Health Transplant Clinic Offers Care Close to Home

Two years ago, Calandra Watkins received a kidney transplant. The mother and philanthropist from Gaffney, South Carolina, now works to raise awareness about kidney disease and help others experiencing kidney failure.  

For the first six months of her treatment after the transplant, Watkins received care at the Medical University of South Carolina Charleston. This required her to drive three hours to Charleston and three hours back to Gaffney for her appointments. For a mother raising daughters, maintaining a job, and running a non-profit, this was a huge hindrance.    

“I would have to travel (to Charleston) and get there early enough to get my bloodwork done and then have my doctor's appointment,” Watkins said.    

After six months Watkins showed enough improvement for her care to be transitioned to the MUSC Health Transplant Clinic in Greenville. The outreach and telehealth clinic serves patients who have had kidney, heart, lung, and liver transplants, according to Zachary Sutton, PA-C, MS, a physician assistant at the clinic.  

“We have numerous clinics like these throughout the state; the unique thing about this clinic is it’s the furthest away from Charleston,” Sutton said.    

The Greenville clinic provides outreach to more rural parts of the state that don’t have resources for transplant patients. The satellite clinic reduces travel expenses and saves time for patients by allowing them to see their doctor virtually through telehealth. In addition, patients can have their blood work and titration levels managed by staff members on site.    

“There's always a full-time physician assistant available to step in to get vitals, perform an exam, whatever the telehealth provider needs at that time,” Sutton said. “This transplant outreach and telehealth model has been really beneficial for both MUSC and our transplant patients.”