By Ed Brock
Starting Aug. 1 Dr. Charles Johnson will bring his 47 years of medical experience to the Good Shepherd Clinic in Morrow.
And Johnson, 80, has had a lot of interesting experiences since beginning his practice in Forest Park when Clayton County was much more rural than today.
"At one time Dr. A.W. Carter (Johnson's partner) and I were the only two doctors in the county," Johnson said.
Johnson will have plenty of stories to tell the patients who come to the clinic that provides service for patients without medical insurance. For example, there was the time he went off to a house call one night without telling his wife where he was going.
When he arrived at the house there were no lights on. As he approached he noticed he was standing on an artificial surface, so he stooped to brush away the dirt that covered the metal well cover on which he was standing.
"Had that been a wooden well cover my bones would still be there and my wife would have thought I ran off with a blond," Johnson said.
From then on he always told his wife where he was going on a house call.
Johnson is replacing Dr. D. Ann Travis as the clinic's medical director. Travis was the clinic's first paid director, but her position had to be cut due to a shortage of funding. Johnson, who retired a year ago, will be volunteering his time.
"It's something I've always wanted to do," Johnson said.
Dell Ago, the clinic's administrator, said Johnson definitely has a heart.
"You don't spend a lifetime caring for people and turn around and do it again for free if you don't have a heart," Ago said.
The clinic opened in 2000 in a renovated house behind the First Baptist Church of Morrow on Murphy Drive. It has seen a growing number of patients as well and had expanded its hours. However the same funding shortage that led to Travis' position being lost also has resulted in reduced hours.
Now the clinic will be open from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Mondays and 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Members of the community who want to help can plan on attending the annual Tomato Sandwich Party to benefit the clinic. The party will be held on Aug. 6 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the home of former Georgia legislator Jim Wood at 5676 Sequoia Drive in Forest Park.
A $10 donation buys a belly full of Wood's famous tomato sandwiches, entertainment and the chance to meet Cathy Ratio, director of the Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services who will be the honored guest of this year's event.
Call (770) 960-8494 for more information on the party.
Also, Roger 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.