published Monday, July 27th, 2009

Primary Health Care weighs expansion into Chattooga County

Audio clip

Erica Green

A year after Primary Health Care Centers opened in Rossville, officials are considering opening a new center in Chattooga County.

"There is a huge need for care," said Erica Green, Primary Health Care Center's community liaison. "There is only one doctor in the entire county. There are no dentists who take Medicaid, and the nearest emergency room is about 45 minutes away."

Primary Health Care officials plan to discuss the possibility of another center next month during the National Health Care Week celebration.

IF YOU GO

Primary Health Care Centers in Rossville and in Trenton are hosting a National Health Center Week celebration. A reception will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 11 at the Primary Health Center in Rossville. Another will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 13 in Trenton.

If the Chattooga center is built, it will be the third opened by the company in Northwest Georgia. The first Primary Health Care Center opened 30 years ago in Trenton, while the center in Rossville opened in March 2008.

Funding to build the Chattooga County center could come from President Barack Obama's stimulus package, said Diana Allen, Primary Health Care Centers CEO.

Community health centers are expected to create or retain 6,400 health care jobs with the help of stimulus money, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The stimulus includes $7 million for Georgia.

Willie Belle Jackson lives in Fort Oglethorpe but drives to the clinic in Rossville for routine care because, after looking for a month, Primary Health Care Centers was the first one she found that takes WellCare of Georgia insurance, she said.

The Rossville clinic served about 194 patients a month when it opened in March 2008, Ms. Green said. Since then, the average patient count has increased to about 329 a month, she said.

"You can see the increase," Ms. Green said.

Such statistics show the demand for affordable health care, she said.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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