News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, May 2, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A local community health center is about $5 million richer. It is one of two local centers receiving a federal construction grant.
That grant will allow them to build a new facility and serve a lot more people in the community. The new facility will be 18,000 square feet -- a big change from the 3,000 square foot building they are in today.
Dr. Angela Wright has been a primary provider at Belle Terrace Health and Wellness Center since it opened 13 years ago.
"We have enjoyed this building," she said. "It lasted as long I think as it could, but we are really ready to get into something that's permanent."
Thanks to a federal construction grant, a permanent building will soon be a reality with six times the space as the current facility.
"I'm so excited for the area, first of all, patients, for the staff," Wright said. "We all deserve to have something in the area that represents the quality of care that we give our patients."
Belle Terrace serves everyone in the community, but they primarily focus on the uninsured and the under-insured.
"About 80,000 people are what we looked at in this area as far as under-served for one reason or the other have challenges with access to health care and so we'll be able to impact that number significantly," said Janice Sherman.
But they've already impacted that number.
Suzanne Erneston is a patient at Belle Terrace. She started going there six years ago when she lost her insurance.
"I was desperate, and when I found them it was lifesaving, actually," Erneston said.
After two strokes in 2006, doctors found a hole in her heart.
"They have helped me maintain as much health as I can since then," she said.
But their ability to help has been limited.
"There's much more need than we have space, so we're overcrowded," Sherman said. "We don't have enough providers; we really don't have any additional space to add new ones at this point, so the building means that we'll be able to serve more people."
Wright says she is so excited, she can barely wait.
"We're ready to go dig ourselves, we're gonna go get some shovels," she joked.
The building will be a green building. They are hoping that having an energy efficient building in the community will help teach people about energy conservation as well.
They are hoping to start construction in August and to be in their new building by fall of next year.
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