Healthcare: A Top Chamber Initiative

Healthcare: A Top Chamber Initiative
by Chamber Chairman Emily Bagwell, Whelchel, Dunlap, Jarrard & Walker

The VISION 2030 process identified Healthcare and Community Wellness as significant issues in planning for the future of the community and our citizens. Specifically, VISION 2030 officials composed the following statement as a goal for our community:

“Gainesville-Hall County is a model for providing high-quality, affordable healthcare to its residents. An important part of this initiative is an innovative set of wellness programs, which involves residents in managing their own health.”

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Healthcare Committee has embraced this goal. The committee has facilitated several initiatives along with discussion around access to healthcare, changes in the health insurance market and the challenges and opportunities facing local providers.

In 2007, the Healthcare Committee asked the Center for Health Transformation to help develop a strategic plan to focus on the goal outlined in the VISION 2030 Health Statement. As a result, the committee introduced the HealthSmart Expo focusing on community wellness, as well as hosting the first Get Fit Stay Fit 5K Run/Walk.

As North Georgia’s hub for medical care, Gainesville-Hall County has steadily been recognized for its outstanding health and wellness services. We are a regional center for medical and health services delivery because of the reputation and strength of facilities and the quality of our medical professionals.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center was just recently named one of the top 100 hospitals in the nation and also received the 100 Top Hospitals®: Everest Award, given to 23 of the top 100 hospitals with superior performance and improvement over the last five years. For the fifth consecutive year, Northeast Georgia Medical Center was named #1 in Cardiac Care in the State of Georgia. Gainesville has been named among “America’s Best Places to Practice medicine” by Medical Economics, and more than 50 new physicians in targeted specialties were recruited to Gainesville-Hall County in 2009.

In addition, 150,000 square feet of new medical office space has been added in Gainesville and Hall County in the last year, and Northeast Georgia Medical Center is in the final stages of the Certificate of Need process paving the way for a new 100-bed hospital in South Hall County. Three physician groups in Hall County – The Longstreet Clinic, Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic and Northeast Georgia Physicians Group – are listed in Atlanta’s “Top 25 Physician Group Practices” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle and the Brenau University Department of Nursing, based at Featherbone Communiversity, is bringing much-needed nursing specialist right to our door.

Our health care community has thrived even during the recent economic downturn and has assisted our community in maintaining a stable employment base. A healthy community and top health care facilities and professionals contribute to our quality of life and serve as important economic development tools. We look forward to continued progress in developing healthcare access and wellness programs for Gainesville and Hall County.