WALHALLA, S.C. (WSPA)- If you live in a rural community, you may understand how hard it is to access healthcare.

Clemson University is working to solve this issue by opening its first rural healthcare clinic in Walhalla.

Basic healthcare needs like managing diabetes or a common cold become harder to navigate in a rural community because of several obstacles.

“Things like transportation, language barriers, patients who maybe couldn’t afford to go see some of the other practices in the area,” Clemson Rural Health physician Caitlin Kickham said.

Over a quarter of South Carolinians are at risk of dying a preventable death, simply because of lack of access.

However, physicians at Clemson said they’re working to meet that need.

“Clemson rural health was developed primarily to focus on and give back to rural and underserved communities,” Clemson Rural Health Director Ron Gimbel said.

For over 30 years the university has used mobile health clinics to serve rural communities,
but recently they opened a brick-and-mortar clinic in an area of Walhalla that physicians say desperately needed it.

“There are no other services really around, you would have to get down into Seneca proper,” Kickham said.

It’ll operate as a central healthcare location for people in Oconee County.

Kickham said, “We use lots of different opportunities to bill for services. If a patient has insurance, we accept all of the major payers, but also for patients who aren’t insured, we have a self-pay discount that’s pretty significant for patients.”

They’re hoping it’ll close the gap for rural communities in that area.

Gimbel said, “This will be what we call a hub clinic, we’re setting up hub clinics around the state in strategic areas where we can make a difference, where we believe we can make a difference.”

Another rural healthcare clinic like this one is set to open in Orangeburg next month.