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Good Shepherd clinic moves
Free clinic opens new chapter in new space
A-Good Shepherd move pic 1
Moving trucks back up to the former location of the Good Shepherd Clinic in Dawson County July 21. The clinic is moving to a new location behind Burger King. - photo by Allie Dean Dawson County News

Kay Parrish stands on the sidewalk outside the Good Shepherd Clinic office Friday afternoon, a roll of black duct tape on her arm. She's surrounded by the remaining items that are ready to be loaded onto moving trucks: A bookshelf, five chairs and two tables.

The clinic manager doesn't complain about the move- something she did for a living back when she was employed at Ernst and Young, or the heat, which is sweltering.

The first thing Parrish says is that the clinic will open at 9 a.m. July 27 for business as usual.
"Tuesday this week was our last day here," Parrish said. "We won't miss a week- if you can believe it."

It is hard to believe that the free clinic, located in a building leased by Northside Hospital for the last five years, could be completely moved and set back up to working order in less than a week.

But efficiency is one of the tenets of the 501c3 that grew out of a basement at Grace Presbyterian Church in Dawsonville and is now moving into 5,000 square feet of office space.

The clinic is relocating a few blocks down from its location at 200 Dawson Commons Circle to the medical building behind the Burger King on Hwy. 53.

The building is owned by Northeast Georgia Medical Center and will be leased to the clinic for at least the next five years.

"We are excited about working closer with the Good Shepherd Clinic," said Jo Brewer, executive director of Medical Plaza 400, Northeast Georgia Health System's other Dawson location on Prominence Court.

"Providing an expanded facility will help them reach a larger group of people in need of their services," she said.

The clinic will share the space with other unconfirmed occupants, but Parrish said the upgrade will still leave a lot of room for growth.

"Instead of two exam rooms, we will have four, and we'll still have our two dental chairs," Parrish said. "We will now have a permanent location for vision so doctors don't need to bring their own equipment- Dr. Burke is providing us with that equipment."

The clinic will still operate Grace-in-a-Box, its weekly food distribution, and have prescription assistance, a pharmacy, women's services, audiology and cardiology, all free of charge to eligible patients.

The waiting area is also huge compared to what the clinic had before.

"There is potential for growth, but the number of patients and days we can see them is dependent entirely on the availability of doctors," Parrish said. "We only have one doctor and one dentist who are retired, the others are all still in practice."

Parrish said she is very grateful to the doctors and dentists that give their time, like Dr. Pat Reed, a volunteer dentist at the clinic who is able to see patients every week instead of once a month, which was the standard before.

"It used to take 10 months to get seen [by a dentist], now it takes two," Parrish said. "If it wasn't for our doctors, pharmacists, nurses, phlebotomists, dentists and dental hygienists, we couldn't operate."

The move is putting the clinic back a little in terms of cost: Parrish said $15,000 was budgeted for the move, but it took $10,000 to move the two dental chairs, which have to be certified when they are disconnected and reconnected at the new location.

It's worth it though.

"It has meant so much to our patients to be able to give dental care, and even though we just do the basics like cleanings and extractions it takes everything we have," Parrish said.

Some of the money will come from the clinic's operating fund, and time, volunteers and equipment are in ready supply. The clinic is also always looking for business sponsors.

Parrish said she is grateful for Northside Hospital for providing the clinic with a lease for the past five years, and is thankful to have another benefactor in the Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

"We look forward to the new space and growing there," Parrish said. "Every challenge is a new opportunity to serve the citizens of Dawsonville, and we're very glad to be able to do that."

The equipment and furniture were all moved to the new location at 45 Medical Center Dr. Friday afternoon.

A wall sticker in the waiting room of the old clinic is all that remains of its previous occupants, words written in clear black cursive letters: Faith looks ahead.

To learn more about the Good Shepherd Clinic or to donate, visit