One of the many gems Floyd County boasts about is the thriving medical community so it’s no surprise that the Free Clinic of Rome is just as prominent.
The Free Clinic of Rome has been providing healthcare services to those without insurance and the less-fortunate since it was first started in 2003.
“Some of the physicians started once a month seeing patients at The Salvation Army,” Renee Blackburn said Tuesday in a presentation at the Floyd County Commission’s pre-meeting caucus.
From a back room at The Salvation Army, the nonprofit began growing. In 2014, they signed a lease for their own space at 101B John Maddox Drive.
Then, in October, the clinic moved to a space twice as large at 3 Professional Court due to the need for a bigger space.
“At our new clinic, we have two more exam rooms, a dedicated space for lab, a dedicated space for doctors, and a dedicated space for education,” Blackburn said.
Blackburn has been serving as the executive director of the charity clinic for three years.
There are 102 charity clinics in Georgia and only three of them are fully staffed by doctors and mid-level healthcare professionals.
Thanks to the Georgia Volunteer Healthcare Program, local physicians and healthcare professionals can treat uninsured patients at the free clinic with sovereign immunity. This means that the state of Georgia covers any malpractice claims and doesn’t hold the healthcare professional liable.
Many retired physicians and mid-levels come to the clinic to volunteer. Blackburn commented that the oldest volunteer is a retired 82-year-old doctor who “is vicious if you’re a smoker.”
A dental clinic is also part of the Free Clinic of Rome. It is the only free dental clinic in Rome and one of the few free dental clinics in Georgia.
Many dentists in Rome have volunteered at the dental clinic as well as students from the dental hygiene program at Georgia Highlands College.
According to Blackburn, the Free Clinic of Rome provides $1.5 million worth of healthcare a year.
By the end of 2019, Blackburn expects the clinic to have well over 3,000 patient visits for the year.