Free health clinic is gearing up to help Cowetans in need

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“We could go on for another 30 minutes,” said Ginny Miller, right, speaking about Dr. Kay Crosby’s presentation to the Coweta Kiwanis Club Thursday. Miller is president of the club. Crosby informed the members about the soon-to-open free health clinic in Newnan.

By MARIANNE THOMASSON marianne@newnan.com Even if you have health insurance, you probably know someone who doesn't. Dr. Kay Crosby, one of the founders of the soon-to-open Coweta Samaritan Clinic, spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Coweta County Thursday at the Newnan Country Club. Qualified patients will receive medical care at no charge.
Crosby said there are about 15,000 uninsured adults in Coweta with a 10.7 percent unemployment rate. Coweta County is one of 100 fastest growing counties in the U.S. and its income is about 63 percent of the national average. In a video presented at the Kiwanis meeting, Dr. Harry Barrow, minister of Newnan Presbyterian Church said, "We had one man who went to the emergency room for care. The people in the ER told him to go to a primary physician. Because he had no insurance, he wasn't able to get an appointment." Emergency rooms are over-used by people who have not established a physician-patient relationship. "The mission of the free clinic is to provide quality healthcare and compassionate support in a faith-based environment to uninsured and underinsured residents of Coweta County," she said. Crosby has "always had a heart for mission work." "While on a church mission trip, I thought many who need health care in Newnan aren't getting it." The people targeted as needy are "sometimes called the working poor." "They may have two or three jobs and the company may not provide insurance," she said. "They make too much to qualify for Medicaid and can't afford insurance." "I found some other people who were interested in free health care," and the research began, Crosby said. The group was unaware that there were free clinics in Georgia and visited one in Tupelo, Miss. "We've been working on the plans for two years," she said. We applied for an $80,000 grant in 2009, and we hired a consultant to assess local needs. The Newnan Hospital Foundation has promised us $100,000 a year for 10 years, she continued. The group later learned that there are 97 free clinics in Georgia and there are two statewide networks that help free clinics. The Georgia Free Health Clinic network is an advocate, dealing with the state legislature. Because of that, volunteer doctors get medical malpractice fees paid by the state. Doctors can also get continuing education points when volunteering. It is hoped the clinic will open in early 2011. It will have an all-volunteer staff except for the executive director. Luke Rainier has been hired for the position. The clinic will be located in the present Coweta County Health Department facility on Jackson Street. The county Health Department will soon move to a new building on Hospital Road when that facility is complete. "Churches have been generous. Piedmont Newnan Hospital is going to do our lab work and X-ray services at no charge. We hope to partner with (University of) West Georgia Nursing School." "The Coweta Samaritan Clinic is faith-based. We will be serving others out of our love of God and our neighbors." A Rural Healthcare Network has been formed with the Coweta County Health Department, One Roof Ecumenical Outreach, PAPP Clinic and Piedmont Newnan Hospital. These groups will work together to ensure that the free clinic does not duplicate services. The group is still waiting on the government to approve its non-profit status. "We need help of all kinds. We welcome you all," said Dr. Crosby. Laura Thomas is the volunteer coordinator and may be contacted at www.cowetasamaritanclinic.org . The next Coweta Kiwanis meeting will feature Don Nixon of the Coweta Centre for Performing Arts. The club's quarterly book sale will also be held.


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