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Good Shepherd Clinic hours expanded

By Ed Brock

The needy keep coming in for help from the Good Shepherd Clinic in Morrow, and now more of them will find the help they need.

In a small renovated house on Murphy Drive behind the First Baptist Church of Morrow, the clinic has been offering free health care to area residents who don't have medical insurance. Previously the clinic could only carry out its mission for about two and a half hours every Monday.

Now the clinic will be open from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Mondays and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Thursdays, said Dr. D. Ann Travis, the Good Shepherd's new medical director and lead physician. And the clinic will be open even more in the near future.

"We are expanding to at least two more half days a week," Travis said.

Also, Travis said she has met with the Mexican consulate in Atlanta as part of her plans to have a night dedicated to providing service to the county's Spanish speaking community, with doctors, nurses and front desk personnel who speak Spanish.

"Our concern is not where (the patients) come from. Our concern is to provide medical care for those who have none," Travis said.

It's all part of the clinic's goal to eventually be open five days a week, said the Rev. Steven Cook, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Morrow that is a sponsor of the clinic.

"But we're needing to take it in steps," Cook said. "We need to make sure that our infrastructure can handle opening more hours and seeing more patients."

For the past year the clinic's sponsors have stepped up their fundraising efforts with an eye toward achieving that 5-day a week goal. Along with the second annual "Tomato Sandwich Party" hosted by former Georgia state legislator and Good Shepherd board member Jim Wood that raised $19,400, the sponsors inaugurated a bicycle ride benefit in September.

This year's ride will be held Oct. 1 and Cook said they plan to include a fun run and walk event to make it a biathlon. The Tomato Sandwich party will be held again on Aug. 6 and Kroger grocery stores are still selling gift cards of $20, $50 and $100 and 5 percent of the amount of a purchase made with the cards goes to the clinic.

The clinic, which has been in operation since 2000, also receives funding from the Clayton County Community Foundation, the Presbyterian Church of Greater Atlanta and local churches and civic clubs.

Travis, who took over on Jan. 1 from Dr. Thomas Kelley, said she is also in charge of coordinating the other doctors who volunteer for the clinic and had been "re-motivating" them recently.

"We know that doctors are busy with their practices, but we do appreciate when they're willing to take time out," Travis said. "Right now what we need is people to give of their time and of themselves."

They could also use a new building one day, Travis said.

The clinic must depend on donations for things other offices take for granted, from business cards to the refrigerator recently given to the clinic.

"Everything is out of the love of someone else," Travis said.