Stimulus funds may help Norcross clinic

NORCROSS - When Gabriel Onofre arrived in Georgia from his native Colombia unemployed and uninsured, he spent a scary weekend awaiting tests to determine if he had tuberculosis.

Then he had to spend nine months in treatment when the test came back positive.

So Onofre, now a doctor, is sympathetic when he treats patients with the highly contagious disease, which is more prevalent in culturally diverse Gwinnett than in other parts of the state.

"I've been through it," Onofre said during a press conference Friday to highlight the need for awareness of the disease and to spotlight a new clinic to help the medically under served Norcross community. "It's a health care issue that is very important."

The Four Corners Primary Care Center, located on Georgia Belle Court at the Norcross Human Services Center, sees 30 to 40 patients a day, half of whom are children.

Created as a partnership with the Gwinnett Board of Health, the clinic opened in late 2007 but faces a $300,000 deficit for the budget year that ends in April.

While the clinic takes Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance patients and people pay on a sliding scale based on income, CEO Shelia Fultz said she hopes to get about $140,000 in stimulus money to help with the funding problem.

"It was a dream to bring a facility to Gwinnett County where the need is the greatest," Board of Health Chairwoman Louise Radloff said. "This is a great opportunity."