Proposed site map of campus Healthy Foundations plans to build in LaFayette

A controversial collective health care initiative’s plan to build near Gilbert Elementary School in LaFayette is the subject of a series of community forums to educate the community about the planned facility and to answer the public’s questions about the facility.

Healthy Foundations said about 20 residents attended an Oct. 28 informational meeting, which was moderated by Rachel Oesch Willeford and shown on Facebook as a live event. Attendees packed the Oct. 21 meeting at the Walker County Civic Center, an attendee said.

“It’s important to have conversations like the ones we are having with the community,” Healthy Foundations CEO Delaine Hunter said. “We want to keep them informed about the work we will be doing, but more importantly to the community is the type of campus we will be building here in Walker County.”

“We promised at last night’s (Oct. 28) meeting to make the findings of environmental studies and similar reports available to the public, and that’s exactly what we are going to do,” she said. “We don’t have all of the answers to questions regarding our planned infrastructure, but as our contracted professionals provide their findings, we’ll be able to work our way down the list of questions to finalize our plans.”

Questions related to zoning, security and traffic were posed. Healthy Foundations provided examples regarding the types of individuals who would be served by the facility, as well as information about assessment processes, referral sources and plans that would provide a “path to restoration” for participants.

Healthy Foundations officials have described the tax-exempt, nonprofit organization as an initiative of North Georgia Healthcare Center to meet the integrated primary health, behavioral health and social needs of Walker, Catoosa, Chattooga and Dade counties by providing counseling for behavioral health issues including depression, ADHD and PTSD.

The facility will offer affordable healthcare and housing for veterans, youth aging out of foster care, and families and individuals needing assistance, as well as daycare and cognitive development for children, according to officials. Part of the campus will be open to the public and will have an artisan village, equestrian center, amphitheater, conference center and farmer’s market meant to prepare residents for jobs off campus. The proposed 374-acre campus is on South Burnt Mill Road and will have roughly 950 beds for those it serves, as well as 150 for staff.

“While we aren’t required to have multiple meetings with the community, we know this is absolutely the right thing to do,” Healthy Foundations President Terry Tucker said. “With this in mind, neighbors who have property adjacent to ours will be receiving an invitation to join us for conversations regarding their specific concerns as they relate to their property. Our goal is to receive input that can be added into our planning, answer their questions and begin to build their trust in us.

“As a healthcare company, our goal is making sure our meetings are conducted as safely as possible,” said Tucker. “We appreciate the community’s understanding as we host these conversations in very unusual circumstances.”

The facility will not admit sex offenders or violent criminals, officials said.

Healthy Foundations will be funded by a variety of sources including private individuals and foundations, federal and state agencies, and capital campaigns; operating expenses will generally be funded by insurance, state and federal government contracts, and earned revenue, according to Healthy Foundations. No county tax dollars will be used for the project.

Catherine Edgemon is assistant editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and the Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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