All in a Night’s Work

USC Upstate alum Carson Moore '13 opens an evening clinic to serve the region's children.

Carson Moore, '13, opened Carolina Children's Clinic in Boiling Springs in October. The clinic is the only pediatric evening care facility in the area, and sees patients 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Friday.

As any parent knows, it’s a given that the minute the doctor’s office closes, their child will spike a fever, sprain an ankle, or come down with a stomach bug.Carson Moore, ’13, a physician assistant, would see these families regularly when he worked in the emergency room at Spartanburg Regional. Without an evening option available, parents would take their children to the ER for medical care, which is not an ideal situation for anyone, Moore says.

But Upstate children now have an alternative. Moore and his business partner, pediatric nurse practitioner Becky Brown, opened Carolina Children’s Clinic in Boiling Springs in October. The clinic, which is open 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Friday, is there to treat all those bumps, cuts, coughs, and other ailments that crop up after hours.

“We wanted to have a place where parents would feel comfortable and confident bringing their kids, knowing that they’re going to get high quality care from people who really care,” Moore says.

Moore didn’t intend to go into medicine when he began his career. A Summerville native, Moore completed two years at Spartanburg Methodist College before transferring to USC Upstate, where he was a Spanish major. His goal at that time was to pursue ministry, perhaps in the Hispanic community or through mission work.

For awhile, Moore worked at Polydeck in Spartanburg, doing international sales and customer service. He enjoyed the job and the company, but felt something was missing. When he mentioned this to his wife, Amy, one day, she said, “What about medicine?”

The concept wasn’t completely new. Moore says his wife, who has known him since childhood, reminded him he used to talk about medicine fairly often. Moore recalls that when he was 6 or 7 years old, he once sneaked into the living room while his parents were watching the hit TV show “ER.” A character on the show had been stabbed and the medical team was working to save her life. “So growing up, for the longest time, I said, ‘I’m going to be a heart surgeon,’ not really knowing what that entailed,” he says.

Moore examines patient Jacob Fletcher. The clinic helps keep children out of the ER when they need after-hours care, Moore says.

He did know he was drawn to serving others, and his involvement in his church was what initially led him to ponder ministry as a career. After his wife’s reminder of his earlier interest, however, he began turning the idea over in his head. He had his breakthrough a short time later when his wife asked him, “Have you ever thought about PA school?”“It was like the Lord was saying, ‘Yes, that right there, I just used your wife to tell you what you’re supposed to do,” Moore says.

He knew he had some catching up to do first, though. “I went back to Upstate because I had taken maybe two lab sciences ever,” he says. For the next year, he focused on taking all the prerequisites he’d need to get into a physician’s assistant program, and worked at EmergencyMD in Boiling Springs to gain experience. He then enrolled at North Greenville University.

Moore explains that physician assistants, like doctors, go through rigorous training, but on a far more condensed schedule and not as in-depth. The profession arose out of a need to address doctor shortages, and physician assistants have helped provide greater access to care in many underserved communities.

State laws determine what PAs can do, and in South Carolina, permissible duties include seeing patients independently, writing prescriptions, ordering and interpreting labs, and referring patients to specialists. PAs work in collaboration with a physician, who is available for consultation and to review what the PA does.

Working at the clinic are USC Upstate students Khyati Patel, from left, Olivia Castaneda, Sarah Beth Woodfin, Emery Jones, and Autumn Boykin.

Moore has known his clinic partner Brown since he was an undergraduate at Upstate. He connected with her when she worked at the now-closed pediatric evening clinic in downtown Spartanburg, where he shadowed her and the clinic interpreters to get practice using the Spanish medical terminology he’d learned in class.Brown was the ideal partner for the new clinic, Moore says, since she not only brought years of experience to the job, she also had built-in name recognition. “The community adores her and knows her very well, so when I put her face out on social media, we blew up,” he says. “People were saying, you took care of me when I was little and now I’m bringing my kid to see you.”

Moore admits starting the clinic was a lot of trial and error. He didn’t have any business background, but he knew there was a strong need in the community. The pediatric evening clinic where Brown had worked closed when the owner retired, and nothing had replaced it. “My big thing was I wanted to keep kids out of the ER that didn’t need to be in the ER,” he says.

Helping to provide treatment are six students interested in becoming PAs, five of them from USC Upstate. Moore remembered how valuable it was for him to get clinical experience before starting his PA program, and wanted to offer the same opportunity to students from his alma mater. The students commit to two years at the clinic, during which time they gain the skills and knowledge to prepare them for graduate school.

Since its opening in October, the clinic has seen a steady stream of young patients, including some from outside the immediate area, Moore says. On their very first night, a frantic parent called 10 minutes before closing time to say they were on the way, and was grateful when Moore said he would wait for them. “It’s the relief of knowing somebody is here in that moment,” he says. “That’s what we’re here for.”