Local tour to benefit free clinics

Mackie Steadman, who helps to run The Cares Clinic in Mount Pleasant.

Mackie Steadman estimates the part-time free clinic she helps run sees more than 1,000 patients a year.

The Cares Clinic, open three evenings a week, is where Steadman works with Medical University of South Carolina students and local physicians who volunteer to see patients who are poor and have no health insurance.

In addition to treating patients who are sick, Steadman and the other volunteers spend time on preventing illness, she says. About half of their patients visit for regular follow-ups. There is also a diabetes education class.

Disease prevention is the idea behind the Charleston County Medical Society Alliance fundraiser, the 2012 Kitchen and Garden Tour. The Cares Clinic of Mount Pleasant and Harvest Free Medical Clinic and Dream Center Clinic, both in North Charleston, will benefit from the tour, organized by the alliance of 150 physician spouses.

“We definitely depend upon donations,” Steadman says. “Every little bit helps. It can go a long way to providing very good health care for the uninsured population in Charleston. We operate like a normal doctor’s office. So obviously there are costs involved, including those for lab tests.”

The three clinics see more than 700 patients per month, says the medical alliance. They provide medical, dental and vision care, which can cut the number of $2,000 trips to the emergency room, it says.

While the organization wants to highlight kitchens and gardens, it’s also important to have a health theme, says Melissa Ohlson, event co-chairwoman and CCMSA president-elect. It’s a more interactive tour than people have come to expect, she says.

Local chefs, including ones from Laura Alberts Tasteful Options and Et Cetera Gourmet Food Shoppe, will prepare two dishes in every home, Ohlson says. There will be a variety of things to taste, opportunities to ask questions about the recipes, then try them at home, she says.

In addition, those taking the tour will have opportunities for similar encounters with fitness experts, farmers, gardening experts and tablescape designers.

Anna Butterfield, who teaches yoga at Island Fitness on Daniel Island, says she has never taught during a homes tour before. However, she’s glad to raise funds for the clinics.

Farmers from Our Local Foods will provide tips on organic gardening at home and information on its Community Sponsored Agriculture program. Coastal Cupboard, Island Expressions and Zinnia will create indoor and outdoor tablescapes.

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.