The Cartersville nonprofit is looking to make the move from a referral agency, currently partnering with 55 members of the medical community, to primary healthcare facility.
“Right now the uninsured in Bartow County is about 30 percent, and those are not only just people who are poor but they’re also the underinsured and uninsured people who are working, so small businesses and places like that that cannot afford insurance. Our goal is to get them into the healthcare system because they have no other place to go,” Executive Director Roberta Green said.
Those present during Thursday’s press conference stressed the need for a physician to open the clinic at Bartow Health Access’s The Tonsmeire Center, 31 Pointe North Drive, Cartersville.
Named for the Rev. Louis Tonsmeire Sr.’s contributions, the facility features exams rooms and the necessary equipment to begin hosting a clinic for any number of hours per month.
“We can be very flexible with what that time looks like as far as the clinic, so even if you’re a full-time practitioner but you feel like you can donate four hours a month, we can have our clinic at a time that is convenient to you as well,” Green said.
BHA board member Cynthia Wainscott said the nonprofit was ready to open “yesterday,” adding that representatives would work to accommodate those interested in volunteering their time.
“The person doesn’t have to live in Bartow County. They just have to be close enough that they can get here and are willing to come here to work,” she said. “... We got the building, we got much of the operating money now what we need is the staff. Help us think about who that could be. It could be even an advanced practice nurse might be interested in coming along. The crying need we have now is for a physician, somebody that is retired, somebody that is only working part time — people and physicians are more often doing that these days. We wouldn’t have to be full time, it could be a couple, three days a week to start out.
“I think the word you could use to describe where we are today is poised. We are ready. We’ve been working for four and a half years now. We have a building, we’ve got a good staff, clients know we’re here, people who are uninsured are in the community in large numbers, what we need is the healthcare professional to step up and be the medical lead.”
Since its inception in January 2008, Bartow Health Access has assisted more than 10,000 uninsured residents with healthcare referrals and medication assistance.
To qualify for these services, individuals must reside in Bartow; have no health insurance; and be at 200 percent or below the Federal Poverty Level, for example a two-person household would have a combined income of $29,420 or less. In addition to working with healthcare providers ranging from family practitioners to dentists, who offer services at no charge or a reduce rate, the nonprofit also features a prescription assistance program.
Once a physician joins the staff, the organization will evolve into a primary healthcare home that will operate on a sliding-fee scale in which Medicaid and Medicare will be accepted and patients must be at 250 percent or below the Federal Poverty Level.
Any medical professional interested in volunteering their time or services may call Green at 678-535-7216 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Those interested in making financial contributions may do so at the office or online at www.bartowhealthaccess.org.