Good Samaritan Health Center receives $15,000 grant

LAWRENCEVILLE - Thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Jackson EMC Foundation, Lawrenceville's Good Samaritan Health Center has gained an additional full-time physician assistant.

The center, which provides health care to uninsured Gwinnett County residents through its Giving Well program, hired the assistant last month, said Kimberly Adams, director of development for Good Samaritan Health Center.

"That additional medical provider will allow us to increase our patient population and see more patients," Adams said.

The nonprofit center relies on grants and donations from the community. Adams said the center applied for the grant from the Jackson EMC Foundation in the summer and received the check at a presentation ceremony last month.

The Jackson EMC Foundation provides charitable grants to organizations and individuals within the communities served by the electric cooperative. The grants are funded through Jackson EMC's Operation Round Up program, in which cooperative members round up their monthly electric bill to the next dollar amount. The difference is then donated to the grant fund. According to Jackson EMC, 90 percent of its members participate in the program, and the foundation has awarded more than $2 million to organizations and individuals.

As for Good Samaritan, the grant will ensure that the center can continue to provide primary health, dental and eye care to Gwinnett residents who can't afford their employer's benefits package.

"These are people who work but cannot qualify for government assistance," Adams said. "This population is growing tremendously in the county."

Good Samaritan also partners with other providers, like the Gwinnett Health System, which provides lab and imaging services to the center free of charge.

"They understand that facilities like ours help to keep (uninsured patients) out of the emergency room," Adams said.

Medical professionals are also encouraged to volunteer, Adams said. Whether it's once a month or once a week, doctors, nurses, medical assistants, optometrists and dentists contribute their time to assist Good Samaritan's small staff.

"Our biggest need right now is dentists," Adams said. "When people don't have health insurance, dental care is the first to go."

Community members can assist Good Samaritan in its mission by participating in the center's annual fundraising events: a golf tournament in May and a silent auction and banquet in September. Donations can also be made through Good Samaritan's Web site, www.goodsamgwinnett.org.