Caring has no limits

The elementary school is silent, the children gone for years. The lights of the once glimmering grocery store no longer shine, its shelves empty for decades. Life can be hard in Columbia's poorest neighborhoods.

But Toriah Caldwell and her colleagues haven't left. "We feel an obligation to be here for those who are in the greatest need," says the University of South Carolina clinical nursing professor who directs the Children and Family Healthcare Center, a nurse-run medical practice located on Two Notch Road.

As a primary care facility, the center serves as an important alternative to emergency room care. "One of our most important roles is showing our patients how to access healthcare," Caldwell says. "In addition to providing a medical home for our patients, we teach them how to discern between treatment appropriate for the emergency room and treatment that's best offered in a clinic setting like this one."

From infant immunization and wellness check ups to physicals for high school athletes as well as managed care for chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, the staff at the center handles a wide array of health needs. "We see patients of all ages and all types," Caldwell says. "And we see everything from acne to arthritis."

Caldwell always knew she would be a nurse. As a child, she witnessed the distinction and dignity the profession offered, and realized she had a calling to help others. That desire continues to motivate her everyday. "I define success one patient at a time," she says. "I know I've been successful when I've touched a person's life in a positive way."

The healing hands of the College of Nursing's Children and Family Healthcare Center are always in reach, providing care in addition to hope. The families of this Columbia neighborhood haven't abandoned their homes, nor will Caldwell and her colleagues.

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