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Nonprofit health facility expands

Tradition of helping continues in home

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For more than a century, the Widows Home on Greene Street was a refuge for women.

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People tour the Ann Boardman Widows Home following the dedication.  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
People tour the Ann Boardman Widows Home following the dedication.

The home, which closed in 2003, reopens next month to once again serve those in need.

On Wednesday, Christ Community Health Services dedicated the home, which has undergone nearly $2 million in renovations to transform the 42-room mansion into a modern health care facility.

The Christian nonprofit will provide affordable primary health care to the poor, homeless and uninsured. The doors open to patients in mid-August.

More than 250 people gathered for a celebration and tour, in which a plaque was unveiled honoring the new Ann Boardman Widows Home.

In 2005, her son, Augusta developer Clay Boardman, purchased the property for $230,000 and donated it to Christ Community Health Services, provided that it would be renovated into a health care facility.

The decision pays tribute to the site's historic roots. The property housed the original City Hospital, which became University Hospital, and the Medical Academy of Georgia, now known as Georgia Health Sciences University.

The building, which was built in 1886-87, features 12 new exam rooms, which will allow staffers to see more patients, three-quarters of whom are uninsured.

"This building is a testament of God's faithfulness and his provision for Christ Community Health Services," said Thomas J. Drake, its executive director.

The health center was founded in 2007 by Drs. Robert Campbell and Grant Scarborough to "serve the underserved," Campbell said.

The doctors opened the center with four exam rooms in a renovated warehouse on D'Antignac Street, which University Hospital owns and provides rent-free.

Christ Community now operates with 23 staffers and 10 exam rooms.

That first month, the doctors recorded 65 patient visits. Now, the center averages 900 visits a month, said Ron Skenes, the director of communications and development.

With the Widows Home fully operational, the center will be able to handle more than 2,000 patient visits a month, or about 25,000 to 30,000 a year.

The Widows Home isn't complete yet.

Christ Community has raised nearly $2 million, but an additional $500,000 is needed for the renovation of the second story. The second floor will eventually house a pediatric physical therapy suite, counseling office and classroom.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $3.1 million, which includes $2.5 million for the renovation of both floors, $300,000 for medical equipment and a $300,000 endowment.

Christ Community plans to temporarily suspend operations at the D'Antignac Street office while staffers settle into the Widows Home, but it's clear the D'Antignac office is still needed and will be reopened in the future, Skenes said.

Christ Community plans to bring on two new physicians next month to help with the demand.

The growth has been made possible by the support of other health care facilities in town, in addition to contractors such as R.W. Allen and countless churches and individuals, Skenes said.

"They understand that the emergency room is not the right place to take care of diabetes or high blood pressure," he said. "We provide primary care, often for someone who has never had that before."

Patient success stories abound, he said.

"You hear from people who are healthy now, who were in serious medical distress when we first met them," Skenes said. "This ministry is having that sort of impact."

Three years ago, Ruth Hailey's mother was bed-bound with arthritis. She couldn't find a doctor who would travel until she heard of Christ Community, she said, and Campbell offered a home visit.

"He's been our doctor ever since," Hailey said. She closed Wednesday's dedication with a prayer, thanking God for "visionaries" like Scarborough and Campbell.

They're "saints of God," she said, who have obeyed and trusted in the Lord to bring the center into fruition.

"The vision," she prayed, "has come to reality."

What's next?

- Christ Community Health Services of Augusta has nearly completed the first floor renovation of the historic Widows Home. Over the next month, they'll finish floor restoration and prepare to move in medical equipment.

- In mid-August, CCHS will temporarily close its clinic on D'Antignac Street to make the transition into the Widows Home. Operations are expected to begin sometime in mid-August.

- Fundraising to renovate the second floor of the Widows Home continues. An estimated half million dollars is needed.

- The clinic on D'Antignac Street will eventually reopen, though no date has been set.

Comments (10) Add comment
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my.voice
4731
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my.voice 07/22/11 - 10:36 am
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This is a good investment

This is a good investment downtown for the deserving recipients. These Dr's and staff put their money where their mouth is.

floridasun
310
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floridasun 07/20/11 - 01:43 pm
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Thank you to the Boardman

Thank you to the Boardman family and all who donated to give the Widows home a new mission
A good week for Augusta...dedication of both the Kroc Center and a new home for CCHS

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 07/20/11 - 02:32 pm
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Now this is real community

Now this is real community development.

countyman
19731
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countyman 07/20/11 - 02:51 pm
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The Olde Town neighborhood

The Olde Town neighborhood continues to improve and become one of the trendy areas to live downtown..

Kelly Jasper
86
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Kelly Jasper 07/20/11 - 02:57 pm
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my.voice, perhaps we can get

my.voice, perhaps we can get someone with Christ Community Health Services or Augusta Capital LLC to weigh in, but both parties have said the Widows Home was, in fact, donated.

In 2005, the Chronicle reported that Clay Boardman purchased the Widows Home from an Atlanta developer for $230,000. Ron Skenes of Christ Community said that Boardman donated the home with the stipulation that they develop the Widows Home as a health care facility. Boardman held a promissory note until the groundbreaking of the Widows Home in 2010, when he gave the canceled note to the folks at Christ Community.

jb1968ga
38
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jb1968ga 07/20/11 - 04:51 pm
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I suppose all the editors

I suppose all the editors have left the building?

Riverman1
82436
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Riverman1 07/21/11 - 05:02 am
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Whatever the case of the

Whatever the case of the ownership of the house, it's a fantastic program. Makes us all feel good.

OhWell
326
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OhWell 07/21/11 - 05:38 am
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This is great and cost

This is great and cost effective way for the poor and unisured to get care. As stated in the article the ER is not the place to treat many patients that need continual care. Helping this segment of our citizens get healthy hopefully will return many patients to a productive life in our community.

Cadence
219
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Cadence 07/21/11 - 12:02 pm
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This is excellent.

This is excellent.

mike71345
75
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mike71345 08/10/11 - 12:51 am
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The Chronicle's list of

The Chronicle's list of property transfers for May 22, 2005 includes this–
Capital Housing Partners LLC, Houghton School Lofts LP, Houghton School Lofts Partners LLC and PRS Partners Holdings LLC to Historic Augusta Inc., May 11, 1.98 acres, 333 Greene St.

Historic Augusta Inc. to Downtown Development Authority of the City of Augusta, May 11, 1.98 acres, 333 Greene St.

Downtown Development Authority of the City of Augusta to Augusta Capital LLC, May 11, 1.98 acres, 333 Greene St.

Capital Housing Partners LLC, PRS CHP Augusta LP, PRS CHP Augusta Partners LLC and PRS Partners Holdings LLC to Historic Augusta LP, May 11, 1.24 acres on the corner of Greene and Forsythe streets, 124 Greene St., Easement

Historic Augusta Inc. to Downtown Development Authority of the City of Augusta, May 11, 1.24 acres on the corner of Greene and Forsythe streets, 124 Greene St., Easement

"Downtown Development Authority of the City of Augusta to Augusta Capital LLC, May 11, 1.24 acres on the corner of Greene and Forsythe streets, 124 Greene St., Easement"

It's somewhat strange that no money figures are mentioned, but other news accounts say that the Widows Home was to go for $230,000 and the Houghton School for $270,000. The tax records record the same price for each of the properties–$270,000. Were they sold together for that one price? It's not clear.
Additionally, the DDA (who sold the properties to Boardman) gave him an interest free loan of $200,000 of SPLOST funds to purchase the properties (from the DDA). He ended up selling the Houghton School (partially rehabilitated) for $1,000,000.
An article about this whole transaction would be interesting reading for all city planners interested in community revitalization through creative financing.

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