By Daniel Silliman
Volunteer carpenters are finishing the addition to the Good Shepherd Clinic.
Door frames were being installed Wednesday, electricians were scheduled for Thursday, the air conditioner people are planning to come next week, and project supervisor Jim Phillips, a volunteer who's also a board member, said he thinks the addition will be done in time for the annual, fund-raising tomato sandwich party on Aug. 2.
The addition will double the space at the free clinic, which provides health care to thousands of poor and uninsured people in Clayton County.
"We are excited we'll have the exam rooms that are big enough that the doctors can actually walk around," said Lisa Page, a manager at the 1647 Lake Harbin Road clinic. "I think I might actually get a desk."
Since 2001, the clinic has been in a 800-square-foot house. Last year, 1,810 people were treated in that small space, open two nights a week, with the two-dozen volunteers trying not to trip over each other.
At the end of May, a solid, old 1,200-square-foot house was hauled in and dropped down behind the clinic, courtesy of a donation arranged by Morrow City Manager John Lampl.
The second house was joined with the first and is being remodeled to make the whole thing look like one, white, clapboard building.
"We're looking forward to this," said Charles G. Johnson, clinic medical director and volunteer doctor. "We're anxious to get in there ... We're doubling in size and improving patient care."
The new, expanded clinic is going to be dedicated on Saturday, Aug. 2, at 7 p.m.
The clinic holds an annual tomato sandwich party, a fund-raiser that provides the majority of the money keeping the clinic open. The party will be Aug. 2, 5 to 7:30 p.m.
L.C. Thomas, clinic board member, said the fund-raiser will feature Georgia-grown tomatoes, which have been cleared of any salmonella threat by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. There will also be a variety of local entertainment acts.
Last year, with minimum donations of $10, the clinic raised about $45,000. This year, they're aiming for about $60,000, though the medical director would like to see an even stronger showing.
"If 100 people gave $1,000, that would be $100,000," Johnson said. "That wouldn't be sufficient for the need -- there are 35,000 indigents patients in this county -- but it sure would help!"
Johnson said he "sincerely hopes and strongly urges" everyone to come on Aug. 2.
For more information about the clinic, call (770) 968-1310.