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Our Mission

To demonstrate the love of Christ through providing affordable primary healthcare and dental services to the poor and uninsured.

"He went to him and bandaged his wounds...Go and do likewise."

Luke 10:34-37

Blog / News

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Hearing talk of the Presidential Election results everywhere I turn these days, I am prompted to write about our First Hundred...

November 10, 2016

Don’t Ever Quit

The Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett opened the doors of its new facility at 7:30AM, Monday, July 25th. That day...

September 1, 2016
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These days I feel a good bit like Sisyphus, struggling to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill. The difference between Sisyphus and me is I am not being punished. My boulder does not roll back to the base of the hill, but I am stuck just inches from its apex, that point where the slope changes and points downward, where gravity would begin to help me move the boulder to the other side of the hill.

If you’ve ever tried to raise money, you too may have felt like Sisyphus. Rarely is a fundraising campaign all downhill; great effort is required to convince people to part with their hard earned money in the name of charity, especially when it seems the problem historically addressed by the charity is no longer a problem.

So far in our capital campaign, we’ve raised $3,491,332 of a $7,000,000 goal. We’re at 49.9%, just one-tenth of a percent from the midpoint, the apex of our hill, and there we’re stuck. Often, we’re asked why we plan to relocate to a larger facility. The access to healthcare crisis is over, isn’t it? Perhaps you can see why I draw this parallel between Sisyphus and me.
The truth is, we served 11,989 people last year and thought we were then at our maximum capacity. However, as of today, we’ve served 8,977 people and see ourselves well on our way to exceeding “maximum capacity” by 50% by the end of the year. Contrast this to the 3,139 people we served in 2011; people thought we were busy back then. I look back and think that hill was just a small knoll!

We have six months remaining in our capital campaign. By end of December we will tally our progress and make decisions about how much of our business plan we can afford to execute in 2016. Will we be able to launch Gwinnett’s first full-time charity dental practice? Will we add a discount pharmacy to our offerings so uninsured people can obtain affordable medicines? Will we add faith-based counseling services? Frankly, the answers to these questions depend on you. You are being asked to give to our campaign, to invest in our plan for the future health of our community. I’m being direct with you but please forgive me, I’m holding up a boulder here. If you have thought about giving to this campaign, now is the time to do so. If you’ve told me you were going to give, know that I count on you to do just that. Now is the time.

One other thing about Sisyphus and me. His boulder always rolled back downhill; he was doomed to roll it to the top only to fail when within inches from his goal. We suffer no such curse; we will eventually reach our goal, abridged or not. Your affirmative response to this invitation to help me push our boulder will certainly help us reach that goal sooner than later, and, we pray, in full.

halffull

Is the glass half-empty or half-full?

People say your answer to this question reveals if you are a pessimist or an optimist. The pessimist sees the glass half-empty while the optimist proclaims it half-full. If you think this view oversimplifies the question, you might agree the best answer is “It depends.” In fact, the best answer I’ve ever heard came from a wise-cracking grandmother who said: “It depends on if you are drinkin’ or pourin’.”

I am very pleased to tell you we have nearly reached the half-way point of our $7,000,000 fundraising goal. Today, we have received cash and pledges totaling $3,410,517, thanks God. We see our glass half-full, and we remain confident you and others will continue to pour into the Kingdom to help us bring charitable medical, dental, mental health, and pharmacy services to the poor and uninsured living in the North Atlanta region.

How much will you pour into the Kingdom? Would you be willing to match or multiply Eleanor’s gift? My young neighbor wanted to help the poor; she sold water during a recent yard sale and donated her profit of $50.72 to the Good Samaritan Health Center. Imagine that, a child parting with treasure for the good of the community instead of using it to purchase for herself the things six-year old girls fancy. God smiled on Eleanor that day, I’m sure.

Ellie2

Will we reach our goal? It depends. It depends on if you are in a pouring mood.

Every month we provide low-cost healthcare services to 1,000 people, and to many we must deliver unwelcome news about Hypertension, Diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer, kidney failure, and more. Every day our parking lot is filled beyond its intended capacity, and every afternoon people knock repeatedly on the front door long after we’ve turned off the Open sign.

For these men, women, and children, the glass nearly always seems half-empty. Help us pour into their lives; help us tend to their physical and spiritual ailments. We pray for your financial gifts so that we might continue, even increase, our efforts to provide healthcare to the poor and uninsured.

We look forward to your gift; every $50.72 makes a difference.

May you be blessed in abundance so that you might bless with abandon!

Marcus came to the Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett for a routine physical. He had no idea he would leave newly diagnosed with Hypertension. That part of the story alone is unremarkable; many people have no idea they have Hypertension and only discover it by accident. That is why the disease is called the Silent Killer. What is remarkable, though, is that Marcus is only 14 years old.

Every month we provide low-cost healthcare services to 1,000 people, and to many we must deliver unwelcome news about Hypertension, Diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer, kidney failure, and more. Every day our parking lot is filled beyond its intended capacity, and every afternoon people knock repeatedly on the front door long after we’ve turned off the Open sign.

It has been said, “You will know the heart of a community by how it takes care of its poor.”

We pray the heart of our community is generous, compassionate, and responsive. We make this prayer because without the help of donors like you, the conditions we address will never improve.

I ask you directly to help us. I ask you to give to this ministry so that we might continue to serve the poor and uninsured. I ask you to forward this newsletter to your family and friends so that others might become inspired to help reach our fundraising goals. Your contributions are essential to our achieving an important goal – improve the health of the poor and uninsured of our community.

2015 Fundraising Goal for present location: $497,500
Funds raised year to date: $33,664
Our remaining need: $463,836

Capital Campaign Goal: $7,000,000
Funds raised Campaign to date: $3,161,817
Our remaining need: $3,838,183

Please join us in making it clear the heart of our community is a strong, generous, compassionate, responsive, loving heart! Make adonation to Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett today!

Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett, a 501(c)3 charitable entity, receives monetary and gifts-in-kind donations. A receipt will be provided to all our donors for tax preparation purposes.









2014 was for Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett a year like no other before it; we exceeded all our goals and realized accomplishments that surpassed our planning, hopes, and dreams. We submit that God did the work and we give all credit and glory to Him. All of us – staff, students, and volunteers – are honored to have played a role in delivering healthcare to the uninsured and sharing the hope of the Gospel with those who entrust their lives with us. Let me share a few highlights of our year:

1. We provided 11,989 patient visits to 4,293 unique individuals, marking a 19% increase in demand for our services compared to 2013.
2. We provided 506 appointments valued at $144,210 for free or nearly free to the deeply impoverished, and helped obtain more than 3,580 brand medication prescriptions for our patients.
3. We mentored 367 students of the healthcare profession, raising up future medical missionaries to serve the poor and uninsured of our community.
4. We became the only free-standing privately funded charity medical practice in GA to be nationally recognized as a Patient Centered Medical Home.
5. We provided 1,810 appointments through our evening and weekend clinics, helping the working poor to access medical services without taking time off from work.

Our Financial Performance:

Patient Revenue $596,166
Contributions 347,358
Total Revenue $943,524
Expenses (931,065)
Surplus $ 12,459

Reviewing our financial performance, I hope you take note of two points: first, through fee payments our patients provided 63% of our revenue, a remarkable if not stunning display of poor people trying their best to help themselves. Second, our surplus was only 1.3%, a very slim margin for a business of any kind. Please keep these points in mind as you read on…

As a father raising two girls, an oft used phrase in our home back when boyfriends came to visit was “Leave room for Jesus.” I thought of titling this newsletter Leave Room For Jesus as I planned to appeal to your interest in giving a few dollars to help a Christian ministry stay true to its mission and guard itself from the temptation of diluting its message to appeal to a wider range of donors. But I was nagged by the thought that the words “leave room” implied other things might come first, that by leaving room we might unwittingly diminish Christ’s place in our ministry, reducing him to just enough to legitimately claim he is with us at all. That simply will not do; it is weak and equivocating, not righteous and bold. So instead, I’ve titled this newsletter Make Room, using an active voice to bring your attention to this truth:

Our Christian distinctiveness is foundational to our service to uninsured and poor people with illnesses. Unencumbered by secular covenants, we can share with anyone that while physical healing can be elusive and may not occur, hope remains and salvation is free.

If you are a Believer, I lean on you to help us. I ask you to give to this ministry so that we might continue to do what we do. I ask you to forward this newsletter to your family and friends so that others might become inspired to help us do what we do. I ask you to appeal to your church to support us because without the church our battle only becomes more daunting. I ask you to work with us to make room for Jesus because if Believers do not shine, darkness will prevail.

Your contributions are essential to our achieving these important goals:

1. Raise the funds necessary to secure a new facility for the relocation of our ministry.
2. Raise the funds necessary to launch Gwinnett’s only full-time charity dental practice.
3. Annually, provide the community with 20,000 low-cost medical and dental appointments.
4. Annually, provide faith-based clinical training to 400 students of the health profession.
5. No matter the challenges encountered in pursuit of the above goals, to remain faithful to our Christ-centered identity and mission.

2015 Fundraising Goal for the present location and services: $497,500

Capital Campaign Goal for the Relocation Project: $7,000,000

We pray that we be able to continue in the pursuits of this ministry for years to come, to heal the sick and use that encounter to introduce lost people into a lifesaving relationship with Jesus Christ. Our most important goal for 2015, indeed as long as we exist, is to remain faithful to our Christ-centered identity and mission. We want to be the backbone of charity medical, mental health, and dental care for Gwinnett County and surrounding communities, we want to be that solely for the glory of God, and we ask you to give to our ministry that the work God has placed in our hands might be accomplished in his name and no other.

Make room!

We have so much good news to share with you…

First, we have provided 11,280 appointments so far this year, thanks to the generous support of those who make personal sacrifices to provide this ministry with financial support. It is highly likely we will deliver more than 12,000 visits by the end of the year. We could not introduce that many people to the loving-kindness of God’s Kingdom without his favor and your generosity. With earnest hearts, we thank you for what you have given us.

We did raise enough money to match the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia’s challenge grant of $50,000. Combined with your matching gifts, we added $100,000 to the funds set aside for the purchase of a new building, one large enough to permit growth of our medical practice but also the addition of a charity dental clinic and pharmacy to benefit the uninsured of north metro Atlanta.

The Gwinnett County Community Development Program has recommended to the Board of Commissioners that we receive $1,208,300 in block grant funding in 2015. The grant is to be used in the purchase of the new building mentioned above. We are optimistic additional funding will be available in 2016, and are very grateful to the Gwinnett County Community Development staff and Board of Commissioners for their support and encouragement of our work on behalf of the poor. Our future home is coming within reach!

After nearly eighteen months of preparation and trial, we received confirmation from the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) that we have been recognized as a Patient-Centered Medical Home. This coveted designation is good for three years. It is our understanding we are the only privately funded charity medical clinic in Georgia to achieve this recognition. Indeed, God’s work is good!

There’s more – the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce has selected our ministry to be the recipient of the 2014 D. Scott Hudgens Humanitarian Award, to be presented at the February, 2015 Annual Dinner. The award goes to thecharitable institution that best demonstrates the spirit of compassion and generosity Mr. Hudgen’s valued and supported in his lifetime. We are very proud to receive this award and are thankful to the Hudgens family and the Chamber for their recognition and encouragement.

The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce has given us other recognition. As the Executive Director of Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett, I recently received the 2014 Healthcare Excellence Award – Executive Administrator category. I tell you this not to boost, but to give glory to God and share the spotlight with my staff and pool of dedicated volunteers. I tell you the truth, I could not perform as I do without the faithful support of my work family. We work hard in tight quarters and with limited resources, but we do so cheerfully for the King! It is the greatest pleasure of my professional career to co-labor with these fellow missionaries. They pray for me and lift me up daily, and I love them for it, one and all.

It is nearly Christmas, the season of giving, a time when I should pull at your heart strings and ask you to make a year-end gift to this ministry. But I’m not going to. Instead, I want to encourage you to not get lost in the shopping, traveling, eating and celebrating of the season; I want to remind you of what Christmas is really about. I close this newsletter by sharing with you the best news of all – you have a Savior; he has come to accomplish what no other can. He has come to give you a peace and everlasting love; he has come to give you eternal life.  If your hand is not yet in his, please, let him take it. That too would be good news.

To God be the glory, forever and ever, Amen!

And may you be blessed with abundance so that you might bless with abandon!

Our newsletters have been posted about every six weeks for some time now, but this edition comes nearly ten weeks after the last one. Why the delay? Candidly, my inspiration well has been dry. We are working so hard and long to keep up with demand for our services I haven’t had time to look for my muse, much less to listen to her. I have neither a witty parable nor a poignant story to share with you now; I have only the plain truth to tell.

And that truth is month after month for thirty-eight consecutive months we have witnessed increasing numbers of people turning to us for help, and month after month we tax ourselves more and more in an effort to serve everyone. In round numbers, we have experienced a fourfold increase in demand since we provided 3000 appointments in 2011; this year we will provide 12,000 appointments. We spent $315,000 in 2011 to fund our work, and we will spend $970,000 to do so this year. In short, demand has increased dramatically and expenses have followed close alongside.

And we are not alone. A report released by the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics reveals that during the last two years the nation’s 1,200 Free and Charitable Clinics have seen a 40 percent increase in patient demand, despite the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, the report documents a 20 percent decrease in donations to charitable clinics.

At the Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett, we have witnessed that same inverse trend. While our activities and expenses have increased, our income from donations has decreased. So far this year, we have received less than half the charitable contributions given to us last year. As of end of September, we have had to utilize $33,000 of our savings to pay expenses. We praise God for blessing us with surpluses in prior years, for we are spending that now to continue the good work we do. Other clinics suffer differently. For example, the Community Health Mission in Savannah, a non-profit clinic that has served its community for 18 years and provided its patients with more than 157,000 appointments, will cease operations at the end of October. Their closing is “in response to the changing face of healthcare in wake of disappearing funding,” according to their board chairman. Those within the network of Georgia’s safety-net clinics worry Community Health Mission will not be the only clinic caught in that wake.

I titled this newsletter Leaning Toward Home because when I sat down to write it I was thinking of a too often used baseball analogy, that we have made it to third base (finished the third quarter) and are leaning toward home plate (facing the end of the fiscal year). I wondered if we’d slide onto home narrowly avoiding an out (a year end loss), or would we walk across the plate after an over the fence home run (a surge in end of year donations). But as I reached the point of crafting this paragraph, my thoughts suddenly shifted from baseball to the words of Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians, “…straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me…” (3:13-14).

We, the staff and volunteers of the Good Samaritan Health Center, are leaning toward home; not a home plate, but God. We are straining forward to serve Him. We are ready to sprint in confidence He is faithful and will provide for our needs. We intend to serve as many people in 2015 as we will this year, and beyond that, in our new facility we will provide charitable healthcare to even more as well as finally provide a full-time charity dental clinic to attend to the oral health needs of the poor and uninsured. Like Paul, we are not counting on our own goodness and ability to win the prize, but we are trusting in Christ. Rather than retreat, rather than cut back during a season of declining contributions and consequently serve fewer people, we move forward relying on God’s faithful provision. We know it will come.

I ask you to sprint with us, to lean forward with the same confidence we have that God will provide for our mutual needs. You know what I am asking of you, and you know what you can give to support the work of this ministry. Please, pray about our circumstances, and be at peace with how you decide to respond to our needs. We are; thanks God.

The Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett is one of the most active clinics in the north metro Atlanta area safety net; we exist to care for the poor and uninsured who have nowhere else to turn. The work before us is daunting and expensive; we lose money on every patient visit. In the first six months of 2014, our average patient revenue per appointment was $48.73 but average actual cost per appointment was $77.81. In short, we need an additional $30 per appointment to make this organization work, and we are on track to deliver 12,000 appointments this year. We cannot sustain our ministry without the support of donors. Please help us help others by making a contribution today.

“May you be blessed in abundance so that you may bless with abandon!” What exactly does that mean?

In Second Corinthians Paul wrote, “And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that having all contentment in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” In other words, we are blessed by God so that we can in turn abound in every good work and be a blessing in the lives of others. Paul’s message reminds me of the parable of the Rich Fool in which Jesus tells us to be rich toward God. Since he uttered those words, Christians have taken the parable to mean we are blessed to be a blessing in the lives of others and we are blessed so that we might help build the kingdom of God. It was this very parable that inspired me to pen the closing statement of our newsletters and us at the Good Samaritan Health Center to celebrate our ninth anniversary in the manner we did.

Staff and volunteers were in the building thirteen hours that day and served 121 people – 86 females, 35 males, 100 adults and 21 children. We treated aches and pains, hypertension, diabetes, thyroid diseases, gynecology problems, allergies and asthma, and a plethora of less common diseases. In all, we spent $8,372 to provide the medical care which had an estimated value of $34,249 were it delivered in a traditional for profit medical office, even more if any of the people we served that day had gone to the emergency room for help.

The Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett is indeed a ministry, and we are one of the most active clinics in the north metro Atlanta area safety net; we exist to care for the poor and uninsured who have nowhere else to turn. The work before us is daunting and expensive. And though we do not provide free services on a regular basis, we do lose money on every patient visit. Our 2013 average patient revenue per visit was $52.99 and average actual cost per visit was $84.73.

Clearly, we are unable to sustain our ministry or our role in the safety net without the financial support of donors. Please help us help others by making a contribution to the clinic today. Are you blessed? If your are, please help us bless others – make a donation today to support this ministry.

Only One Will Care

In Hollywood, during the pitch stage in the life of a movie the plot is reduced to a sentence or two, something called a logline. If the story of the Good Samaritan were reduced to a logline, it might read “Two indifferent people walk past an injured man before a third kneels down to help. His act of compassion begins a worldwide movement of people caring for their fellow man, even complete strangers.”

I am inspired by the story of the Good Samaritan, yet I take note of something rarely pointed out – the good guys are outnumbered by the indifferent ones 2:1. If the parable were taken literally, only one in three of us care enough about others to become involved in their pain and suffering. This worries me, particularly in light of current events in the healthcare marketplace. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “Doesn’t ObamaCare make charity medical clinics no longer necessary?” If the majority of us lean toward indifference to begin with, how much more indifferent will we become if we also think ObamaCare has dealt with the plight of the uninsured?

ObamaCare does not extinguish the need for charity medical clinics. Consider some data that are not in dispute anywhere in the local discussion on the pros and cons of ObamaCare:

  1. In Gwinnett County, 26.5 percent of the working population is uninsured. That’s nearly 107,000 people. Within the three city area most proximate to our clinic, 139,000 low income individuals are not served by the available public health services; in fact, public health penetration of the low income population in these cities is only 5.45%.
  2. More than 409,000 Georgians are in the Coverage Gap, that space where they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to obtain a subsidy to help pay for health insurance. Of those, 327,000 live in the metro Atlanta area, including Gwinnett.
  3. Even if more individuals were eligible for Medicaid, healthcare access would remain a problem. According to the Medical Association of Georgia, 40% of physicians are declining new Medicaid patients because of poor reimbursement.
  4. ObamaCare provides no benefits for undocumented residents. 75% of all undocumented residents live within 10 states, one of which is GA.

Considering all of the above, we do not expect a decrease in demand for charity medical care to result from ObamaCare; rather, we predict an increase in demand. Our patients will be low wage earners and part-time employees who cannot afford to buy health insurance, those in the “coverage gap”, insured individuals who have not met their deductible and cannot afford out-of-pocket fees, those commuting from remote areas where charitable primary care is not available, and undocumented residents.

The Good Samaritan Health Center is a safety net clinic; we exist to care for those who have nowhere else to turn. The work before us is daunting, expensive, and increasing. We do indeed remain necessary, will be necessary for years to come, and we need your help to do what we do – to become involved with the pain and suffering of the uninsured. Our 2013 average patient revenue per visit was $52.99 and average medical cost per visit was $84.73. Clearly, we are unable to sustain our ministry with the financial support of donors. Please help us help others by making a contribution to the clinic today.

Two out of three people who read this newsletter will be indifferent; only one will care. Which person are you?

It could happen. 

Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone is no more than six introductions removed from any other person in the world, that a chain of “a friend of a friend” introductions can connect any two people in only six steps. There’s a party game based on the theory – any actor in Hollywood can be linked through his or her film roles to Kevin Bacon within six steps.

Well, there’s a new game in town; it’s called Fourteen Degrees of Separation from a Dentist. I jest (somewhat), but this much is true: no less than fourteen people were involved recently in an effort to get emergency dental care for one uninsured woman suffering with a bad tooth.

I received a phone call from a friend asking if our health clinic, the Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett, now offers the dental care I’ve been talking about for nearly a year. She was the third person in the sequence; I became the fourth. “We do not,” I explained. “We are still trying to raise the money.” But dental clinic or not, this woman was in pain with an infection and at least we could help her with that. She made her way to us and was seen by one of our staff. By that time she had been “introduced” to four more people along the way toward pain relief. As we were treating her, a student in our office, let’s call her Number 9, learned about the case and called her father, Number 10, a dentist, but one who could not take care of this particular problem. He got on the phone and two hours after Number 3 called me, boom, the woman met Number 14, an oral surgeon who had agreed to extract the bad tooth.

A few days later, I received this email from the woman’s husband: “You don’t know the feeling of watching your wife day after day, hardly able to stand the pain and not being able to do anything about it. She is my caregiver, unable to work because of me. I am a stage 4 cancer patient. Financially, we have hit rock bottom. I feel guilty for that and her not having insurance because of me. I can’t thank you all enough for making it possible for my wife to get the help she desperately needed.”

This woman’s story had a happy ending, but so many others like it will not. Gwinnett County does not have a full-time charity dental clinic to serve people without dental insurance. When people approach us seeking dental care, we refer them to clinics in Atlanta and Marietta, clinics that have long waiting lists. This should not be the case; Gwinnett County should have a resource for offering charity dental care to its residents. The Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett wants to be that resource, but we need funding to build and operate a charitable dental clinic. How many degrees of separation are between you and the help you need, whatever form of help that may be? How can you help us reduce those degrees to just two – one person in need making one phone call to us? Let’s get this dental clinic open, and then just maybe one of you knows someone who knows someone who can ask Kevin Bacon to attend the grand opening.

Please visit www.goodsamgwinnett.org to learn more about our plans to bring charity dental care to Gwinnett County, and how you can help make it happen. Click on the BIG blue number 3.