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A Practice of Caring

Children and Family Healthcare Practice serves a growing clientele 

Tyrone Bowens wasn’t sold on the idea of moving from New York City to South Carolina nine years ago. But he admits now the move to Columbia turned out to be good for him and his family for many reasons.

He had developed complicated health issues, and he and his family faced many challenges. Bowens is especially grateful to the staff at Children and Family Healthcare Practice for assisting him and his family in navigating the health care system. “The nurse practitioners and the staff have been so helpful. They listen and they care,” he says.

The Children and Family Healthcare Practice, launched by USC’s College of Nursing in 1997, is one of about 250 nurse practitioner managed health care centers in the country. The center has one full-time and three part-time nurse practitioners and is located in the former Midlands Shopping Center near some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. The center serves a diverse clientele, from children in the DSS foster care system and families receiving Medicaid to middle class professionals.

“The center was established as a faculty practice site to provide health care to the underserved,” says center director Toriah Caldwell.

Students from various health care programs at USC are involved in learning at the clinical site. Undergraduate nursing students work side by side with nurse practitioner students. Students from the College of Pharmacy and the College of Social Work are responsible for developing projects to assist in the complex health care of the center’s patients. The opportunity to work alongside other disciplines is part of the interdisciplinary health care education emphasized at the center.

Nurse practitioners diagnose and prescribe medications in a collaborative agreement with physicians at the USC’s School of Medicine Department of Family and Preventative Medicine. The Children and Family Healthcare Practice is an excellent example of a Nurse Practitioner Practice that increases access to care, saves taxpayers money and provides high quality care to the communities at large. In 2015, CFHC saved Richland County more than $1 million in cost avoidance by keeping patients out of the emergency room. The nurse practitioner model seems to be attractive to clients of the center, which has seen an increase in patients — nearly 175 new clients in 2015.

“Space is becoming an issue,” Caldwell says. “We might be reaching a point of full capacity and may need to seek another location in the future. We still want to continue to maintain presence here though. We’ve been here for almost 20 years. Many people from the community have grown up with us, knowing that we are here for them. The health care system is complex, and our families need to know they can depend on us. We are proud of what we have accomplished and want to make sure that we move in a positive direction”.

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