Proposed hospital could bring investors to Newnan
by Celia Shortt
(Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment in the Times-Herald’s occasional series on mental health services in Coweta County — “Mental Health: The Hidden Story.”)
A behavioral hospital at the now-vacant facility on Newnan’s Hospital Road would not only provide closer mental care access, but it would increase investments on the city’s west side, according to city officials.
“We need some reinvestment on that side of town,” said Newnan City Manager Cleatus Phillips. “We have outstanding businesses that have been there for years but are in need of a reinvestment such as this particular hospital.”
Before the interstate brought more business to Bullsboro Drive, the western part of the city in the area of Temple Avenue had more retail businesses. Some businesses remain, but a slow, steady decline continues after nearly 20 years.
Candace Boothby, president of the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce, feels Newnan’s west side is underdeveloped compared to the east for several reasons.
“First, the distance … from I-85 is a hindrance to big boxes and other retail establishments,” she said. “Second, the population is significantly less than other portions of Newnan and Coweta County. Businesses largely follow populations.”
Newnan Business Development Director Hasco W. Craver IV agrees the “most robust commercial trade area in Newnan remains those areas along Bullsboro near its intersection with Interstate 85.”
Both agreed that even with less retail business, the west side has valuable industry to serve those who live there.
Craver said the area serves residential communities on the west side of Newnan as well as those “traveling to and from Welcome, Sargent, Whitesburg, Carrollton and other communities.”
“We do not have specific numbers of businesses now closed, nor do we know for certain, the reasons that led the businesses to closure,” said Boothby. “However, Hospital Road consists largely of government organizations, e.g., school, library, and health businesses. The restaurants and utility companies remain strong, so the impact has not been as negative as it might have been.”
John Goodrum, owner of Lee-Goodrum Pharmacy on Hospital Road, has been in business at the west Newnan location for 35 years. When Piedmont Newnan Hospital moved to a new facility on Poplar Road, Goodrum lost nearly 20 percent of the business he once expected.
Goodrum said many west side customers are loyal, and those customers are keeping his business going.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” he said. “But, the behavioral hospital would benefit not only my side of town, but the whole community,” he added. “It is something that is needed, and I support it.”
Colon Hemrick is another longtime business owner on the west side. His store, Hemrick’s Super Thrift, opened its doors in 1972.
He lost nearly 10 percent of sales when the hospital relocated. The store remains open due to exceptional customer service and Hemrick’s attempts to improvise and bring in more products to drive sales.
“I think having a hospital would bring more people to this side of town,” he said.
It is unclear exactly how a behavioral hospital would drive retail businesses, but it is certain the facility would promote growth.
“We believe the effect of business growth and success would be positive as new businesses seek to service the patients and their families at the behavioral hospital,” said Boothby. “The area would experience measurable growth by moving into a large, quality building that is currently empty and creating a void. ”
“Still, the primary reason for the hospital remains the vital health service it will provide patients,” she added.