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Group honors Sen. Hawkins for Good News Clinic work

POSTED: April 26, 2009 11:02 p.m.

State Sen. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, has been honored for his work with the Good News Clinic.

The Georgia Free Clinic Network has honored Hawkins, a dentist, as the first recipient of the network’s President’s Award for leadership in aiding the poor and uninsured.

The award recognizes Hawkins for serving the health care needs of the working poor and uninsured through legislation in the Georgia General Assembly and as a volunteer at the Green Warren dental clinic at the Good News Clinic in Gainesville.

“Dr. Hawkins has been a double winner for the free clinics of this state,” said Donna Looper, executive director of the Georgia Free Clinic Network. “It’s amazing that he not only volunteers his time as a dentist in the clinic but serves the poor, working on legislation in the General Assembly.”

The award was given Sunday before the start of the group’s annual conference in Atlanta.

Hawkins, who has volunteered his time to work on poor patients at the charity clinics, was elected to the state Senate in 2006 and has worked the last two legislative sessions on bills related to free clinics.

The President’s Award honors a leader in the legislative, regulatory or legal arena for their work on behalf of the network or an individual clinic in serving the health care needs of the working poor and uninsured.

Devising a strategy for improving and expanding services for the poor and uninsured will be the focus of the group’s two-day conference that starts today at the Georgia Tech Institute Research Conference Center.

“With the economy in the worst shape it has been since 1980, our clinics are jammed with patients and many are new patients,” Looper said. “At our conference we will advise clinics how to handle the patient load, appeal for additional funding and other techniques to get through this very challenging time.”

There are more than 100 charity clinics that comprise the Georgia Free Clinic Network in the state. In 2006, the Georgia State Auditor found that those clinics have provided $200 to $400 million in charity care to about 1.7 million patients.



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