Fewer than two years after opening its doors to the Bulloch County community, the Hearts and Hands Clinic is moving into a new location to expand services and better support an ever-growing patient-base.
Officials with the non-profit medical clinic, which offers free primary health services to medically uninsured citizens with an income below the federal poverty guideline, announced this week that the clinic would relocate its services to a North College Street medical office building.
Administrators for the clinic agreed Monday to a two-year rental agreement — at a reduced rate — for a building located at 127 North College Street.
Andres Montes, founder, chairman and CEO of Hearts and Hands, said the move comes as a result of the clinic having outgrown its current facilities (Son's Light Fellowship Baptist Church on U.S. 301 South, near Gateway Industrial Park).
“We are so excited that we have been able to grow this fast, and are excited to move to this new location,” Montes said. “We keep seeing more and more patients — there is a two-month waiting list for medial services and an even longer list for dental patients — to the point where we have outgrown our current building.”
The new location will provide “more exams rooms — which is the big thing,” he said. “Also, at our previous location, the waiting room and exam rooms are in two separate parts of the building. At the new facility, everything is in one centralized location – from check-in to check-out.”
Alvie Coes, Executive Director for Hearts and Hands, said a move-in date has yet to be finalized, but hopes the clinic will be operational at the new location by the final week of May, or first week in June.
“We are trying to get it done as soon as we can,” Coes said. “The new facility will definitely give us the space we need to grow. It will be a better fit, allowing more room for doctors, our administrative staff, and patients.”
An immediate payoff of the move, according to Montes, will be the ability to care for additional patients. The location also provides space for new equipment as Hearts and Hands continues to grow.
“The clinic treats, or sees, about 14 to16 patients every Tuesday night,” Montes said. “At the new location, the goal is be open additional nights and see more people.”
“We will also be able to put in a dental chair at the new building. At the last facility, we could only do screenings and send patients to offices around town. That put a burden on our dentists at their office. With our own chair, the burden is off the dentists and a lot of procedures can be done in-house,” he said. “We will also have a room for X-Ray equipment, if we can get that.”
Coes said he would like to see the clinic treat patients as many as three times each week.
To achieve that goal, Hearts and Hands, which operates with the help of volunteer physicians, dentists, community members and Georgia Southern students, will need continued local support, Montes said.
“With this new building we are facing an added expense. That is something that we are ready to take on, but we do need greater help,” Montes said. “We are really asking the community to help us out in any way that they can. We are really trying to provide a service for the community, that truly helps people out.”
“The people we see at our clinic are folks who have been let go from work because of the economy, are trying to find employment, or are already employed and just do not have the money for health insurance,” he said. “We are able to provide medications to people who can’t afford it – give care and hope to a lot of people. Our goal is to provide them support, so they can continue providing for their families and this community.”
For more information about Hearts and Hands, people can contact the clinic by calling (912) 681-9519
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.