Mercer Medicine holds ribbon-cutting for new rural health clinic in Harris County

Harris County Ribbon Cutting
Front row (l-r): MUSM student Martin Wood, Mercer President William D. Underwood, Harris County Board of Commissioners Chairman Andrew Zuerner, Harris County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kim Tharp, Harris County Regional Healthcare Fund Chair Morgan Marlowe, Hamilton Mayor Julie Brown, MUSM Dean Dr. Jean Sumner, MUSM student Zachary Gallatin. Back row (l-r): MUSM Chief Financial Officer Ben West and Harris County School District Superintendent Roger Couch.

HAMILTON – Mercer Medicine yesterday held a ribbon cutting for the launch of its fifth rural primary care clinic, which opened April 4 at 138 North College Street in Hamilton.

Mercer Medicine is the primary care practice and the division of the faculty practice of Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM), with more than 30 primary care and specialty providers in six locations.

“We are deeply honored by Harris County’s trust in us,” said Jean R. Sumner, M.D., FACP, dean of MUSM. “The Regional Healthcare Fund Committee has done an outstanding job engaging citizens and community support for this project. We look forward to many, many years of growth here and are committed to bringing Harris County the high-quality health care it deserves.”

“We couldn’t have gotten here without the immense community support,” added Morgan Marlowe, chair of Harris County Regional Healthcare Fund. “More than 60 individuals and organizations donated to our fund, in amounts ranging from $25 to six figures. We knew that meant there was a real desire to bring high-quality health care to our community.”

Mercer Medicine Harris County will be staffed by David Kay, M.D., Amanda Lee, MSN, NP-C, and staff, who will offer primary care, X-ray, EKG, lab, point-of-care testing, flu shots, physicals and telehealth services, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The clinic will serve all patients including the uninsured and underinsured.

Dr. Kay earned his medical degree from MUSM in 1998. He completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) at what is now Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center. Since 2002, Dr. Kay has practiced emergency medicine and OB/GYN across south and central Georgia.

He is joined at the clinic by certified nurse practitioner Amanda Lee. She earned her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of South Carolina in 2011 and has practiced as a family nurse practitioner for nearly 10 years.

Dr. Kay, originally from nearby Phenix City, Alabama, is looking forward to returning to the area to serve the local community.

“I am both humbled and excited to start this new clinic in Hamilton,” said Dr. Kay. “Many parts of rural Georgia have been struggling for too many years with maintaining adequate availability of basic health care. With the opening of this clinic, Mercer is demonstrating, once again, that we not only say we support rural health care, we are investing in providing that health care with our community partners.”

In addition to Dr. Sumner and Marlowe, those who spoke at the ribbon-cutting included Mercer Trustee the Rev. Jimmy Elder, Mercer President William D. Underwood, Harris County School District Superintendent Roger Couch, Harris County Board of Commissioners Chairman Andrew Zuerner, Mercer Medicine Chief Operating Officer Kimberly Pitts and MUSM Chief Financial Officer Ben West.

In attendance were State Rep. Richard Smith, State Sen. Randy Robertson, State Rep. Matt Hatchett and Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black. Also present were Hamilton Mayor Julie Brown, members of the Harris County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education, donors and community members.

Mercer Medicine operates a multi-specialty medical complex in downtown Macon in the 43,000-square-foot facility that previously was home to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

In July 2018, Mercer Medicine expanded outside of Macon by opening a rural clinic in Plains at the request of former U.S. President and Mercer Life Trustee Jimmy Carter. At the dedication ceremony for the clinic, Underwood said Mercer Medicine Plains “represents part of a broad-ranging initiative by the University to transform access to health care in this state” and would serve as a model for additional rural health clinics around the state.

Building off that successful launch, and in order to continue delivering on its commitment to meet the health care needs of rural Georgians, Mercer opened rural health clinics in Peach County in October 2019, Clay County in November 2020, and Putnam County in February 2021.

About Mercer University School of Medicine (Macon, Savannah and Columbus)

Mercer University’s School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. Today, more than 60 percent of graduates currently practice in the state of Georgia, and of those, more than 80 percent are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas of Georgia. Mercer medical students benefit from a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. The School opened additional four-year M.D. campuses in Savannah in 2008 and in Columbus in 2021. Following their second year, students participate in core clinical clerkships at the School’s primary teaching hospitals: Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center and Piedmont Macon Medical Centers in Macon; Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah; and Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The School also offers master’s degrees in preclinical sciences and biomedical sciences and a Ph.D. in rural health sciences in Macon and a master’s degree in family therapy in Macon and Atlanta.