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Oakhurst Medical celebrates record year as new center opens

Jennifer Ffrench-Parker | 2/28/2014, 5:59 a.m.
Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson and Commissioner Larry Johnson talk with Oakhurst Medical CEO Jeff Taylor (left). Photo by Jennifer Ffrench-Parker

Oakhurst Medical Centers Inc., which officially opened its new $5 million administration and medical center on Feb. 24, had a record year in 2013, serving more than 16,000 patients.

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Jeff Taylor

CEO Jeff Taylor said the nonprofit center has experienced tremendous growth over the nine years since he has been there. Last year Oakhurst, which operates three centers in Stone Mountain and Decatur and one in Conyers, served the most patients ever in a single year.

Taylor said the center is realizing its mission and motto of healing its community one home at a time.

“If we can just reach someone new each and every day, we are striving to heal our community one home at a time,” he told about 30 invited guests that included 4th District U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, DeKalb Commissioners Sharon Barnes Sutton of District 4 and Larry Johnson of District 3, and Rockdale County Chairman Richard Oden.

Monday’s ceremony was the second attempt at a grand opening. The first ceremony on Jan. 30 was scuttled by a snowstorm that closed down metro Atlanta for three days.

The one-story center at 5582 Memorial Drive almost doubled the size of Oakhurst Medical’s old facility, down the street on Village Square Drive.

The center moved into the new facility on Dec. 6 – 16 months after the groundbreaking and demolition of an old nightclub that once occupied the property.

It houses the administrative offices and has 34 exam rooms, up from 18, two dental chairs and space for radiology. Oakhurst Medical offers family medicine, pediatrics and ob/gyn services to under-insured and uninsured families.

With the visibility of the new center on Memorial Drive, Taylor said they saw an immediate uptick in patients.

“We served 3,300 patients in December. Usually we do around 2,500 in a month. So we are already seeing the growth.”

Congressman Johnson, who represents the 4th District, helped secure funding for the new building. He said Oakhurst is a manifestation of where the country is headed with providing affordable health care. He called it a facility that produces healthy people and said the Affordable Care Act was successful despite vehement opposition.

In metro Atlanta, Johnson said 88 percent of the target number for enrollment in the Healthcare Marketplace has been met.

“Y’all have been working hard,” he said. “Oakhurst, commissioners and public officials have been working very hard to help their community understand what’s happening. Your efforts have paid off.”

Johnson said the enrollment numbers are not as strong in the rest of the state, but that even with a governor who does not want 700,000 uninsured Georgians to get coverage and who is refusing $40 billion over 10 years to fund Medicaid, the state has reached 58 percent of the target.

“I think that’s pretty good,” he said. “I think we are winning and we still have a little time left.”

March 31 is the open enrollment deadline to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Taylor said that Oakhurst, a federally qualified nonprofit center, had its start in 1976 when Elizabeth Wilson, former mayor of Decatur, recognized the need for health care services for the underserved in the Oakhurst community. It is one of 32 community health centers in Georgia and one of 1,200 nationwide. He said Oakhurst Medical was providing affordable care before the federal act came about.