SPARTANBURG, S.C. – As a Bonner Scholar at Wofford College, Megan Tyler ’14 is expected to give of herself. The program is based in community service, with scholarship recipients participating in at least 10 hours of volunteer service each week during the academic year and 280 hours over each of at least two summers.

Tyler has taken that another step, though. Through the program’s Bonner Community Fund, she was able to obtain a $4,000 grant for St. Luke’s Free Medical Clinic in Spartanburg to provide five new laptop computers and a scanner for the facility that serves more than 3,000 residents with health care services. 

“I’ve always been interested in the health care field, specifically the access or lack of access to health care for an individual,” the biology major from Gaffney, S.C., says. “St. Luke’s Free Medical Clinic provides comprehensive health services to Spartanburg County residents who lack insurance. This service is so important and such an asset to the Spartanburg community. St. Luke’s goals and mission align closely with my specific interest in the health care field, which is why I wanted to become involved with them and serve there.” 

The new equipment allowed the clinic to do an electronic medical records conversion (EMR), making serving its constituents more efficient and saving the clinic money. “EMR conversion is something that for-profit doctors’ offices have been doing for the past decade or so, and something St. Luke’s knew they needed to do.” 

The clinic had been tracking its patients entirely on paper before the conversion, which was problematic – the paper chart supplies were costly, and volunteers spent a lot of valuable time assembling, filing and retrieving charts rather than focusing on serving the patients. The system also required a huge storage area for physical charts, and tended to be disorganized and inefficient, Tyler says.

“EMR conversion will allow St. Luke’s to reallocate the money they had to spend on maintaining physical charts, will give them more space because physical charts will no longer have to stored, and will allow their volunteers to direct their time and effort into more meaningful outcomes for the clinic, such as more efficient patient care,” she says. “In addition, St. Luke’s will be able to organize, maintain, Update and locate everyone’s charts and files much more efficiently due to EMR conversion.”

During her time volunteering at the clinic, Tyler has worked extensively during both the night clinic and regular office hours – taking vital signs, updating charts, scheduling appointments, doing data entry and working with eligibility specialists.

“Over the past several years at St. Luke’s, I have had the opportunity to build close relationships with the people who work there, and I believe in what they are doing as an organization,” says Tyler, who plans to go to graduate school and into the health care field after Wofford. “I’ve been fortunate enough to know a handful of people in my life who are truly selfless, kind and make sacrifices for others. The people at St. Luke’s embody these traits and have given to me much more than I could ever have given them. I wanted to find a way to give back to St. Luke’s.”

It’s why she applied for the grant for the computers and scanner. “Their biggest obstacle to their goal of an EMR conversion was lack of funding,” she adds. “I wanted to secure the grant for St. Luke’s so that they could complete the EMR conversion and by doing so, give back to a wonderful place with compassionate people who will always be special to me.”

Tyler adds that being a Bonner Scholar is what enabled her to attend Wofford, and it has enhanced her college experience greatly. “The Bonner Program has provided me with multiple opportunities to engage in community service activities, develop a personal network within the Spartanburg community, and pursue my academic interests through service. In addition, being a Bonner Scholar has enabled me to gain extensive experience in service work and civic engagement.”

She plans to remain involved in non-profit organizations such as St. Luke’s Free Clinic after graduation.