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Inside Bulloch Business with DeWayne Grice - Clinic expands to cover uninsured in Bulloch County
Grice-H-DeWayne Web

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• Hazel Hendrix, a Realtor with Century 21, The Hunter Group, received the President’s Award from the Georgia Association of Realtors. This award is given to the individual whom the outgoing president believes provided the most guidance and/or support during his or her term as GAR President.

• Dollar General has begun construction on its seventh location in Bulloch County. The new store is being built at 21113 U.S. Highway 80 E. beside PoJo’s at the intersection with Burkhalter Road. The 7,200-square-foot store will be a traditional Dollar General store. It is anticipating a late spring opening.

• The American College of Health Care Administrators recognized Jo Lucke during Long Term Care Administrators Week. Lucke was named 2013 Georgia Administrator of the Year by the Georgia Health Care Association and the American College of Health Care Administrators.

In addition, she was awarded the 2014 Leadership in Innovation award by the Georgia Health Care Association. Lucke was a member of the first graduating class of the GHCA Georgia Leader Program.

As the ACHCA Professional and Personal Development chairwoman of the Georgia chapter, she has a goal of establishing student chapters this year.

If you follow health care at all, you know that Georgia is one of 21 states that decided not to expand Medicaid as part of its implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

That decision put us behind only Texas for having the highest number of uninsured residents in the nation. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 31 percent of families living under 200 percent of the federal poverty level in Georgia are uninsured. In Bulloch County alone, the number of uninsured individuals below this threshold is more than 21,000.

Thousands more are underinsured because they have unobtainable, high deductibles or they cannot afford supplemental Medicare policies, which reduce or remove co-pays and deductibles for senior adults.

In states not expanding Medicaid, there are some provisions in the ACA redirecting a small part of the funds that would have gone toward the expansion to help fund additional "sliding scale" health clinics. The clinics are staffed with physicians, nurse practitioners, physician's assistants and nurses that will offer treatment for as low as $25, with many of your meds free or deeply discounted, if you fall below 200 percent of the poverty level.

In January, Swainsboro-based East Georgia Healthcare Center, which is not affiliated with East Georgia Regional Medical Center, opened Statesboro Pediatrics and Family Healthcare at 1570 Brampton Ave. as a "sliding scale" clinic. The new facility is located just off the bypass between the new Parker's and Wall Orthodontics. I view the clinic as an oasis to thousands of uninsured people in our community.

East Georgia Healthcare Center was founded in 1993 by two Swainsboro doctors, Dr. Jim Clifton and Dr. Tim Palmer, who wanted to help the uninsured population in that area. They hired Jennie Wren Denmark as their CEO and opened their first clinic in Swainsboro in 1994. Now, the nonprofit community-based medical facility has nine locations: Swainsboro, Reidsville, Soperton, Metter, Mount Vernon, Vidalia, Statesboro, Baxley and Wadley. They are governed by a local board of directors, of which 51 percent are active patients.

The center currently has 94 employees, including five family physicians, two pediatricians, 11 nurse practitioners and/or physician's assistants, two part-time dentists and one part-time hygienist. It has an annual budget of $8 million, of which $4 million is generated from fees. It has more than 26,512 established patients, and patient visits for 2014 exceeded 38,000. Of those patients, 49 percent were uninsured, 27 percent are Medicaid patients, 12 percent Medicare patients and 12 percent have private insurance.

East Georgia Healthcare came to Statesboro in 2009 when it purchased Statesboro Pediatrics on Savannah Avenue. Because of the growth of that practice and the demand for adult care, it built the new office and relocated there late last year and added family medicine, hence the new name, "Statesboro Pediatrics and Family Healthcare."

"We were seeing over 1,000 adult patients from Bulloch County already in our Swainsboro and Metter offices, which led us to expand our services in Statesboro," Wren-Denmark said. "Our mission is to promote and provide high quality, comprehensive health care regardless of their ability to pay. Our clinics are unique public/private partnerships, and we could not survive without our partners like Georgia Southern University, Ogeechee Technical College, East Georgia (State) College, Bulloch County Public Health Department and East Georgia Regional Medical Center, just to name a few."

In addition to the clinics, the center also has a mobile unit to treat seasonal migrant agriculture workers in the fields at no cost to the farmer or the workers. Last year the center had 2,377 workers as patients and had 4,704 patient visits. The mobile unit also is accessible for local churches, schools and civic clubs that are coordinating large events and want to add a health-care component.

If you are a farmer, church or a civic club and would like to schedule the mobile unit at no cost to you or the patients they serve, you can contact Jennie Wren at (912) 764-9196.

Please email DeWayne at dgrice@statesboroherald.com or give him a call at (912) 489-9499.

Business Ticker

• Hazel Hendrix, a Realtor with Century 21, The Hunter Group, received the President's Award from the Georgia Association of Realtors. This award is given to the individual whom the outgoing president believes provided the most guidance and/or support during his or her term as GAR President.

• Dollar General has begun construction on its seventh location in Bulloch County. The new store is being built at 21113 U.S. Highway 80 E. beside PoJo's at the intersection with Burkhalter Road. The 7,200-square-foot store will be a traditional Dollar General store. It is anticipating a late spring opening.

• The American College of Health Care Administrators recognized Jo Lucke during Long Term Care Administrators Week. Lucke was named 2013 Georgia Administrator of the Year by the Georgia Health Care Association and the American College of Health Care Administrators.

In addition, she was awarded the 2014 Leadership in Innovation award by the Georgia Health Care Association. Lucke was a member of the first graduating class of the GHCA Georgia Leader Program.

As the ACHCA Professional and Personal Development chairwoman of the Georgia chapter, she has a goal of establishing student chapters this year.