Local doctor volunteers to ‘let others see Christ’

COLUMBIA — Dr. Todd Crump offers one simple prayer before he begins his work each day: “Lord, let me see Christ in others, and let others see Christ in me.”  

Crump, 39, is medical director of the Free Medical Clinic in Columbia, which provides primary care, medication and other services to people in need. He also works full time as an emergency room physician at Lexington Medical Center.  

To Crump, both jobs are a chance for him to live out the true meaning of the Gospel and his Catholic faith.  

“We’re all called to help the poor and needy, and it’s my responsibility as a physician to give something back,” he said. “I basically share my faith with others through giving back, without preaching or shoving my faith down somebody’s throat.”  

The Free Medical Clinic, which opened in 1984, serves clients from around South Carolina. Crump said people from 18 counties came to the clinic in 2007, but most were from Lexington and Richland counties in the Midlands.

Crump began working at the clinic as a volunteer while still a medical student at the University of South Carolina. He is originally from south Florida. He said he always wanted to be a doctor, but did not pursue his dream until he moved to Columbia in the early 1990s.

He decided to specialize in emergency medicine because of the variety of patients.  

“We have to know how to do everything — pediatrics, geriatrics, whatever walks through the door,” Crump said.  

His experience in the emergency room helped him over the years as he continued volunteering with the clinic. In 2002 he was asked to take over as medical director.  

His work includes anything from seeing patients and doing paperwork, to helping secure funds and medicine. He is at the clinic three or four days a week and all of it is voluntary.

“My compensation is in hugs and occasional cookies from patients,” he said with a smile.

The clinic is open four days a week for patient visits. Crump said many of the people suffer from chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma. Prescriptions are offered through an on-site pharmacy and the clinic provides referrals.

“We are blessed to have specialists who help us out — oncologists, gastroenterology groups, eye doctors,” he said.  
Crump said the demand for service at the Columbia clinic and the 27 other free clinics around the state is increasing as the economy worsens. On busy days, the pharmacy will fill 350 prescriptions. The latest figures available from the clinic show that in 2006, they served over 11,000 new patients and filled more than $2.5 million in prescriptions.  

“Todd is huge as medical director. He puts his license on the line that what happens here meets community standards of care,” said Dennis Coker, executive director for the Free Medical Clinic. “He spends a tremendous amount of time monitoring operations. He helps as a provider here and he personally goes out and talks to physicians to get them to see our patients at no cost.”  

Coker said Crump is responsible for developing the annual Doctor’s Lounge fund-raiser, which features live, musical performances by physicians and other medical professionals. The event raised $44,000 in 2007.

Crump is a member of St. Joseph Church in Columbia, where he has even found the time to serve as assistant sacristan. He also is a member of the pastoral council and vocations board.  

Father Richard Harris, pastor of St. Joseph, said he was proud to have Crump in his parish.

“Goodness comes so easily to him. It’s second nature to him,” he said. “He doesn’t go out and look to do things to gain notoriety — he just inspires people by his example.”  

Father Harris described Crump as a very devout Catholic whose faith is reflected in his words, actions and commitment to serving others.  

“He’s an incredible teacher of faith, and how to live a good Catholic life,” Father Harris said. “He carries his faith into every aspect of his life. He was a very strong Christian before he became a Catholic Christian, and he has a wealth of love for God.”  

Crump was a Southern Baptist for most of his life and converted to Catholicism in 2004 after a chance visit to St. Joseph.  

He grew up attending church on Sundays, but was having trouble getting to services because of his work schedule. He lives just down the street from St. Joseph and noticed how many different Masses there were. He also saw how crowded the parking areas were around the church on weekends and holy days.

“One Monday, I decided to go by the church to pick up a Mass schedule, and there was a daily Mass going on, so I decided I would watch to see what they did,” Crump said. “Then I just felt it was the right thing for me. I started attending daily Mass, became a member of the parish, and then took RCIA classes. I’ve often felt the Holy Spirit led me there on that day.”  

His work at the church is very important to him, even though it’s sometimes hard to add more to an already busy schedule. Crump has learned, however, that Catholics are all called to give back to the church and since he is single, he has the time to do it.

“It’s something we all should do. If you’ve got time to do all these other things we do in life — going to the movies, shopping — you have time to give back to the church,” he said.

In his spare time, Crump enjoys running and other exercise, visiting natural areas around Columbia such as the Riverwalk, and having dinner with friends. He visits relatives in Atlanta, and recently rented a piano and spends a lot of time playing songs he’s learned by ear.  

Whether at work or leisure, the central theme of Crump’s life is giving back to others. His constant work and service was rewarded recently when the United Way of the Midlands gave him a Community Impact Award.  

“He’s a person who gives tirelessly, selflessly and sacrificially,” Coker said.

To learn more about the Free Medical Clinic, all (803) 765-1503 or visit www.freemedclinic.org.