Photo by Curt Yeomans
Dr. Charles Johnson, the medical director for the Morrow-based Good Shepherd Clinic, uses an otoscope to check out the health of a group of tomatoes.

Photo by Curt Yeomans Dr. Charles Johnson, the medical director for the Morrow-based Good Shepherd Clinic, uses an otoscope to check out the health of a group of tomatoes.

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Did you know you can help save a person's life, just by eating a Good Shepherd Clinic tomato sandwich?

The clinic, which provides free medical services to uninsured Clayton County residents, is getting ready to hold its Ninth Annual Tomato Sandwich Party fund-raiser next month. The event raises money to help pay for the facility's general operating costs, which in turn allows the clinic to continue to provide the services it offers.

"It's our major fund-raising party," said Dr. Charles Johnson, the clinic's medical director. "We're helping about 2,500, to 3,000 people a year, who would receive no help otherwise, and it's very important we keep this clinic going."

This year's Tomato Sandwich Party is scheduled to be held on Aug. 6, from 5 p.m., to 7 p.m., at the Morrow Center, located at 1180 Southlake Circle, Suite 100, in Morrow. Attendees are being asked to make a minimum donation of $10 to the clinic, said Jim Phillips, the chairman of the clinic's board of directors.

Phillips said money collected at the Tomato Sandwich Party will go into the clinic's general operating fund, but is not marked to pay for anything specific.

Lisa Page, the clinic administrator for the Good Shepherd Clinic, explained that the money raised covers the costs of "the necessities to have the building open and operational," including utility costs.

"We've got four exam rooms, an education room, a triage room, [and] a lab," Page said. Phillips added the clinic also has an office for volunteering doctors to use for private consultations with patients.

Page said the medical facility sees an average of 30 patients per "session," or the days when it is open. She explained the clinic is only open for four hours a day, on Mondays and Wednesdays of each week.

She added that the clinic does not see people who receive any form of medical payment assistance, whether through Medicare, Medicaid or the PeachCare for Kids programs.

"The common ailments that you see here are hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, asthma, [and] most everybody has some chronic condition, and so they require ongoing care," Page said.

Phillips added: "The [alternative] option to this clinic is going to the emergency room, at the taxpayers expense, and the problem there is they do get to see a doctor, they get a prescription for their medications ... [but] no follow-up care."

Page said the clinic would like to be able to offer additional services to the uninsured community in Clayton County, including being open five days a week, but it is limited in what it can provide because it only has a handful of medically-trained doctors and nurses. Those doctors and nurses who do work at the clinic do so strictly as unpaid volunteers, she said.

"We're at maximum capacity with the volunteers that we have," Page said. "We've got to take in more medical volunteers ... [such as] nurses, physicians, specialists, [and] folks who are willing to donate their services."

Musical entertainment at the Tomato Sandwich Party will be provided by the Stockbridge-based Jonesmen Quartet gospel group, the Clayton County-based Faculty Grass bluegrass group, and Clayton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Eldrin Bell, according to Page.

She added the event will also include a raffle drawing for a 42-inch flat-panel television, and a silent auction.

More information on the Tomato Sandwich Party can be obtained by going online at www.tomatosandwichparty.com, or by calling (770) 968-1310.

Anyone who cannot attend the event, but would still like to make a financial donation to the clinic, may do so through the clinic's web site, www.godshep.org, Page said. The web site has a link to the facility's Paypal online payment account, she said, which the clinic uses to accept online financial donations.