New health clinic in north Warner Robins sees first patients

RDA hears update on health clinic, discusses downtown corridor

bpurser@macon.comJanuary 13, 2014 

Gary Lee, executive director of the Warner Robins Redevelopment Agency, and Katherine McLeod, CEO of nonprofit First Choice Primary Care, stand outside the new health clinic at 207 Green St. in Warner Robins.

BECKY PURSER — THE TELEGRAPH

WARNER ROBINS -- A primary care facility serving the north side of town saw its first two patients Friday, with plans to open for two days next week as it gets up and running.

That’s from Katherine McLeod, CEO of the nonprofit First Choice Primary Care, which has purchased a former doctor’s office at 207 Green St. McLeod updated the Warner Robins Redevelopment Agency at its Monday meeting.

The city helped the nonprofit with its grant application for $650,000 from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration toward the operation of the clinic for the first 18 months.

McLeod said the clinic is in the process of hiring staff, with 12 full-time positions expected to be filled within the first two years of operation.

For now, a primary care physician is expected to float between the Warner Robins office and the agency’s clinic in downtown Macon, she said. Also, a nurse practitioner has been hired but is in training.

Because many of those expected to use the clinic have not been receiving regular medical care, the right mix of experience is needed for the staff that will serve those patients, McLeod said.

She expects half of those receiving services will have no medical insurance, with fees to be based on a sliding scale.

Gary Lee, RDA executive director, said many people who do not have medical insurance now use the emergency room at Houston Medical Center for their medical care.

He said the clinic is expected to curb those numbers, while helping those who need medical care.

The clinic was expected to be located on North Davis Drive, but a more suitable location was found at the Green Street site, McLeod said. The Green Street building is larger and already had been used as a medical office, she said.

Hours of operation have not yet been established. Work was still underway inside the building Monday. A formal grand opening is expected to be scheduled at a later date, McLeod said.

For more information about First Choice Primary Care, call the clinic at 478-225-9449.

Downtown development

Also Monday, RDA members heard an update on plans for the development of a downtown area along Watson Boulevard from Ga. 247 to Commercial Circle.

Encore Enterprises, a national real estate development services provider, has expressed an interest in exploring the possibility of a feasibility study for a hotel conference center next to City Hall where the city’s Recreation Department is now housed, Lee said.

Jimmy Autry, of Flint Energies, is expected to facilitate a meeting involving the mayor and council members as well as Steve Moffett of Encore Enterprises to discuss the possibility, Lee said.

The Recreation Department already has identified other property to relocate to on the north end of town if there is interest in a hotel conference center, Lee said.

Setting up a meeting with Encore Enterprises is a way to simply open dialogue about the possibility, said Randy Meade, RDA chairman.

City leaders think luring a hotel conference center would spur the development of restaurants and businesses along the envisioned downtown corridor.

Also, Langford Holbrook of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia passed out a review that included several plans the city already has on the drawing board for the development of a downtown corridor.

The review is designed to pull all the plans together for a meeting, possibly through a retreat with the mayor and council, to hammer out a “redevelopment priority and implementation strategy.” The strategy would nail down what the city hopes to do and would include target dates, Holbrook said.

The strategy would serve as a “playbook” for the city, he said.

The strategy would include land use, infrastructure, community facilities and services and streetscape, he said.

Members also heard an update regarding streetscape for the corridor: An application has been submitted for a $1.29 million in leftover 2011 grant funds from the state Department of Transportation. The city’s share of the grant would be $390,000 if approved by the state.

Also discussed was the need to create development guidelines for the corridor that would not be so restrictive that development was limited but would also ensure developments fit what’s envisioned for the downtown area.

In other business, the board voted to sell two of its properties in Wellston Village off Watson Boulevard for $6,000 each. The properties are .17 acres at 142 Old Mission Way and .12 acres at 205 Orchard Way. They are valued at $9,000 each, according to information included in the meeting agenda packet. The sale was discussed during a closed session and then voted on in open session.

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