In just six months, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Forsyth facility has surpassed many expectations.
“Everything has gone really well,” said Linda Cole, vice president of ambulatory and emergency services. “Our volume has been much higher than projected.”
The facility, which opened June 1 at The Avenue Forsyth on Peachtree Parkway, provides a wide array of pediatric health services.
Among them: Immediate care; rehabilitation; sports medicine; orthotics and prosthetics; specialty care; and X-ray and laboratory services.
Cole called sports medicine one of the “biggest successes.”
The area uses therapists to work with children who have suffered any sort of sports-related injury.
“Since we opened, we’ve had three times the volume over what we expected,” she said. “We started with one therapist, and we’ve already had to double that to two.”
The facility’s immediate care area has seen twice as many patients than expected, she said.
Jody Levenstein, practice manager, noted that the area had nearly 6,300 visits as of the end of November.
“We initially budgeted for about half that number,” she said.
Due to the higher volume, Cole noted, wait times are sometimes longer than staffers would prefer.
“A lot of people have been concerned about the wait times and we’ve heard those complaints,” Cole said. “We’re working to resolve that by hiring another physician.”
Cole explained that with another physician, other staff positions, such as nurses and those in registration, are also added.
“With hiring another physician, we’ll basically be doubling everything in that area,” she said.
A number of specialty areas are also offered at the facility, said Beth Buursema, community outreach liaison.
“Those rotate through,” Buursema said. “When we opened, we were at about 35 percent occupancy for specialty areas and now we’re more like 70 percent.”
As an example, Buursema pointed to orthopedics.
“They were working five half days a week and now they’re working five whole days a week,” she said.
Among the specialties that have been added, she said, are neurology and endocrinology.
Besides treating the children of Forsyth, the facility also employees a number of county residents.
“A lot of our staff lives here, so that makes them even more invested in making a difference in the quality of life we can provide our patients,” Levenstein said.
While staffers are invested in the community, Buursema noted the latter has in turn become just as invested in the facility.
Since opening, leaders have been raising funds to buy a pediatric ambulance that would be stationed full time at the facility, serving Forsyth and other nearby counties.
Leaders have described the ambulance as a “rolling emergency room” for children. It has much more capability to care for young patients than a standard adult ambulance.
Fully outfitted, the ambulance’s price tag is about $850,000. Children’s is seeking to raise $1 million to help cover operating costs as well.
“We’re about halfway there,” Cole said.
Buursema said that success has come from strong community and business support.
Most recently Hansgrohe presented a $5,000 check to the fund in lieu of sending holiday cards.
Earlier this year, American Proteins presented a $300,000 check for the vehicle.
“We’ve had that one huge donation,” Buursema said. “But we also have numerous smaller donations that come in every week. We appreciate every donation no matter how big or small.”
Buursema noted several schools and churches have held fundraisers for the effort. Some restaurants have given percentages of profits to the cause.
Other donations have come from individuals.
One that especially touched Buursema was a young girl who donated $19.37 from a lemonade stand.
“She sent a letter explaining that she wanted to help other kids. She drew a picture of the ambulance. It was just so precious,” Buursema said.
“There have been so many who have given. It’s just overwhelming.”