Spring Brings Change
Source: The Island News
Published: April 6, 2022
Article Author: Lolita Huckaby
CIMS Partner Center: Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, Inc.
Forty-one years is enough and it’s time for some new blood.
That’s what Roland Gardner, the popular Chief Executive Officer of Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, Inc., has to say about his decision to retire.
In his place, the BJHCHS Board has appointed Dr. Faith L. Polkey as Chief Executive Office.
“I think we’ve been fortunate to have someone like Gardner in the leadership role for these past years,” Board Chairman Ed Allen said. “We’re also extremely fortunate to have someone with Dr. Polkey’s caliber and experience as we continue our stellar history of providing healthcare to the citizens of the Lowcountry.”
Gardner, whose official last day was April 1, has seen the medical health services grow from its initial offices in Chelsea to a multi-county agency with facilities in 10 locations and a staff of more than 300. The program includes three mobile health vans and a third through a partnership with the Ronald McDonald House, an agricultural migrant medical program and an in-school program at 24 schools where more than 2,000 students are seen.
When Gardner took the reins of the agency from former director Thomas Barnwell, the operating budget was $2.1 million, largely federal funding. It’s grown to $26 million, largely supported by patient fees and non-profit contributions.
BJHCHS’s reputation as one of the nation’s leading community health services has also grown and Gardner’s recent years have included trips to Washington, testifying before Congressional committees as to the effectiveness of rural programs as board chairman of the National Association of Community Health Centers and president of the South Carolina Primary Healthcare Association.
“It’s been an interesting time especially during the height of COVID, but I believe the need and effectiveness of programs like ours has been established from those early days when the agency was started almost as a pilot project for rural health care,” Gardner said in a recent interview.
Under his leadership, BJHCHS became one of 11 community health centers to partner with A.T. Still University providing training experience for students specializing in osteopathic medicine.