That Was Then & This is Now
During January and February of 2020, life seemed relatively predictable (Or so we thought). We pursued our daily routines, enjoyed relationships, and made hopeful plans (Today, we refer to this time as “the good old days”!). We might have been somewhat aware of a virus that originated in China but most of us didn’t consider it would be a matter of great personal concern (We all know more firsthand about a novel coronavirus than we had ever hoped to learn).
Then, on March 2, the first COVID-19 case in Georgia was documented, and on March 13, a national emergency was declared. Swiftly, life as we knew it came to a halt, and now the life we foresee when the pandemic recedes isn’t a universal vision (This remains true today). Some see a return to normal while others predict a new normal that includes long-term changes in social behavior (Honestly, are public drinking fountains now a thing of the past?). Some say handshaking is a thing of the past (I miss this form of greeting), hugging upon greeting will be reserved for a select few (I miss this one even more), and vacation travel will always be by car, never again by air (My next flight will be nearly sixteen months after the last one!).
For the Good Samaritan Health Centers of Gwinnett, we are experiencing a new normal (Thank goodness, we pivot less often these days but now and then still see the need to adapt). We don’t know yet if it will be temporary or a long-term change in the way we serve the community (and we aren’t sure even now), but for the moment we have indeed had to alter a few things. We screen every visitor before allowing entrance to the clinic (Still true today), provide some treatment in an outdoor tent instead of an exam room (Still true today), and deliver prescriptions in the parking lot instead of over the counter (No longer true). We turn away volunteers so that we have the floorspace to maintain a safe distance from one another (Sadly, still true), and we worship by conference call instead of together in a conference room (Sadly, still true, although a slowly growing number of us have returned to group worship in the conference room). Sadly, for the time, we are not holding hands when we pray (Sadly, also still true, although a small number of us have returned to this manner of prayer).
It’s not exactly how we’d hoped to celebrate our 15th anniversary (or birthdays, weddings, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the list goes on), but we are glad nonetheless that we are still able to pursue our Christian mission of providing affordable medical and dental care to the uninsured (This remains our beloved ministry work and in spite of the enormous challenges we faced, we are so grateful we were able to endure 2020 without having to close our doors). Our near-term plans include continuing our mission in the following ways:
- Serve patients only at the Buford Hwy. location until September (Since October, 2020 we have served our community with two locations).
- Provide the full range of medical care we are known for, including preventative and chronic care, laboratory, and dispensary (Still true today).
- Provide emergency and necessary dental care only until May 18th, and the full range of dental care thereafter (Our charitable dental program has become so busy that today we employ three dentists!).
- Reopen our satellite clinic at the North Gwinnett Co-op (Buford) by July (Sadly, this mini clinic recently closed after an inability to gain traction during 2020).
- Launch our satellite clinic in the homeless shelter (Norcross) as soon as its management decides to go operational, hopefully by July (After lengthy COVID related delays, this shelter and clinic are expected to open in late spring).
- Continue our construction project and complete the new home for our East clinic (Jimmy Carter Blvd.) by September (We opened for business on October 26th!).
Even though the COVID-19 crisis has adversely impacted our business, we do not believe we have been defeated (We ended 2020 in a much stronger position than we had hoped for, thanks be to God for his generous provision). We don’t know when it will arrive, but we know demand for the services we provide will return (By September 2020, we were seeing as many patients each month as before the onset of the pandemic). The year 2020 isn’t going to be what we’d hoped for (It certainly was not!) but 2021 will be better for everyone, we’re sure of that (This continues to be our prayer for our ministry and community, and we remain hopeful great good will result from this long trial. From where I sit, I’ve seen people grow in faith, unrelated organizations join in partnership in very impactful ways, and friendships develop and deepen). As servants of Christ and Gwinnett County’s largest charitable provider of medical and dental care for the uninsured, we forge ahead in faith that God will restore order to all things (We have no doubt about this!), including our current circumstances.
Our 2021 Operating Budget is $3,398,476 and patients will pay approximately two-thirds of that cost. We need your help to fill a $1,200,000 gap so that we might continue to provide high quality yet low-cost medical and dental care for those in Gwinnett with great needs but limited means. Please donate today.