Family, friends of slain Charleston pastor work to complete vision with new mobile health unit

Family, friends of slain Charleston pastor work to complete vision with new mobile health unit

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A new project, honoring slain Emanuel AME pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney, aims to bring health services to neighborhoods that need it most.

Tuesday, Pinckney's wife Jennifer, along with friends and supporters, unveiled plans for a mobile health unit, in partnership with The Palmetto Palace.

The organization provides financial assistance to families dealing with a medical crisis, particularly an ICU hospitalization, by absorbing non-medical costs such as transportation, lodging and meals.

Pinckney's best friend, Rev. Kylon Middleton, shared the story of Pinckney's inspiration for the mobile health unit.  He said Pinckney's mother, while battling a terminal illness, used nearly all the money she had traveling from Jasper County to MUSC in Charleston, in hopes of receiving the medical care she needed.

"This mobile unit would literally bring the hospital to the people," Middleton said.

Dr. Youlanda Gibbs, founder of the Palmetto Palace, said the majority of families receiving services through the organization also live in District 45.  It's the same area Pinckney served as state senator, and includes Allendale, Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton County, and Hampton County.

Gibbs said she'd worked with Pinckney since 2013 to establish the mobile health services, in an effort to reach rural communities, and residents either un-insured, or under-insured.

The unit, which will offer services like mammograms, and others aimed at early detection, is expected to cost $290,000.

The Palmetto Palace received its first donation Tuesday, and is accepting additional payments on its website, www. thepalmettopalace.com.

Since its inception, the organization served 85 families from three states, issuing more than 1700 meal vouchers, 1750 care packages, and nearly 150 hospital visits.

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