Valdosta free clinic set to open - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta free clinic set to open

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August 15, 2007

Valdosta - Thousands of South Georgians are without insurance and when facing a medical crisis, often have no choice but to visit an Emergency Room.  "There are a lot of people that have no other choice but to go to the Emergency Room. They have no other options," says John Sparks, Executive Director for the Lowndes County Partnership for Health.

But these visits are costly and many times the hospital is left footing the bill.  "For Smith Northview, we wrote off over four million dollars last year in ER care," says Chuck Roberts from Smith Northview Hospital.

But the Lowndes County Partnership for Health is just two months away from opening the doors to its new free clinic, giving the surrounding community another health care option.  "There are probably about 25 clinics like this throughout the state of Georgia. But most of them are Macon or above," Sparks says.

With four exam rooms and a triage area, the clinic will be open to uninsured patients and provide follow-up care. Its staff consists of nearly all volunteers.  "It will be doctors donating their time and nurses donating their time," Roberts says.

Sparks adds, "From specialists to general practitioners. Its been very encouraging to see those who are willing to step up to the plate and help folks."

Despite those volunteers already signed on, they say they still need more to assure they provide the community with better care.

The Partnership says once their doors open, the clinic will benefit everyone, reducing the wait time for the insured visiting the Emergency Room while providing free care to those without it.

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