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Local health center serves 121 uninsured patients for free

Dr. John Kludt examines a patient Wednesday at the Good Samaritan Health Center in Lawrenceville. To celebrate its ninth anniversary, the clinic — which serves Gwinnett’s under- and uninsured residents — offered free appointments on Wednesday. (Special Photo: Amelia Tatnall)

Dr. John Kludt examines a patient Wednesday at the Good Samaritan Health Center in Lawrenceville. To celebrate its ninth anniversary, the clinic — which serves Gwinnett’s under- and uninsured residents — offered free appointments on Wednesday. (Special Photo: Amelia Tatnall)

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Several people gather in the lobby of Lawrenceville’s Good Samaritan Health Center on Wednesday. The clinic saw 121 patients Wednesday, about three times as many as usual. (Special Photo: Amelia Tatnall)

LAWRENCEVILLE — On a typical day, Lawrenceville’s Good Samaritan Health Center will see 40 to 50 uninsured patients, charging an average of $58 per appointment.

On Wednesday, the Club Drive facility saw 121 patients and didn’t charge them a dime.

A total of 44 staff members and volunteers worked for 11 hours straight Wednesday, as Good Samaritan celebrated its upcoming ninth anniversary by giving back to what executive director Greg Lang called the clinic’s “largest contributor” — its patients.

The average Good Samaritan patient has a household income of about $10,600, but their heavily discounted payments account for more than half of the center’s annual budget.

“When you tell them they don’t have to spend that $50 today, that’s a pretty significant impact on their pocketbook,” Lang said. “A lot of them were in tears.”

Of the 121 men, women and children seen Wednesday, 62 of them were new patients. Illnesses ranged from heart disease, diabetes and allergies to one case of malaria. One patient traveled from Cornelia, some 57 miles away.

Good Samaritan, which made use of two neighboring parking lots on Wednesday, is in the process of raising funds in order to move to a larger facility. Lang said the problem of uninsured patients hasn’t gone away and the need to care for those people is only growing.

“We’d like to serve 120 people every day, but we can’t do it in this space,” Lang said. ” … I’m hopeful that what we did (Wednesday) will just help people to understand that there’s a lot of need in the community.”

For more information, visit goodsamgwinnett.org.