North Georgia Healthcare Center of Ringgold has announced plans to develop a collective integrated healthcare campus in Walker County. The Healthy Foundations Community Resource Village will fulfill a need in North Georgia for affordable healthcare and housing for veterans, youth aging out of foster care, and families and individuals in need of assistance. The front part of the planned campus will be open to the public and will have an artisan village, equestrian center, amphitheater, conference center and farmer’s market meant to prepare residents for jobs off campus. It will also provide daycare and cognitive development in “Kid City.”
Healthy Foundations President Terry Tucker said, “We see many people who are ashamed. They struggle with barriers such as housing or support, making it difficult to get the help they need. Our ‘out of the shadows’ approach establishes consistency in their daily lives that results in opportunities to reach self-sufficiency. We will deploy Collective Integrated Healthcare initiatives to reach these goals.”
A Collective Integrated Healthcare initiative is designed to meet the integrated primary health, behavioral health and social needs of a community at a centralized location. By integrating care through community partnerships, patients are more satisfied with their care, more accepting of care and demonstrate positive outcomes. Additional benefits include improvements in access to care and services, appropriate use of specialized services and productive outcomes for individuals suffering from chronic diseases, said officials.
Mr. Tucker noted that the selection of the site in Walker County made sense because the community is a vital partner for the work done by Healthy Foundations. “From our research, we know that Walker County has individuals who would be perfect partners as employees. Walker County is a caring community with businesses and individuals who are dedicated to making sure this is a healthy place to live, work and play. It’s this commitment that makes LaFayette and Walker County a great location for the work ahead.”
Healthy Foundations is the result of more than a decade of experience and research in housing, foster and adoption, youth development, workforce, and veteran services. With an internationally known team of healthcare professionals, Healthy Foundations is well positioned for success for participants in the programs, their families and the Northwest Georgia community. Healthy Foundations will assess each individual before confirming admittance to their programs.
Healthy Foundations will also bring economic growth to Walker County. Commissioner Shannon Whitfield said, “This project will result in new employment opportunities for our residents. Healthy Foundations plans to create a large number of jobs, many of them professional positions, as part of their investment in our community.
After a phased opening over four years, Healthy Foundations will employ 250 workers ranging from counselors and physicians to facilities maintenance and childcare staff. An inaugural event and dedication ceremony to be held in the spring of 2021. There are also plans to serve partners and establish smaller satellite locations within Catoosa, Chattooga and Dade counties.
Robert Wardlaw, director of Economic and Community Development for Walker County said, “We are grateful to have such significant interest in Walker County. I look forward to more being shared with the community.”
Healthy Foundations’ campus in Walker County will include a healthcare/counseling center, independent living area with supportive services, as well as workforce and youth development opportunities. In addition, the campus will feature an innovative Veterans Village to serve the unique behavioral health and housing needs of area service members. Campus partners include the City of Refuge Atlanta, House of Cherith, Georgia Division of Family and Children's Services and others. The site selected for the campus is located on 374 acres near LaFayette. The front entrance of the property is located approximately one mile from Gilbert Elementary School; however, the closest living unit on the property will be located another mile away.
Healthy Foundations will also deploy a high level of security technology to make sure the campus and those they serve are monitored in real time. In addition to their private security team, Healthy Foundations has partnered with Genetec Cyber Security, an international leader in security systems who will know where each individual is 24/7 and that they remain in various zones to participate in programming. They will also use tag readers and facial recognition technology connected to state databases to screen everyone who comes to the campus. This is the same type of tracking technology currently used by the city of Atlanta and Clemson University. Mr. Tucker said, “We wanted very sophisticated technology that would be dependable as we track those on our campus.”
He noted, “Most people entering our campus for housing, training and other programs will not be coming because of mental health concerns. There are certainly places to treat people experiencing these specific challenges, but Healthy Foundations doesn’t perform those services. We are not a mental health facility and will refer those individuals appropriately. Anyone coming to our campus will undergo an assessment to determine if we are able to serve them and meet their needs. Unfortunately, we will have to turn some applicants away as we have guidelines of who fits our program.”
“For example, we will not admit violent criminals or sex offenders. We want to ensure the safety of the individuals and families on our campus as we serve our neighbors in northwest Georgia. We are not a dedicated drug or substance abuse rehabilitation center,” said Mr. Tucker. “There are some wonderful centers that provide those programs and as we determine that some of these individuals are experiencing this type of challenge, we will refer them to the appropriate place where they can receive the care they need.”
“Our primary goal is to uplift struggling individuals and families from the shadows of crisis by meeting their health and social needs in our own community of Northwest Georgia,” said DeLaine Hunter, founder and CEO of NGHCC.
Healthy Foundations will hold a public information session at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the Walker County Civic Center in Rock Spring.
No county tax dollars will be used for the project.