Linda Ramey speaking to Helen Commissioners (photo Rob Moore)

By Rob Moore 

(HELEN) – White County soon will be getting a community health center.  Linda Ramey and Joy Ross of MedLink Georgia provided an overview of the planned facility to the Helen City Commission Tuesday. Ramey said the clinics are designed to meet a need in “medically under served  populations.”
Asked by commissioners if a location has been determined, Ramey said officials would be looking at a potential location in downtown Cleveland Wednesday.
 Commissioner Helen Wilkins encouraged Ramey not to rule out locating the community health center in Helen.
During her overview, Ramey clarified some things about MedLink Georgia.  “We’re not a free clinic,” Ramey stressed. She said the center bridges a gap between existing free clinics and emergency rooms, relieving load on those organizations.  “We are not competing with the free clinics,” Ramey said, noting people who can pay a minimal fee can use MedLink. “We are partnering with them.”
Ramey noted MedLink has a strong alliance with Pro Therapy for clients who require physical therapy.
“And it’s very important that we partner with our hospitals, because it’s been determined so many people go to the emergency room for non-emergent care,” Ramey said. “They go to the emergency room, they don’t pay their bill and then the hospital ends up with a huge debt. That’s happened to Habersham Medical Center, and a lot of the rural hospitals are actually going out of business because of this, so MedLink will take those patients.”
Asked by commissioners if MedLink is like speedy clinic-type establishments, Ramey said no.  “It is not quick care,” Ramey said. “It is walk-in.”
Ramey said MedLink Georgia does have a sliding-scale fee schedule for those who are not able to pay.  “Basically what that means if someone comes into a clinic and they do not have the means to pay, then their fee is based on their family income and their family size,” Ramey said.   MedLink also tries to separate waiting rooms for well care and sick care so that those who are there for occupational exams are not exposed to sick patients.
Ramey asked for letters of support from the city to help with the grants that offset the costs of care not covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.
MedLink Georgia, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation, currently operates clinics in Banks, Barrow, Elbert, Franklin, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Madison, Oglethorpe and Rabun counties.  MedLink Georgia’s mission is to improve the quality of life in the communities it serves. Services include primary medical care, preventive health, women’s health, pediatric/adolescent care, chronic disease management, care for acute illnesses, an on-site laboratory, office procedures, and physical exams for work, school or camp.
Most major insurance plans are accepted, including United Health Care, CIGNA, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, TriCare, Medicare, Medicaid, WellCare, Amerigroup, PeachState and others.
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