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Funding effort underway to put Good News Clinics on hospital’s electronic records system
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Dr. Rebecca Loomis, right, and medical assistant Anna Martinez work Tuesday, May 29, 2018, inside the Good News Clinics. Fundraising is underway to buy a new electronic health records system for Good News Clinics as The Medical Center Foundation is trying to put the clinics on equal footing with Northeast Georgia Medical Center and other practices that use the newly installed Epic software. - photo by Scott Rogers

A fundraiser is underway to include Good News Clinics, a Gainesville free health care center, as part of Epic, Northeast Georgia Health System’s new electronic health records system.

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Dr. Rebecca Loomis believes the Good News Clinics and its patients will benefit greatly from a new electronic health records system simply because it can save the patient valuable time with diagnosis. The Medical Center Foundation is trying to put the clinics on equal footing with Northeast Georgia Medical Center and other practices that use the newly installed Epic software. - photo by Scott Rogers
“This is one of the best clinics I’ve seen for the underserved,” said Dr. Rebecca Loomis, an urgent care physician in Braselton who volunteers at the clinics at 810 Pine St., off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. “But that last link would make it more convenient for everybody involved.”

The Medical Center Foundation Board of Trustees has committed to raising more than $1 million to bring Good News Clinics “the same vital technology” as what it’s in place in NGHS, a hospital press release states.

The hospital system began rolling out Epic late last year in an effort to share the same patient records among its entities, including its hospitals, Northeast Georgia Physicians Group and The Heart Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

One patient chart “will follow the patient throughout the continuum of care,” said Dr. Antonio Rios, chief physician executive for Northeast Georgia Physicians Group and a Good News Clinics physician volunteer.

“The implementation of Epic will be a game changer for us in terms of improved patient care, outcomes and practice efficiencies,” said Allison Borchert, the clinics’ executive director. “We will be able to improve the clinic experience for both our patients and our volunteer physicians.”

Good News Clinics currently uses a free online service, Practice Fusion, “for our providers to document clinical visits,” Borchert said.

How to help

To give or learn more about The Medical Center Foundation’s efforts to benefit Good News Clinics, call 770-219-8099 or visit TheMedicalCenterFoundation.org.

However, the center has to use other systems, including a pharmaceutical inventory program, to serve patients.

“The providers are slowed considerably and therefore, cannot see as many patients,” Borchert said. “The Epic system will enable Good News to use one system to provide for all of our needs.”

Loomis said she sees the benefits of an integrated system.

“If you send someone to the hospital, the hospital can pull up (records of) all their allergies, all their medicines — it would save so much time,” she said. “The other side is (that) the patient I just saw had just been in the hospital and I didn’t have any of that (information).”

Good News provides medical and dental care to patients from Hall County who cannot afford health care services, do not have health insurance and have a family income within 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

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- photo by For The Times
Don and Dot Pirkle of North Hall provided a “signature gift” to kick-start the fundraising. Such donations are $100,000 or more, said Anna Dover, a NGHS spokeswoman.

Don Pirkle, a Dow Chemical Company retiree, said he noticed the need for an electronic records system linking to Epic while serving on the Good News Clinics Board of Directors.

“We have many doctors and dentists who volunteer their time at the clinic, and it would be good for them to use the same system … that they use in the hospital system,” he said. “My wife and I decided that would be an area we would like to support, so we made a gift to kick off that campaign and hopefully get the money raised to do it.”

Their move has drawn praise from officials.

“We are so thankful for their signature gift and for them leading the way for others to give,” said  LeTrell Simpson, chairwoman of The Medical Center Foundation Board of Trustees. “They recognize the tremendous value GNC has on the health of the community.”

Remaining money would come from other donors, but “we are pursuing grants through funding sources that are seeking opportunities to partner with organizations like ours and help make possible high-impact projects like Epic at Good News Clinics,” said Maggie James, signature gifts officer with the foundation.

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Good News Clinics is at 810 Pine St., Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers
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