Primary Health Care clinic in Rossville

Primary Health Care clinic in Rossville

Walker County is still awaiting Primary Health Care Services' plans for its Rossville clinic.

Commissioner Shannon Whitfield on Wednesday said he has yet to hear any plans moving forward for Primary — and doesn't expect to until the organization's upcoming board meeting, scheduled for the first week in December.

Joe Legge, public relations director for the Commissioner's Office, said the county has had no communication with Primary since it learned last week of the organization's plans to purchase the vacant Hutcheson Building in Fort Oglethorpe.

Primary has been leasing a county-owned building in Rossville for the past 10 years. The organization was paying a $1 per year rent to the county until August 2017. Since then, Whitfield raised the rent for the facility to $8,800.75 per month.

Meanwhile, the lease with the county for Primary's administrative office in LaFayette expires in January.

Primary also operates a portable clinic at Gilbert Elementary School in LaFayette.

Regarding Primary's Rossville clinic, during the 10-year period the agreement cost taxpayers $1.356 million: $$1,056,090 in rent, $190,000 in utilities, and $110,000 in insurance and building maintenance, Whitfield said. Also, five years ago the county paid $400,000 to renovate the building, he said.

Whitfield said that according the company's 2016 financial audit, Primary's total revenue that year was about $6.4 million ($6,480,861). The total in expenses was $6,148,274, leaving the company with a $332,587 profit.

The commissioner said he told Primary to do what was best for the company, but the previous arrangement had to be changed because the county is struggling financially, and since the company is an independent, free market business, it should be paying its own way.

The Messenger, on its Facebook page, is asking readers: "How do you rate Primary Health Care Services as a health care provider? What would be your concerns if Primary moves its service out of Walker County to Fort Oglethorpe (Catoosa County)?"

Josh O'Bryant is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He can be reached at the Walker County Messenger office at 706-638-1859 and by email at jobryant@npco.com.