Good News Clinics plans to provide health care to thousands more uninsured patients in Hall County with an expansion into a new building and renovated facilities.
The clinic will expand its capacity 60% by renovating its current facility at 810 Pine St. and moving some operations into a warehouse behind its building that the organization bought in 2019.
The renovations will add six more exam rooms, six provider rooms, four counseling offices, an outdoor classroom and other education services. All clinical services will be at the current facility housing the pharmacy, expanded medical space and dental services. Everything else, such as the education department, administration and other uses will move to an 8,400-square-foot renovated warehouse named the NGHS Health Education Center at 633 High St., Executive Director Liz Coates said.
“Honestly we’ve needed to increase capacity since 2017,” Coates said. “The overall trajectory of the clinic is we’re growing by as much as 10% volume some years. And we’ve been doing that for quite a few years.”
Good News has raised about $5.2 million since the start of the year toward the $8 million project. Hall County distributed $375,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to Good News in April along with $4 million total donated to area nonprofits.
“It is such a testament to this community’s care and concern for people,” Coates said of the fundraising so far. “I could not have expected this.”
Good News, which started in 1992, provides care for uninsured patients in Hall County with a family income within 150% of the federal poverty level. The clinic serves more than 3,500 patients a year with about 13,000 medical visits annually.
The expansion will allow Good News to accommodate 2,000 more patients a year and triple its capacity for mental and behavioral health services and eye care, planning documents state.
They will likely hire five or six more staff members as part of the expansion, Coates said. They will also need four more volunteer medical providers, aiming for 10 available providers per day, plans show.
The clinic will feature an expanded welcome center with a “blessing box” area for patients to pick up free medical supplies, shelf stable foods and hygiene items.
“Social needs navigation can be really challenging, and we are a community that is very rich in resources,” Coates said. “But connecting to them can be challenging for people in crisis. … We want to continue to work toward a social needs navigation program that will allow us to help our patients with other social determinants that are affecting their health — for instance housing and financial stability — where we’ll be able to connect them with resources that are already here.”
The outdoor space could be used for gardening and produce healthy food for low-income populations, Coates said.
“There are mental health benefits, and there is also a connection to healthier food,” Coates said.
Renovations are expected to start in early 2023, Coates said.