Many thanks to Herb Frazier for his recent story about the Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM).  I’ve been involved since the beginning of CAJM and am presently a member of the Health Care Steering Committee.  My involvement leads me to address a quote in the article from Heather Woolwine, MUSC’s director of public affairs and media relations.

Darby | Credit: Provided

Ms. Woolwine alleged that we want MUSC to purchase “trailers” and “hand them over” to Fetter Health Care and said that it’s not legally feasible.  That’s absolutely wrong and misleading.  Let me say a word about how CAJM works and about our interaction with MUSC.

Our research leading up to last year’s Nehemiah Action identified access to health care as a problem, showed that the Fetter Healthcare Network is making a positive difference in community health and that they would benefit from two additional mobile health units — not “trailers.”  Our “ask” was simple — that MUSC provide a grant to the Fetter Health Care Network to purchase the mobile health units and cover the startup costs.

We invited MUSC’s leadership to last year’s Nehemiah Action, but the only person who attended was board member Dr. Melvin Brown, who was supportive of our “ask.”  MUSC’s other leadership initially refused requests to meet and accused us of “demanding” that they buy the units.  They relented after a few hundred emails and voicemails.

At our first meeting in April, CAJM discussed our proposal with MUSC. At our second meeting, MUSC agreed to formalize a legal working relationship with Fetter Healthcare, who was also present at the meeting. When Fetter and MUSC met with us in June, MUSC officials stated that they would fund our proposal, but in our meeting in July, they said that they’d made no such statement.

Since that time, MUSC has not responded to our requests to continue meeting and has been slow to build on its relationship with Fetter Health Care.  We believe that MUSC — a state entity that receives state and federal funds — should be more responsive to ideas that will make health care more accessible.

  • For more information about our campaign, including a timeline of our contact with MUSC and recordings of our meetings, go to http://bit.ly/cajm-health.

Ms. Woolwine seems to suggest that we’re bullying MUSC.  We’re not.  We do know, however, that entrenched and powerful entities don’t change without a push.  We’re a faith-based organization and we will push, as the Biblical Micah said, to “…do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our Creator.”

I encourage Ms. Woolwine to listen to the recordings of our meetings so that she can get her facts straight.  If she can’t find them at MUSC, she can click on the link above or come by the CAJM office and listen to ours.

I also personally suggest that she choose her words carefully in the future.  When a university hospital system — with past racial problems –talks about buying “trailers” and “handing them over” to a network founded 50 years ago to benefit underserved communities, it gives the impression of arrogance — or worse.

Darby is a fourth-generation minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church who is senior pastor at Nichols Chapel AME Church in Charleston.


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