PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: Good Samaritan Health Center celebrates eighth year

Greg Lang

Greg Lang

The Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett is a non-profit organization serving the uninsured. This month we celebrate our eighth year providing low cost healthcare to the needy of Gwinnett County.

We are committed to caring for the indigent and working poor who do not have health insurance. Our mission is to demonstrate the love of Christ by providing affordable healthcare to those who may not have access to medical services. Our services are provided to all patients regardless of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin or immigration status. We are a faith-based organization and our services are available to all.

The Center’s patients are predominately women (75 percent), Latino (60 percent), about 40 years old (age range: 2-88), with a median household income of $13,084. Since its opening in 2005 it has served more than 10,000 unique individuals. In 2012 we provided 5860 medical visits to 2687 unique individuals. We expect to deliver as many as 8000 patient visits during 2013.

We are proud to announce a new program to serve the uninsured children of Gwinnett County. The Good Samaritan Pediatric Program is accepting well and sick children by appointment on Wednesdays, 9:00-3:00. Children may receive school physicals, sports physicals, well and sick care, and immunization.

The Social Security Act provides access to healthcare for uninsured children. In Georgia, this comprehensive healthcare program is known as PeachCare for Kids. To be eligible for PeachCare for Kids, children must be under the age of nineteen (19), living in families with incomes less than 235 percent of the federal poverty limit, and be a U.S. Citizen. It is this last criterion that leaves many children in Georgia uninsured. Latino children represent more than one-third of the total Latino population in Georgia, and approximately 16 percent of those children are not U.S. citizens.

Gwinnett County Public Schools System has 150,000 students, 25 percent of which are Latino. The percentage of students living at the poverty level ranges 13-51%. The Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett is in the Berkmar Cluster; 88 percent of all students attending school within that cluster are enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program. Clearly poverty is prevalent in our service area.

Further, 26.5 percent of Gwinnett County’s non-elderly adults have no health insurance. It is likely their children, at least those living above the poverty criterion for PeachCare for Kids, also do not have health insurance, irrespective of their immigration status.

We believe there are many children of undocumented immigrants in Gwinnett County who are not eligible for PeachCare for Kids and, due to poverty, are not receiving adequate healthcare services. We hope to address this disparity in access to healthcare with our weekly low cost Pediatric Program.

Does your uninsured child need to see a healthcare provider? Please call 678-280-6630 for an appointment.

Donations and volunteers are always needed to operate the Good Samaritan Health Center.

Greg Lang is executive director of the Good Samaritan Health Center. You can contact him at 678-280-6630, ext. 107 for more information.

People Helping People is a publication of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health & Human Services. For more information contact Ellen Gerstein - ellen@gwinnettcoalition.org or at 770-995-3339.