Wednesday, July 18, 2012
There were few visible changes at Chickamauga Family Practice when management of Hutcheson Medical Center was assumed by Erlanger Health System in May 2011.
Patients — about 7,900 during the past year — continued to visit the office located across U.S. Highway 27 from Shaw Industries SI plant just as they had since doctors first opened their doors 13 years ago.
“This is an amazing clinic,” staff member Paul Ballinger said. “The staff is fantastic and knows everyone in the community.”
From its earliest days, Chickamauga Family Practice has been — and continues to be — affiliated with the Fort Oglethorpe-based hospital.
What has changed is due to a combination of tumultuous weather and a rebranding of all Hutcheson facilities.
The office’s sign was destroyed by one of the tornados that ripped through Northwest Georgia on April 27, 2011.
Its replacement was delayed due to a change in hospital management the next month that in turn led to a changing the hospital’s name in November 2011 to Erlanger at Hutcheson.
Just as the hospital has continued to serve patients living in the tri-state area, so too have the hospital’s three family practice centers, the others being located in Trenton and LaFayette.
And as the hospital is gaining strength and seeing an increase in admissions, the Chickamauga Family Practice office reports its number of patients is steadily growing.
“We’re really excited about the positive changes we’re making at the Chickamauga clinic,” said Stacey Kaufmann, administrator of physician services and communications. “Paul Ballinger and Gary Smith have joined the staff; we’ve expanded the morning office hours and are actively promoting walk-in visits for patient convenience. We couldn’t be more excited about our future.”
Open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., the office’s physician and physician’s assistant are the primary care providers for many in the community, treat walk-in patients and conduct sports and back-to-school physicals.
“We’ve got the support of specialists for referrals and the hospital when we need it,” Ballinger said. “We are practicing great medicine here.”