Medical sites to get volunteers for service day

The Good News Clinics began treating low-income patients in a community center at a Gainesville housing project in 1992.

Now, in a location that resembles a regular doctor’s office, Good News is the largest full-service free clinic in Georgia, handling more than 1,500 medical and dental visits every month.

The rise in the number of uninsured Hall County residents brings many new patients to Good News, where the visits are  free, and the work supported by medical volunteers, charities, churches and private giving.

The area’s high jobless rate keeps the clinic filled, says Good News’ executive director, Cheryl Christian.

Good News is one of several nonprofits and ministries designated by Nathan Deal’s transition team for its Jan. 8 day of service prior to his Jan. 10 inauguration as governor. Other health care services are included among the sites for volunteers to give back to their communities, in Deal’s “With a Servant’s Heart’’ initiative.

Deal, who lives in Gainesville and formerly represented the area in Congress, is a longtime supporter of Good News, Christian says.

The Good News center isn’t usually open on Saturdays, but Christian says she expects a big crowd of patients that day. “We’ll probably get people from surrounding counties,’’ she says.

Good News is recruiting medical personnel to help handle the Jan. 8 load. Christian hopes to have six physicians and four dentists working that day.

Volunteers from the community, she says, will work alongside clinic staff to take basic medical information from patients. If some patients can’t be seen by a doctor that day, they will be guided by volunteers to a nearby free clinic, or get an appointment to be seen at Good News on a later date, Christian says. Good News is part of Georgia’s Free Clinic Network, which has more than 100 sites across the state.

Volunteers can choose other health care service projects highlighted by the Deal team for the Jan. 8 day of service:

  • MedShare, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that recovers and redistributes surplus medical supplies and equipment – such as dentist chairs and examining tables –  to health care facilities in the developing world as well as safety-net clinics here.
  • Friendship Community Center in Augusta, which provides day services and occupational therapy for adults with mental and emotional disabilities.
  • The Dream House, a Lilburn program that helps medically fragile children.
  • Wounded Warrior Care Project of Augusta, a program that connects America’s troops to services back home.