Editorial: The Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership served us well

The Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership served this area for some 28 years, but sadly is no more. We hope that many of its programs will live on, as officials have said, through other agencies, because the work the Partnership did is of importance to the health and well-being of the citizens of Whitfield and Murray counties.

The Partnership's mission was "to improve community health through collaboration, innovative ideas and positive action." This is important work that must continue.

The Partnership's board vice chairman, Mark Mixer, said that when it became clear that the Partnership could not be sustained, "the goal became to really have an understanding of the services that the Partnership provided and then how can we find similar organizations in the community to take on those services."

Happily, some of that has occurred.

The Partnership's clinical-based programs such as health clinic nurse practitioners and Healthy Babies, which makes sure that uninsured mothers receive access to prenatal care, are now supported by Hamilton Health Care System.

The Bill Gregory Healthcare Classic, an annual race aimed at promoting healthy living; the Erwin Mitchell Community Health Fair; the Downtown Dalton Farmers Market and the Partnership's role in the Dalton Neighborhood-Initiative, a collaboration between Dalton Public Schools and several organizations to provide children with services from birth to age 8, will continue through a local nonprofit organization known as Live4It Community.

"We are looking forward to next spring when we hope to host the Healthcare Classic, a beloved community event for the past 40 years," said Amanda Reed, president of Live4It Community. "Since COVID-19 prevented the 2020 Healthcare Classic and the Erwin Mitchell Health Fair, we have plans to host a health fair in conjunction with the Bill Gregory road race (in 2021)."

Some of the Partnership's programs were discontinued, including hosting AmeriCorps Vista workers, who helped recruit and manage volunteers for community organizations, and Promotoras de Salud, which helped Spanish-speaking residents obtain health care. That is unfortunate.

Through all of the changes, and even though the Partnership itself no longer exists, health care leaders and elected officials in Whitfield and Murray counties must remember the Partnership's mission and fulfill it. We trust they will.

We thank all of those who worked for and with the Partnership over the years to make our communities safer and healthier. They performed a great service to their neighbors.

We also honor Nancy Kennedy, who was the Partnership's first executive director and who served in that position from 1994 to 2014.

The Partnership's vision was to create a "healthier community." It did that, and we are grateful.

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