$270K Sams family gift to expand healthcare access in Fayette, Coweta area


    Patients in Coweta and Fayette counties with little or no income soon will have increased access to healthcare services provided by Coweta Samaritan Clinic and Fayette CARE Clinic, thanks to a $270,000 initial donation to the Piedmont Healthcare Foundation by the family of Drs. Ferrol and Helen Sams as a tribute to the two physicians’ legacy.

    “Mama and Daddy had an intense sense of community in addition to being the best at not only the science of medicine but also the art of it,” said Jim Sams, M.D., about his parents who practiced medicine together for 55 years in Fayette County before retiring in 2006 and dying within weeks of each other one year ago. “This is a tribute to them and the responsibility they took so seriously to all who sought their care.”

    Dr. Sams, who serves as chief medical officer of the Piedmont Clinic and co-medical director of Piedmont WellStar HealthPlans, and his siblings, Ferrol Sams, III, M.D., Ellen Nichol, and Judge W. Fletcher Sams, made the donation to the Piedmont Healthcare Foundation to implement the Sams Care Coordination Program, which was designed to expand capacity at the free clinics in Newnan and Fayetteville.

    “Currently, there are limited affordable care options for low-income, uninsured families,” Dr. Sams said. “The Coweta Samaritan Clinic and the Fayette CARE Clinic have gone above and beyond to provide care for patients in need thanks to the generosity of physicians who volunteer their time. This collaboration will not only increase the number of patients the clinics are able to care for but will provide us with a unique opportunity to coordinate patient care and keep our communities healthy.”

    Last year, Coweta Samaritan Clinic provided care during 2,100 visits for patients with conditions like hypertension, breathing disorders, diabetes and obesity. Likewise, Fayette CARE Clinic served 2,016 patients in 3,434 visits. Both clinics rely on private donations and community support to offer affordable healthcare services.

    “Fayette CARE Clinic thanks the Sams family for their donation to ensure we continue Drs. Sambo and Helen Sams’ belief in quality care for all,” said Sheryl Watford, executive director of Fayette CARE Clinic. “Our clinic will continue to fill the increasing gap within healthcare and we must continue to work with our partners and help those less fortunate to build a healthier community.”

    As part of the Sams Care Coordination Program, the two clinics will increase utilization of nurse practitioners and licensed medical social workers to address any underlying socioeconomic issues that may prevent a patient’s recovery. Additionally, the program will enable the clinics to transition to a new electronic medical record and practice management system called Epic.

    “By March 2014, Fayette CARE Clinic will be on Epic, and the Coweta Samaritan Clinic will launch it later this year,” said Dr. Sams. “Because Epic is the same advanced electronic medical record system that Piedmont uses, it will help avoid duplicated tests and services for patients who visit the clinics and our emergency departments, while giving providers at each facility a more comprehensive picture of the patient’s health.

    “The Sams Care Coordination Program embodies the legacy of my parents, and it will become a model for Piedmont to further engage with the communities it serves,” Dr. Sams added. The gift was announced Feb. 20.

    As a not-for-profit entity, Piedmont relies on the generosity of others like the Sams family in order to offer many programs and advanced medical technology to the community. To see a video about this program or donate in support of the Sams Care Coordination Program, visit piedmont.org/samscare.