In a presentation to the Hospital Authority of Valdosta and Lowndes County, GA on March 21, Partnership Health Center (PHC) Chief Executive Officer John Sparks and SGMC Chief Operating Officer Dr. David Schott reported on the significant impact of PHC and the difference it’s making in the lives of the local uninsured community.“Lives are being saved because the Partnership Health Center provides treatments and medications for many chronic diseases, including hypertension and diabetes,” Schott said. “Both diseases are shown to cause high mortality in lower socioeconomic circles.”In the past year, PHC has provided over 12,000 patient visits. This includes follow-up care for discharged hospital patients, non-emergent walk-ins, and other patients who use PHC for their primary healthcare needs. The PHC, located at 520 Griffin Avenue in Valdosta, is now open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 8:30pm with plans to go to 7-days a week in the near future. Fees are based on the patient’s income and range from zero dollars to $25 for a routine visit.The PHC is served by three medical directors who practice at SGMC Family Medicine and donate their services to the Partnership: Drs. Kyle Adams, Laura Guadiana Sanchez and Cliff Thomas.The renewal grant from SGMC will help to fund the Partnership’s operations to include being open on weekends. A leadership team from SGMC including Chief Development Officer Jeff Edwards, who provides organizational oversight of the PHC under this arrangement; Chief Financial Officer Grant Byers; COO David Schott; and Assistant Administrator for Communications and Public Affairs Johnny Ball worked with Sparks, to review the business model and develop the plans for expanded operations.“The Partnership Health team is an integral part of the Valdosta healthcare community and they are passionate about the quality and continuum of services provided to their patients,” said Edwards. “SGMC is pleased to have the opportunity to continue supporting PHC in their mission to the community.”By extending the clinic’s hours on the weekend, additional resources will be available to ease the strain on the Emergency Department. “Our goal is to increase awareness and encourage people to use the PHC as an alternative to the Emergency Department for non-emergent care,” Sparks added. “As you can see by the numbers, moving into the larger facility on Griffin Avenue and adding the expertise of the SGMC Family Medicine physicians has increased the PHC’s ability to care for the sick.”SGMC donated the medical building and provided approximately $1 million in operational capital to the PHC last year. “The average cost to treat a person with a minor illness or injury in the SGMC emergency department is $300. Multiplying the cost of the visits ($300) by the numbers of patients served (12,000), shows significant savings. It would have cost SGMC approximately $3.6 million to treat these patients in the ED,” reported Schott.At the PHC, all income levels are accepted. The sliding fee discount applies to incomes below 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. The PHC serves uninsured individuals between the ages of 18 and 64. To learn more about the eligibility guidelines and other information, please call 229-245-0020.