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Augusta clinic moves into Widow's Home alongside rich medical history

Widow's Hospital

The staff of Christ Community Health Services is moving into the newly renovated Widow's Home on Greene Street. (WRDW-TV / July 20, 2011)

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday July 20, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's a piece of land with a deep history in Augusta's medical community, and now a new clinic is giving it life again.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver proclaimed Thursday as Christ Community Health Services Day after the dedication of the new clinic.

The staff is moving into the newly renovated Widow's Home on Greene Street.

It's a day worth celebrating in Augusta, a day years in the making for Drs. Robert Campbell and Grant Scarborough.

"This is an exciting day for us because it expands our ability to do what we do, which is take care of the folks that are under-served with primary care in our community. This is a real blessing," said Campbell, one of the co-founders of Christ Community Health Services.

The two doctors opened Christ Community Health Services in 2007. Four years later, and they're averaging 900 patients a month.

They offer affordable health care to the poor. The majority are patients, like Ruth Hailey, who don't have health insurance.

"That's their mission to be able to provide service for everybody, whoever needs it. It just happened that God put him in our lives," said patient Ruth Hailey.

The renovated Widow's Home grounds have deep roots in Augusta. In 1818, it was home to City Hospital, the first hospital in town. Today, it's better known as University Hospital.

"We feel like this is returning this location, this property, to a lot of its original purposes," Campbell said.

In the past, it housed widows of Confederate soldiers, and the property was the birthplace of the first medical school in Georgia. It's had a few name changes since 1829, but today it's known as Georgia Health Sciences University.

"Today will actually mark the beginning of deep roots back to what means so much to Georgia Health Sciences University and University Hospital," said Dr. Gretchen Caughman, the executive vice president of Academic Affairs at GHSU.

And it's a partnership continuing today.

"This is a ground that has seen so much healing and so much compassion for the community and the poor and we're returning to that," Caughman said.

The Widow's Home was donated to the clinic by Clay Boardman and his mother, Ann. It will now be known as the Ann Boardman Widow's Home.

Both the hospital and medical school continue to help the clinic. GHSU will continue to supply them with eager medical students. The doctors hope those students take the message with them when they leave and start similar clinics across the country.

Patients are charged on a sliding fee based on their income and starting at $25 for a visit. The clinic has been operating out of a smaller clinic on Dantignac Street in Augusta. They'll start seeing patients in the new location, which has triple the number of exam rooms, in August.

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