99.23% ; so close. But close to what? In the month of August, we saw our front doors open 2,977 times for patients seeking medical, dental, medication, and counseling services. We were so close to 3,000 customers I was tempted to stay open late Friday evening of August 31st just to see if twenty-three more people would walk in. We did not, it was a holiday weekend after all and the Good Samaritan Health Center staff were tired from such a busy month, so the doors locked at the usual time that afternoon. It is my custom to stay behind after the staff leave so that I may work in the quiet to finish this or that. And as it happens nearly every evening when I am here in the darkened building, from my desk that afternoon I saw car after car pull into our lot on the off chance we were still open.
Last year, we served 2,150 people per month on average. The year before that, 1450 people per month. There is no doubt 2018 will be our seventh consecutive year of double digit growth in patient demand, and 2019 will certainly continue the trend. In other words, 2019 will be our most demanding and expensive year yet, and so too will 2020. I’m 99.23% sure of that.
When asked why we continue to try to meet what seems to be an insatiable demand for our services, I tell the story of the time nearly nine years ago when Good Sam Gwinnett would accept only fifty new patients on the first Monday of each month. One day I watched as the doors were locked after #50 was accepted, leaving 150 more people outside, frustrated and downcast. I’ll never forget the disappointment in the faces of the people who slowly turned around to go home and wait another month.
Why do we continue to try to meet an ever increasing demand? Because we cannot not try. Not when the reason we exist is to inspire hope in the lives of people who so often see the world through the window of a closed door. Won’t you help us keep our doors open wide and often?
The Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett is one of the most active clinics in the metro Atlanta safety net; we care for the poor and uninsured who have few other places to turn. So far this year, after logging nearly 22,000 customer encounters, our average cost per encounter is $121. Clearly, we need the financial support of generous donors to sustain our work. Please help us help others by making a contribution today. Your gift, a blessing to us, will most certainly and quickly become a healthy blessing to many others.