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Proposal fuses hospitality and healthcare
Dawson considered prime location for adult community
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Dawson County is one of several north Georgia communities considered ideal for a new adult living initiative that would fuse hospitality with healthcare.


Former Dawson County Commissioner Bill Saling hopes to bring a new concept in adult living to the surrounding area with a venture into the healthcare arena, via the hospitality industry.


For years, residents have expressed a need for continuing care resources in the area. Lumpkin and Pickens counties are also being considered in the study.


“We’ve got a community here that for the last 10 years has said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have some kind of continuing care retirement opportunity after life in Big Canoe or life in north Georgia,’” said Saling, a Big Canoe resident.


Saling, who says adult care representatives agree north Georgia is a viable area for an upscale, continuing care retirement campus, is now ready to release preliminary sketches of the proposal and identify local feedback from the community.


“Our plans now are to have focus groups both in Dawson County, Lumpkin County, Pickens County and probably down in the Crabapple area to get a sampling as to the viability of the market,” Saling said.


Working with Community Health Systems, a Macon company that provides integrated healthcare services through member companies and organizations, Saling has developed a preliminary project and course of action to bring a state-of-the-art adult healthcare resort to the north Georgia region.


The proposed project would include living facilities for aging adults in all calibers of life from active to assisted, as well as healthcare from physical and occupational therapy to home nursing and personal services, medication management and many services in between.


“When you look at some of the background information, many people are not aware that those people 65 and older, by 2026 you’re going to see that population double to 71.5 million people,” Saling said. “And between 2007 and 2015 those people who are 85 and older are going to increase by 40 percent, so we’ve got obviously an aging population.”


“But the critical area that I was surprised in doing this research was those people that are reaching the age of 65 today — 69 percent are going to require a long-term health care,” he said.


Saling said 78 is the average age for seniors to move into adult facilities. “We see this project as an opportunity to lower that age by combining the healthcare community with the hospitality community,” he said.


Combining healthcare with hospitality, the proposal would include a wide range of services and include an abundance of on campus activities; such as an indoor pool and fitness center, professional entertainment, clubs and activities, similar to Lanier Village in Hall County, which caters to an active adult community.


Residents would also be able to choose from campus style housing to cottages and condos, with options to lease or purchase. Monthly fees would include meal service and maintenance for the property, and residents would also be responsible on an a la carte basis for any healthcare services they might need.


Long-term medical fee programs would also be available.


Saling said while he has spent many months working with professionals in the industry, none of the preliminary plans are set in stone.


“My recommendation is to go ahead and have a series of public presentations to basically give an overview to the public. Then if you have an interest in being involved in the focus group, you sign up at the end of the session and you’ll be invited to participate in the focus group,” Saling said.


Saling conducted a session to introduce the project to the community on Tuesday with the intent to engage those interested in participating in focus groups scheduled to begin meeting Sept. 23 and 24.


Anyone interested in learning more about the project is asked to contact Bill Saling at (706) 579-1732, or e-mail


E-mail Michele Hester at