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The South Carolina Primary Health Care Association (SCPHCA) is the unifying organization for  Community Health Centers (CHCs) in  South Carolina.  CHCs are time-tested models of community-based care. They represent public and private partnerships working together to improve the health status of their respective communities.  First established in 1964, CHCs are community-based, non-profit organizations that provide comprehensive, high-quality, patient-focused health care services in a culturally appropriate manner.  With a focus on primary care, prevention, education, and case management, CHCs accept most health insurance plans including Medicare and Medicaid and for those patients without insurance, services are provided on a sliding fee scale based on the patient's income and family size.  CHCs receive federal grants through the United States Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) to partially support the cost of providing health care to the nation's growing uninsured population.

CHCs are one of four types of health centers funded by the federal government under the Consolidated Health Center Program.  Core requirements for all health centers include:

  • Governance by a patient majority Board of Directors
  • Service in a Medically Underserved Area (MUA) or to a Medically Underserved Population (MUP)
  • Provision of services regardless of ability to pay
  • Provision of primary, oral, mental health/substance abuse services to patients in all stages of the life cycle
  • Board approved sliding fee scale based on patient income and family size
  • Compliance with all federal and state regulations

The South Carolina Primary Health Care Association (SCPHCA) has been working to increase the availability of quality health care to low-income, uninsured, isolated, vulnerable, and special need populations since 1979. The SCPHCA is committeed to meeting the unique health care needs of these populations and to reduce health disparities across the state by providing capacity-building services and coordinating initiatives necessary to strengthen Community Health Centers (CHCs) in SC.

Specific groups served include:

  • the uninsured
  • those with public health insurance coverage
  • chronically ill
  • elderly
  • individuals suffering from mental illness
  • those living with HIV/AIDS
  • children
  • migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families
  • and homeless individuals

These populations continue to experience barriers in accessing high quality preventive and primary health care services in the state.


Our History

May 3, 1979: Intitial meeting of the South Carolina Primary Health Care Association (SCPHCA) was held as two board members and three at-large members were elected. In addition, the board adopted by-laws.

August 3, 1979: SCPHCA   was incorporated.

1980: Three consumer representatives and one provider were elected to the board. Committees were formed and goals were set for 1980-1988. 

1982: The SCPHCA applies to NACHC for charter membership. 

1985-1986: Executive Director Edward Thomas Lucas, Jr. and staff were hired by SCPHCA.  An office was established at State Park, SC in a space donated by SCDHEC. The SCPHCA 's grant application for Year 1 was approved for $120,000. The SCPHCA signed a cooperative agreement with SCDHEC.

1987: $200,000 in State appropriations for development of CHCs was included in the SCDHEC  budget for FY 1988. Lathran J.Woodard was hired as associate director.

1988: SC CHC Director Roland Gardner is installed as president of NACHC.

1989: SC General Assembly approved a $500,000 appropriation for recruitment and retention of physicians to practice in rural areas of the state.

1991: SC General Assembly appropriated $739,946 for physicians to practice in rural areas.  More than 20 CHC clinicians benefited from the program.  Lathran J. Woodard was named the executive director of SCPHCA.   

1994-1995: The SCPHCA's budget increased by 140 percent over the previous year's funding.  SCPHCA received a grant from the National Health Service Corps to implement the SEARCH program.  

1998: SC CHC Director Carolyn Emanuel-McClain is installed as president of NACHC.

2004: SCPHCA became the grantee for the SC State Migrant Program and enters a partnership with the Small Business Chamber. 



The mission of the South Carolina Primary Health Care Association (SCPHCA) is to provide a unified supportive infrastructure that facilitates access to community-based primary, behavioral and other health care services to every community in South Carolina.


 "Access to Quality Health Care for All of South Carolina" 


 In addition to meeting the health care needs of our patients, our CHCs serve as economic engines in the counties that we serve and serve as entry level employers for many health care and administrative disciplines.

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