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May 16, 2016

Support from The Cheerful Giver Enhances Health Services for Fatherhood Program Participants

A generous donation from The Cheerful Giver, an anonymous donor through the annual Midlands Gives campaign, has enhanced delivery of healthcare services to fatherhood program participants. The $10,000 gift has been used to fund Access to Men's Healthcare, a comprehensive health care initiative of the SC Center for Fathers and Families providing health care and health education to low-income, non-custodial fathers enrolled in one of the organization's 15 program centers.

Since January 2016, 142 program participants have benefitted from direct medical services, health screenings, health education or case management assistance in securing primary and specialty care.

 A larger percentage of fathers who enter the program are unemployed or working low-wage jobs without benefits. Lack of healthcare coverage and the cost of medical treatment leads many men to ignore personal healthcare needs.  In fact, a recent survey of 1153 participants revealed that 80% of our fathers do not have health insurance and over 81% turn to the hospital emergency room as their first and often the only viable choice for health care. Perhaps most concerning is the finding that 43% of our participants said they often simply ignore their health condition despite their obvious need for medical attention. (Source: SCCFF 2013 Men's Health Survey)

"Not being able to maintain your health can affect all aspects of your life - from finding and keeping a job to caring for your children and family," said Dawn Pender, nurse practitioner and program manager of the Access to Men's Healthcare. "The health services we provide are vital to us being able to deliver our mission which is to help fathers become great dads."

Pender also collaborates with local experts to give lectures on topics such as Legal and Illegal Substance Abuse, STDs/HIV and is often called upon to provide insight on the challenges of reaching out to low-income men and addressing their unique health needs. These community partnerships are another facet of service made possible through contributions like that of The Cheerful Giver.

"When we introduced the Health Access component, we quickly discovered the overwhelming unaddressed healthcare needs of fathers," said Pat Littlejohn, executive director of SC Center for Fathers and Families.  "Investments like these underscore the fact that people do understand the importance of fathers and care about all aspects of who they are as individuals and as dads."

Staff from Piedmont Care join Nurse Practioner Dawn Pender to provide free health screenings at Upstate Fatherhood Coalition's Spartanburg location.