The Community Medical Clinic of Aiken County keeps getting busier and busier.


“We are overwhelmed with people constantly calling and needing appointments,” said Mallory Holley, the clinic’s executive director.


In 2013, the Community Medical Clinic had 453 patients. This year, the number already has climbed to more than 500. The number of office visits rose from 894 in 2012 to nearly 2,200 in 2013. This year, through June, there were close to 1,300.


“We’re taking on about four to six new patients a week,” Holley said.


The Community Medical Clinic, located at 244 Greenville St. N.W., provides free health care to people with low incomes who have chronic diseases.


When health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act began earlier this year, there was some thought that the clinic’s number of patients would drop significantly, but that hasn’t turned out to be the case.


“To qualify for one of the Affordable Care plans, you need to have a certain level of income, and most of our patients didn’t reach that level; there were no options for them,” Holley said.


Meanwhile, other factors have increased the demand for the Community Medical Clinic’s services.


Workers affected by the reported lockout at AGY have come to the clinic for assistance.


A new volunteer doctor and the addition of a nurse practitioner to the staff have allowed the number of patients served to go up. Holley’s efforts to publicize the clinic through various local events, organizations and the media also have increased awareness of its existence.


“A lot of the people who needed us didn’t know that we were here,” Holley said.


Along with adding patients, the Community Medical Clinic has been broadening the scope of its services to include healthy lifestyle classes and a walking program.


The Community Clinic also has expanded its pharmacy, which doesn’t dispense controlled substances, through an association with Dispensary of Hope, which is based in Nashville, Tennessee, and distributes donated medications to charitable pharmacies and clinics.


“We pay $7,500 a year, and we can order as much medication as we want,” Holley said. “Our first order had a wholesale value of more than $7,000.”


Because of Dispensary of Hope, the Community Medical Clinic has been able to help Area Churches Together Serving and the Lower Savannah Council of Governments provide medication to some of their clients.


This fall, the Community Medical Clinic will launch a new fundraising event called the Winter Colony Cup. It will be held at Newberry Hall on the evening of Nov. 20. Participants, and even those who can’t attend, will be able to select horses competing in prerecorded races to win prizes.


Tables for eight are still available for $400 each. The cost to purchase individual horses in the first seven races that will be shown ranges from $30 to $100. The horses in the eighth and final race will be sold to the highest bidders during a live auction the night of the Winter Colony Cup.


For more information, call 803-226-0631 or email cmcaiken@gmail.com.


Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard.