Urban Health and Wellness Saving Lives with Free Healthcare

At the January 22nd meeting of the Rotary Club of Atlanta West End, Richard Gerakitis made his characteristic warm and informative introduction of Mss. Susan Whatley and Rachel Barber, creators and ultimate doers of Urban Health & Wellness Center in Atlanta’s West End. They said their mission is to provide free healthcare, education and support to those who are uninsured in Metro Atlanta. It is the only free health clinic in Fulton County, so they are urging replication of UH&WC given the need. They began in a church on Georgia Avenue in Grant Part in 2016, where on $15,000 they were able to serve 67 persons. In 18 months they moved west to Adair Park, at 859 Metropolitan Parkway in 1000’ square feet. Last year patients served totaled 753 with services valued at $783,000 on cash income of $116K; the 2021 budget is $200K. There is no billing of Medicaid for insurance because patients do not have insurance, which makes the Urban Health & Wellness Center essential. All monies received are raised through donations. Actually, with more space they could do more and currently do many things an MD would do, but with their expertise Susan and Rachel are permitted to do. This creates more options for people with no insurance and very little cash. A ‘secret’ to their success at getting so much done with so few dollars lay in their uncanny ability to prevail on gathering other services, some of which is done for free but via referrals. These partnerships build community among other professionals and bring the practical benefit by identifying and providing services for clients that would be too expensive. UH&WC creates community with other caring professionals. Among many fine partners is UBER who help provide transportation when needed and at no cost to patients. They have added to the UH&WC service force through an internship program in cooperation with Atlanta Technical College. On Covid-19 vaccines for now there is no deepfreeze storage capacity, therefore UH&WC does not administer the Covid-19 vaccine. However, through telemedicine they have also increased services. The Center does not provide mental health services. With additional needed space, they envision adding both dental services and vision services. But even now some dental service have been enabled through referrals to other practitioners. Clearly lives are saved as in the case of a person who was able to receive dialysis treatments without which he would have died. With additional space and more dollars more lives would be saved, and greater numbers would receive what most Americans believe to be a right: health care … made very real daily by Susan and Rachel. To learn more and to find ways you can be a helper to others, see visit

Posted by Neil Shorthouse
January 22, 2021 2:00pm


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