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Leaders welcome Children's Healthcare
Facility heralded as 'milestone of medicine'
Beth Buursema, left, talks to Tommy Bagwell about the new Children's Healthcare of Atlanta facility at The Avenue Forsyth. - photo by Jim Dean

What's next
Want to see the new Children’s Healthcare of Forsyth? A free community open house and health fair event is set for 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the facility, 410 Peachtree Pkwy, Suite 300, at The Avenue Forsyth. The event will include inflatables and face painting, wellness screenings and photos with Children’s mascots Hope and Will. There also will be tours of the facility and its critical care ambulance, as well as refreshments.

The realization of a dream was celebrated Tuesday at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s new Forsyth facility.

Leaders of the pediatric health care system joined with Forsyth County elected officials and community members to officially cut the ribbon on the 20,000-square-foot clinic-style facility at The Avenue Forsyth.

The facility, which has been dubbed Children’s Healthcare of Forsyth, will officially open to patients on June 1.

It will offer outpatient services including immediate care, rehabilitation, sports medicine, orthotics and prosthetics. It will also feature specialty physician care and X-ray and laboratory services.

Tuesday’s ceremony hailed the efforts of those who worked the past several years to bring Children’s to the county.

Mary Helen McGruder, chairwoman of Children’s Forsyth community board, called the opening “a milestone of medicine” in Forsyth.

McGruder, whose family owned the first local hospital, gave an overview of the history of medicine in the county.

“My grandfather opened an office on Tribble Gap Road in the 1920s,” she said. “Mary Alice Hospital was my playground.”

She said her family, like the leaders who have now brought Children’s to the area, “shared a dream to help the citizens of Forsyth County.”

“Another dream has been brought to us today,” she said.

McGruder and other speakers credited Linda Cole, Children’s vice president of ambulatory and emergency services, as being the driving force behind the local facility.

“When we were discussing where our next location should be, I think if we had chosen anywhere else besides Forsyth County, Linda Cole would have strangled every member of the board,” joked Doug Hertz, chairman of Children’s board of directors.

Cole, a lifelong resident of Forsyth, said organization's welcome to the county “has been truly humbling.”

“We’ve truly been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received in making this a reality,” she said.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt recalled how Cole came to his office about three years ago to discuss possible sites for the facility.

“We talked about areas all the way from [Highway] 306 to Peachtree Parkway, and here we are today at a site on Peachtree Parkway,” Gravitt said. “They couldn’t have picked a better location.”

Gravitt said he and other city leaders were “extremely happy” to welcome the facility not only because Forsyth County has one of the fastest growing school districts in the state, but also because of the economic impact it will have.

Children’s of Forsyth will employ about 60 people in a variety of clinical and administrative roles from nurses, physical therapists and pediatric technologists to registration coordinators.

Commission Chairman Brian Tam echoed Gravitt’s sentiments.

“Forsyth County has become a beacon of hope for families seeking quality health care,” he said. “Forsyth County is a great place to call home and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta embraces our vision of offering the best quality of life possible.”

After the ceremony, guests were taken on tours of the new facility, which offers 15 examination rooms.

Amenities in rehabilitative services include two rock-climbing walls, a zip line, swings and several specialized gyms with a variety of exercise equipment.

Services will include, among others, audiology and vision testing, speech therapy, and orthotic and prosthetic fittings and trainings.

Children’s of Forsyth will be open for immediate care cases 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.

Pediatric specialists will be available 8 a.m. -5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Deidre Stewart, the facility’s lead physician, said she is “very excited” about the opening.

“Being here is fantastic. There are so many children here who don’t have access to after-hours care that we’ll now be able to provide,” she said.

“I live here, so to see kids in my own community is huge.”