Local family physician Larry Anderson was honored at a recent Rotary Club meeting for his work as the first medical director of the Good Shepherd Clinic, which provides free medical care to those who qualify in Dawson County.
The meeting was held at the clinic Jan. 11 and served as an opportunity for Rotary members to tour the facility and learn more about what services the clinic provides to the community.
Doug Powell, a founding member of the board of directors for the Good Shepherd, presented a plaque to Anderson at the beginning of the meeting, thanking him for his years serving as medical director, a role he undertook from when the clinic was just an idea in 2007 through 2015, when the clinic had grown into a space leased by Northside Hospital.
“You played a key role from the inception in formulating the plans of this clinic to serve the medical needs of those in Dawson County who lack the access, nor could afford, medical care,” Powell told Anderson. “Indeed, this free clinic could never have begun without your leadership, your vision and your willingness to serve as our medical director. The contributions that Good Shepherd has made to the Dawson County community...has been possible through the efforts of many, many people but you in particular have put service above self.”
Anderson said that the clinic is completely free for patients because the board requires that medical providers that furnish personnel and equipment to examine patients also provide a means to solve any problems they find.
“Northside (Hospital) came to us and said ‘we’re going to give you free mammograms,’” Anderson said. “I said ‘that’s great, but you’re going to have to do the ultrasound, the special views, and if it goes further you’re going to have to do the needle biopsy, the open biopsies, and you cannot charge our patients one penny.’ They have done that, others have done that.”
The Dawsonville Lions Club came to the clinic with a similar proposal, to offer free eye exams to Good Shepherd patients, Anderson said. But they only planned on providing two pairs of glasses a year.
Thanks to the Lions Club’s persistence and the aid of Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation and clinic volunteer Dr. Brian Burke of Dawson Vision, Good Shepherd now offers a successful vision clinic, Anderson said.
“Anybody that wants to do anything, it has to be free,” Anderson said. “And people have stepped up, it’s done very well, and I’m proud of this organization and we appreciate Dr. (David) Moore, who is our current medical director.”
The clinic grew out of Grace Presbyterian Church, and was the brainchild of founding Pastor Mark Weaver. The clinic officially opened in 2009 with Anderson as medical director, and in July moved into a five-year lease space provided free of charge by Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
Services the clinic’s over 50 volunteers provide include general non-emergency care, women’s wellness screenings, prescription assistance programs, basic dental care, audiology, vision, cardiology and referrals.
All of the doctors, nurses and other staff at the clinic are volunteers, save Kay Parrish who works part time as the clinic manager, and the clinic relies entirely on donations and grants.
To be eligible for assistance from the clinic, patients have to be between the ages of 18 and 64, live, work or attend school in Dawson County and be without insurance and income 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level or less.
Patients must bring a photo ID or driver’s license, household income with their current address and all medications to the clinic between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Thursdays for eligibility.
The clinic is located at 45 Medical Center Drive in Dawsonville, behind the Burger King.