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Impact Story

Affinity Health Center

Expanding Dental Care for South Carolinians

About the Organization

Affinity Health Center was founded in 1994 as Catawba Care to serve people in York, Chester, and Lancaster counties with HIV. Over the years, it grew to provide medical care and support services to 500 patients with HIV in the Upstate.

Affinity wanted to be able to provide dental care as well. Poor oral health can lead to serious illnesses like heart disease and pneumonia, but many South Carolinians don’t have dental insurance and can’t pay for dental care. 

About the Project

Following a 2013 grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, Affinity was able to get started on dental care. The Grant paid for the purchase of dental equipment and the salaries for a part-time Dentist and Dental Assistant. The Foundation also provided valuable resources for Affinity Health Center.

In order to fully integrate dental services into primary care, Affinity works patients into the dental office schedule quickly when their doctor discovers a dental issue during a medical visit. The Dentist is committed to helping patients be seen and treated quickly.

In addition, Affinity screens patients for diabetes during their dental visits through a BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina corporate award, in conjunction with Diabetes Free SC.

“We’ve been able to address the growing needs of our patients and communities thanks to support from the Foundation and federal and private grants.” Anita Case, CEO of Affinity Health Center

How They’ve Grown

The 2013 grant was instrumental in starting the dental program and kicking Affinity’s growth into high gear.

In 2015, Affinity became a full community health center, expanding its services to additional vulnerable groups.

In 2018, they were able to open their dental practice full-time, serving patients five days a week.

In 2020, they added a hygiene practice to the program along with a full-time Hygienist and an additional Dental Assistant.

In 2022, they received a federal grant to add a dental residency program whose goal is to recruit and train Dentists who want to work with underserved communities.

Today, Affinity serves 1,582 patients – more than triple their numbers at the time of their original grant. Patients typically visit the dental clinic an average of 2.3 times in a year, driving the demand for an additional Dentist.