On Wednesday morning, elected officials from across Aiken County were invited to the Clyburn Center to discuss primary healthcare services and how to maximize their benefits for the county.

"We invite legislative, elected officials to come here because we do get some funding from them," Carol Emanuel-McClain CEO of Rural Health Services Inc. "About 20% of our funding is federal funding. We get a little smidgen from the state.

"We think it's important that we keep them informed of what we do and the importance of this health center," she continued.

Funding, growth, potential partnerships with local nonprofits and new research projects were hot topics of discussion during the breakfast meeting. 

During the meeting, Emanuel-McClain said Rural Health Services has grown every year since 2014. The amount of patients they see in every insurance category (Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, uninsured) has gone up annually. 

She also discussed the amount of money South Carolina's primary health centers save the overall health system (over $600 million) and the level of access they provide to low-income patients who could not afford their care elsewhere.

Aiken mayor Rick Osbon, Reps. Bill Clyburn, D-Aiken, and Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, were among those present. So was Aiken Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco and some members of Aiken City Council.

Osbon presented a proclamation celebrating the importance of health centers and the services they provide the community for National Health Centers Week, which is celebrated the first week of August.

National Health Center Week will continue through Friday, Aug. 9.

On Wednesday, the Clyburn Center will take its mobile unit to migrant camps and provide health screenings and medical consultations.

On Thursday, various medical classes and exams will be given at Rural Health Service's three locations for Staff Appreciation Say.

A community resource fair with a mobile mammography unit will take place at the Clyburn Center on Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information about National Health Centers Week, call 803-380-7000.

Kristina Rackley is a general assignment reporter with the Aiken Standard.