Bartow Health Access searching for new location
by Marie Nesmith
Aug 24, 2010 | 1929 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Croft & Associates provided Cartersville councilmen this rendering of Fire Station 4 during the Cartersville City Council meeting Thursday. Currently in the design phase, the facility is tentatively is scheduled to open in late 2011. SPECIAL/Croft & Associates
Croft & Associates provided Cartersville councilmen this rendering of Fire Station 4 during the Cartersville City Council meeting Thursday. Currently in the design phase, the facility is tentatively is scheduled to open in late 2011. SPECIAL/Croft & Associates
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Currently the site of Bartow Health Access, 550 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive will be returning to its firefighting roots in late 2011. Due to the Cartersville Fire Department needing to reinforce its presence in the area, the existing, outdated station will be leveled next year to make way for Fire Station 4's construction, tentatively set for March.

Since Bartow Health Access receives no state or federal monetary assistance, the nonprofit is pursuing all avenues to find a new home.

"Right now the city leases it to us for $1 a year. We don't have any money to pay rent so we need somebody to step up and donate a place to us," said Joanne Thurston, executive director for Bartow Health Access, which opened on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in January 2008. "If we can find a location, there's grant money out there to remodel it but we have to have the location first.

"It would be a step in becoming permanent," she said, referring to working toward their overall goal of finding a permanent location. "If we're going to spend the money to rehab it, we'd like to be able to be there for 10 years or so."

This year, Bartow Health Access has helped nearly 3,100 uninsured individuals receive health care referrals and medication assistance, resulting in more than $800,000 of medical care.

To qualify, people 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 $29,140 or less. In addition to working with about 55 health care providers ranging from family practitioners to cardiologists, who offer services at no charge or a reduced rate, the nonprofit also features a medication assistance program. Once the organization's staff completes an application, a qualified client can receive expensive medications for free.

"We've been looking but it hadn't become a necessity until now because they kept putting off building a fire station. So we do have to find a new location," Thurston said. "We'd love to have about 3,000 square feet. Our long-range plan is to add a nurse practitioner and to be able to do some of our lab draws because we can do it so much cheaper than contracting it out. So if we have about 3,000 square feet it would give us enough room to do that, to add an exam room, add a little lab, that kind of thing.

"So that's what we're looking for and it needs to be somewhere in the central area, around where we are now because a lot of our patients walk or they get Bartow Transit. I even have one guy that rides a bike. They just don't have transportation to get there. So it needs to be somewhere convenient for people to get to."

Fire Station 4's opening will correspond with the Cassville Road's new public safety headquarters, which could be operational as early as October 2011. The three-truck bay facility at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive -- featuring an office, living quarters for eight firefighters, kitchen and exercise room -- will provide service to areas within a 1.5-mile radius.

"With the move from the main headquarters here on Erwin to the Cassville Road location, which will be Fire Station 1 ... it kind of changes our coverage areas," said Dan Porta, Cartersville's assistant city manager. "So we looked at several pieces of property to see what we could do because obviously there's growth going up toward I-75, and we want to make sure we cover the downtown area with that MLK station as well as existing growth out toward 75. So we made the move to purchase some additional land there at the MLK station and make a new station there that will serve us for a number of years."

In addition to the existing fire station experiencing leaks, the new structure was needed to house one more fire truck and increase the living quarters from four to eight firefighters.

For more information about Bartow Health Access, call 678-535-7216. The nonprofit is open Tuesdays, 9 to 5 p.m., and Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. by appointment.