According to church outreach ministry director Frank Smith, many of the pantry’s clients were forced, some on a weekly basis, to choose between feeding their families or visiting a physician for illness or other health concerns.
For many, being able to do both was out of the question.
It was at that point that Smith helped form a committee of local business and community leaders to put a plan in action to provide needed health services for free to those in the area.
That idea came to fruition recently with the grand opening of The CarePlace, a free community health center at 1707 North Blairs Bridge Road in Lithia Springs.
The center, which is open Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon, already has seen more than 240 patients since it opened on Aug. 17, although its formal grand opening was Oct. 10.
According to Smith, more than 30 percent of the adult population in Douglas County either have no health insurance or are underinsured.
“We began the health center out of an expressed need by hundreds of people who used the pantry,” Smith said.
Built in partnership with WellStar, Kaiser Permanente and volunteers from licensed medical professionals, the facility is housed in a three-story, 22,500-square-foot structure which had, in fact, originally been a medical facility. A member donated the building to the church.
During its opening ceremonies, Douglas County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kali Boatright congratulated Smith and his team.
“The Douglas County Chamber is so proud of the hard work that Frank has once again put back into our community,” she said.
“These facilities, and its sponsors, have helped establish something that has been needed for a long time and I am honored to represent the chamber in this event and look forward to supporting Frank and this center in any way I can.”
The center’s all-volunteer staff is headed by Dr. James Lantz of WellStar, who is also providing his services on a volunteer basis.
The center has a rotation of physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and medical assistants who also volunteer their time and talents.
For more information on CarePlace, call (770) 489-5990.