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Charity health center announces expansion hopes

Staff Photo: Tyler Estep Dr. Greg Lang, director of the Good Samaritan Health Center, accepts the Small Business of the Month award from the Gwinnett Chamber Monday. Lang's facility has seen a 200 percent increase in patients served over the last two years, and is hoping to expand to a new facility following a fundraising campaign.

Staff Photo: Tyler Estep Dr. Greg Lang, director of the Good Samaritan Health Center, accepts the Small Business of the Month award from the Gwinnett Chamber Monday. Lang's facility has seen a 200 percent increase in patients served over the last two years, and is hoping to expand to a new facility following a fundraising campaign.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Vince DeSilva makes a good point.

"If any business would experience 200 percent growth in two years, we would be sitting here applauding them," the Gwinnett Chamber's senior vice president of membership services said. "The Chamber's applauding growth in any organization that can exemplify that type of growth, particularly in a market that's needed."

On Monday, DeSilva and other Chamber reps did just that, naming the Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett the county's small business of the month. It's not your typical business -- a clinic for the uninsured that operates on a steeply discounted model -- but a booming, and much needed, one nonetheless.

In 2011, Good Samaritan saw 3,100 patients. This year it expects to see about 9,000. It's looking to find a new, bigger home and add a dentistry practice, director Dr. Greg Lang officially announced during Monday's short ceremony outside the clinic on Club Drive in Lawrenceville.

"I'm very reassured by the recognition," Lang said, "because it tells me that we have identity in the community, that business leaders know about us ... And that's a good platform on which to go out and build a campaign to try and raise money to further serve the community in the larger facility that we're still looking for."

Current operations costs at the clinic, which receives no state or federal funding because it is Christian-based, run in the neighborhood of $770,000 per year, Lang estimated. In a new, adequately sized and staffed building, those required funds would likely to jump to $1.5 million. The addition of a charity dental clinic would be the first in Gwinnett.

Lang said his goal is to raise $3 million before making moves.

"We would like to be able to both build out and furnish the (new) space without incurring any debt," he said, "so that once we're in it going forward our only expenses are operating costs and not any kind of debt service."

The potential site for a new clinic has not been found, though Lang said he's looked at space inside Gwinnett Place Mall -- which has a lot of foot traffic, "unlimited parking" and free security, and draws the clinic's prime demographic.

For now, that's only on a wish list. The new landing place is yet to be determined.

"If somebody wants to give us a building we'll move to that place," Lang said with a laugh. "It all depends on how the community reacts to what we're trying to do."

For more information or to donate to the Good Samaritan Health Center, visit goodsamgwinnett.org or call 678-280-6630.