Students of The Carolyn Barron Montessori School strapped on their running shoes to sprint for their health – and to help Coweta County’s only free health clinic.
Children and adults ran, jogged and walked in the inaugural Samaritan Sprint 5K at the Coweta County Fairgrounds in early October.
The race was sponsored by The Carolyn Barron Montessori School. The proceeds benefited the Coweta Samaritan Clinic at 137 Jackson St.
The medical facility helps uninsured adults whose household income is at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, according to Lou Graner, executive director of the clinic.
Dr. Kay Crosby, who founded the Coweta Samaritan Clinic, was among the runners in the 5K.
“We had a lot of fun. I was glad I was able to run in it,” she said. “The school did a great job, and there were lots of children who participated, which made it fun. Everyone seemed to have a good time.”
The partnership between the clinic and the Montessori school has a unique background, Crosby said.
The school is named after Carolyn Barron, whose husband Ernest was one of the first practitioners at the Coweta Samaritan Clinic when it opened its doors in October 2011.
“Dr. Barron was very faithful to the clinic. He came in every week until he was too sick to come in anymore,” Crosby said. “It was especially sweet and wonderful to have everyone together at the event. It was very kind of them to include us.”
The Barron’s daughter, Beth Wagstaff, is the current headmaster at the Montessori school.
According to Graner, the clinic is a primary care office for the county’s uninsured. The facility provides chronic disease management for conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes and depression. Coweta Samaritan Clinic staff diagnosis, treat, manage and provide referrals for their patients as well.
Patients do not pay a dime for their medical care, Graner said. Volunteers run the clinic, and physicians provide their services for free.
“We also have in-kind donations,’” Graner explained. “Piedmont, Cancer Treatment Centers of America and American Health Imaging provide special procedures and diagnostic tests for our patients free of charge.”
Coweta Samaritan Clinic can refer patients for specialty healthcare, including cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology and gynecology. Three nights a month, the clinic holds restorative dental services in the West Georgia Technical College dental lab and the Central Educational Center, Graner said.
More than 1,400 people have been helped by the clinic since it opened its doors Oct. 5, 2011. The medical facility has recorded more than 18,000 patient visits within those seven year as well, according to Graner.
Unfortunately, there is still a three-month waiting list for new patients trying to get into the clinic, he added.
However, every little bit of funding helps – and could potentially move the list faster.
The clinic’s cash budget this year was just under $750,000, Graner said.
Since the Coweta Samaritan Clinic does not charge clients, they have to rely on the generosity of people and fundraising events, like the Samaritan Sprint 5K.
The money raised by The Carolyn Barron Montessori School event will go right back into the clinic, Crosby said.
“Clinic operations is the most important thing we do because we are a service organization,” she explained. “To have nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, volunteers and many other people on staff is vital to run the clinic … The people to help us is what makes us most effective in the community.”
Graner agreed and said the event’s funds will benefit the clinic in multiple ways.
“It will helping build awareness the clinic exists and what type of services we offer for potential patients, volunteers and physicians,” Graner said. “We like to say Coweta County is caring for their neighbors, whether that means financial donations or someone’s personal time. It takes a number of people with a variety of gifts and talents to run the clinic.
“We’re grateful to the Montessori school for creating the event and to share the proceeds with us,” he added.
The event also commemorated the Coweta Samaritan Clinic’s seventh anniversary in Coweta County.