Alicia Sands Lurry, 404/616-6389, email@example.com
|June 12, 2003|
ATLANTA — Plans are underway to address the growing Hispanic patient population at the Community Health Center of North Fulton, which has more than quadrupled in the past nine years. Leading the effort is Rachel Schonberger, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine and Director, Division of Community Medicine, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Schonberger is working with officials at Grady Health System, which oversees the Roswell-based clinic, to open a new building as early as 2004. Once a new clinic is open, Grady plans to build a facility that will adequately serve the healthcare needs of the north Fulton community, with plans to triple clinic space with more exam rooms, patient education, medical records and conference space.
In a very limited space, the clinic now provides comprehensive, primary care for pediatric, obstetric and adult patients, and houses a pharmacy, nursing station, financial counseling office, x-ray and ultrasound rooms and medical lab all on one site. In 2002, the clinic saw 17,437 patients, up from just 3,000 in 1993.
Dr. Schonberger said the growth of the Hispanic community and good medical care are the primary reasons the clinic has grown. She also notes that Grady has a long history of responding to the medical needs of the north Fulton community, which began in 1976 when the clinic first opened. "We start with preventive care, from the cradle to the grave," Dr. Schonberger said. "This clinic is an enormous resource for this part of the county, especially since we have a lot of working, uninsured people here."
The clinic, also known by community residents as Clinica de la Piedra, or the Stone Clinic, serves a growing number of Hispanic patients, the majority of whom deliver babies at Grady Hospital. Although 85 percent of its patients are Hispanic, the clinic also sees a large number of Asians, Africans, Haitians and West Africans. Because of the quality of care, patients with insurance come from as far away as Suwanee, Cumming and other communities outside of Fulton and DeKalb counties.
Due to the large foreign patient population, many of the staff at the Community Center of North Fulton is bilingual. There are two registered interpreters, a French-speaking obstetrical nurse practitioner, and a chief pediatric nurse, who is a registered language interpreter.
Ann Hoos-Young, MD, assistant professor at the Emory University School of Medicine in the Department of Family, Community and Preventive Medicine, and medical director of the north Fulton clinic, said although the clinical space is confined, her patients are grateful for the excellent medical care they receive.
"Our patients feel well cared for here," Dr. Hoos-Young said. "They come because of word of mouth. People tell their friends about us, and they come to us."