PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: Good Samaritan Health Center expands hours

Greg Lang

Greg Lang

The Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett will now have an increase in its hours of operation. The Center is now open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. two Thursday evenings per month in an effort to provide greater access to healthcare for the uninsured working citizens of Gwinnett County.

The Center exits to provide affordable access to healthcare for the uninsured. In Gwinnett County, population 815,000, nearly 11 percent are living below the poverty level, and 26.5 percent of its working population is without health insurance.

“We know that due to general poverty and high unemployment rates there are many residents of all ages of Gwinnett County who are uninsured and not receiving adequate healthcare services. We desire to address this disparity in access to healthcare by increasing the hours of operation of the Center to include nonstandard hours of care. Although women and children of all ages will benefit from the proposed expansion of hours, we expect a larger percentage of new patients who enter the Center through this project to be men,” said Greg Lang, Executive Director of the Center.

Fifty-one percent of Gwinnett County residents are male. Men in the age range 20 to 40 are twice as likely as women to die from any cause. It is commonly believed this higher mortality rate can be simply explained by one variable – men do not seek medical attention nearly as often as women, often skipping routine annual checkups and failing to go to a doctor even in the face if significant symptoms. Half the men in this age range do not have a primary-care physician, and a third have not had a checkup in more than a year. One-fourth would say they would wait as long as they could before seeking help for a health problem.

The individual consequences of men not receiving routine medical care can be serious:

• Before age 65, men suffer 2.5 times more heart attacks than women.

• By age 65, one in three men suffers from high blood pressure, a primary risk for heart attacks.

• One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, yet few will have the easy and painless digital rectal exam and prostate specific antigen blood test to detect it.

• Men are 30 percent more likely than women to have a stroke.

• Each year, over 50,000 men die of emphysema, one of the most preventable diseases.

• More than 3 million men have Type II Diabetes, a disease with major complications, and don't know it.

For Gwinnett County and society at large, the consequences of men not receiving routine medical care can be equally serious, including loss of productivity due to preventable illnesses, unemployment due to extended illnesses, increased occurrences of disability due to undetected and untreated heart disease and stroke.

The Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett has served more than 10,000 uninsured individuals and provided more than 33,000 low cost medical appointments since June of 2005.

Donations and volunteers are always needed to operate the Good Samaritan Health Center. Contact Greg Lang at 678-280-6630, ext. 107 for additional 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.