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Good News Clinics moves into expanded quarters

Addittion to allow better patient education

POSTED: September 4, 2013 12:17 a.m.

The recent opening of the Good News Clinics expansion has freed up space inside the original portion of the building for a dedicated rehabilitation room for patients.

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An extra 2,000 square feet will provide better education and counseling to patients of the Good News Clinics.

The expansion that began in May at the offices on Pine Street in Gainesville finished this past week as workers moved into offices and classes began in the new space.

“We moved in last Tuesday and we started having classes here Tuesday afternoon,” Executive Director Cheryl Christian said. “So we were ready for the space, ready to move in.”

The classes aren’t new, but they were held in the medical waiting room area following the clinics’ January 2012 merger with Health Access Initiative. That move made the organization the largest free medical clinic in the state, but a small conference room was turned to offices, leaving little room for meetings and classes.

The expansion now allows for private space to focus on topics such as smoking cessation, diabetes management and nutrition.

Classes also will be held there for new patient orientation for medical and dental services the clinics provide to their indigent patients, who must live in Hall County, make less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level and be uninsured and ineligible for Peachcare, Medicare or Medicaid.

Walls, tables and lighting were key features of the new space to volunteer Kaye Herth, a retired nurse practitioner, administrator and educator who had been teaching in the busy waiting room with little privacy. She taught an orientation class in the new space Tuesday.

“It’s like a whole ’nother world. It truly is set up for education,” she said.

She now also has a projector for PowerPoint presentations instead of a narrow wall at the end of a busy room.

She said the patients, too, are enjoying the new space and seem to feel more at ease interacting in the class.

“It really allows the clients to focus on what we’re trying to share with them ...” she said. “You can imagine in the lobby with other people going in and out of the doors, the clinic — here it truly is just set aside.”

The classes, which are offered in English and Spanish, typically draw about 20 patients, Christian said.

The new space allows more volunteers, as well, she added. A class this past Friday included a podiatrist, nutritionist, counselor, yoga instructor and physical therapist.

“We just never would (have) had space to have that many people teaching a class before,” she said.

Christian said education is something the board of directors has highlighted as important for the institution, which served 4,000 patients last year, including about 16,000 visits total.

“We realize that a lot (of) diseases can be managed with medication, but if we really want to improve that person’s health, we need to help them learn how what they eat, their nutrition, their activity level, it all plays an important role in their health status as well,” she said.

The addition also provides private rooms for counseling, which was offered before but typically happened in whatever office was open at the time. Christian said the patients the organization serves often deal with grief and issues related to losing jobs or homes.

Offices also were moved into the new space.

Allison Borchert, health access coordinator, said the setup was more convenient for her and her co-workers. They coordinate specialty referrals, and being closer to one another increases productivity, she said.

The changes also allowed an office in the old space to be turned into a physical therapy room, which means therapists won’t have to bounce from room to room depending on what’s available. Volunteers even raised $2,000 to buy physical therapy supplies, Christian said.

The expansion is named the G. Warren Thomas Patient Educational Center in honor of the late son of longtime clinic supporters Anne and George Thomas. It cost $250,000 and was fully funded through The Tull Charitable Foundation in Atlanta and an anonymous donor.

“This is a very caring community,” Christian said.

A fundraising dinner will be held next week for the clinics. The event is set for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at the First Baptist Church banquet hall on Green Street. It features performances from area physicians, and the winner of the Dr. Sam Poole Volunteer of the Year Award also will be announced. Tickets are $50 and include dinner.


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