MCG Health Inc. is looking to establish a presence in south Augusta by turning a former car dealership into an eye clinic.
When it opens, MCG Eye Care Associates-South Augusta will be the first medical facility associated with Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics in that part of the county, which officials say remains underserved in terms of access to convenient health care.
"What we have tried to do is take a good look at what the demographics of the areas are and any gaps in service that there might be," said Rich Bias, MCG Health's vice president of ambulatory and network services.
One gap was in ophthalmology, the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases.
MCG's eye clinic is expected to open in February at Peach Orchard and Windsor Spring roads. The health system purchased the former Sunbelt Nissan dealership, which moved to Washington Road, and plans to put eight examination rooms, a surgical area for minor operations and an optical shop in what was the 7,000-square-foot showroom building.
An optometrist will work out of the clinic, performing general eye exams, contact lens fittings and other work, and one-third of the building will be left for expansion.
"The long-range plan is to have some of the other special doctors come out there as needed," said David Bogorad, the clinic's lead physician.
Much of the medical growth in the county has been concentrated near hospitals' main campuses in the downtown medical district, west Augusta or Wrightsboro Road.
Now some have satellite clinics in south Augusta so residents and workers at the industrial plants there do not have to drive far for routine services.
St. Joseph Hospital opened its Southern Family Medical Center on Mike Padgett Highway in September.
"It was to increase access for the people on the south side of Augusta and bring a presence for St. Joseph to that area," hospital CEO Andrew Lasser said.
University Hospital's Medical Center facility in south Richmond County has been steadily growing during the 10 years it has been operating on Peach Orchard Road, said John Polak, the medical director of the occupational medicine center there.
"We have gone from a part-time doctor to two full-time doctors," he said. "We see over a thousand (patients) a month in occupational medicine."
Dr. Polak said there is a potential for growth in medical services for south Augusta.
"It's slowly coming around," he said.
Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 823-3227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.