about volunteering with the Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County, visit cmcofkc.org.

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