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Georgia Baptist Health Care System has become a hospital without walls


The Georgia Baptist Health Care System no longer has a hospital constructed with brick and mortar, but continues to maintain a ministry of helping the physical and spiritual needs of people both in Georgia and those far from the borders of our state.

With the endowment established after the sale of the hospitals and physical assets owned by the GBHCS, the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation supports programs that strengthen the health of people and their communities.

With approximately $150,000,000 in the corpus of the Foundation, the trustees of the GBHCMF voted to give away 80 percent of the earnings each year with 20 percent going back to the corpus each year to offset inflation.


Members of Georgia Baptist Health Care System are, seated left to right, Dannie Williams, Toni Barnett, Frank Cox, Kathy Jolly and Leland Strange. Standing left to right are Dan Spencer, Charles Bridges, Thomas Duvall, Frank Upchurch, Arnold Johnson, Robert White and Jerry Peele.

That decision of the trustees has provided $3,641,481 for distribution to Baptist and community causes from the 2005 allocations. The trustees designated $3,285,741 for Baptist causes and the remaining $355,740 for community causes to meet needs in those areas where the GBHCS had health care related operations.


More than a century of help

In 1901 Georgia Baptists got into the health care business when Leonard Gaston Broughton was called to be the pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Atlanta. Broughton, who had been a physician, saw the physical needs of many people in downtown Atlanta and opened the Tabernacle Infirmary with three beds. In 1913 the Georgia Baptist Convention purchased the Infirmary and named it Georgia Baptist Hospital.

In 1926 the hospital moved to East Avenue and Boulevard and eight years later Georgia’s first cancer clinic was established on the hospital’s campus. Before the end of World War II there were 250 physicians on staff supported by 188 employees.

Georgia Baptist Hospital was a pioneer in the area of coronary care and founded the Southeast’s first and the country’s third cardiac rehabilitation program. By the mid-1990s Georgia Baptists could boast of six hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, a Level One emergency trauma center as well as coronary, surgical and neonatal intensive care facilities.

Growing health care costs and increasing liability issues that have caused many health care facilities to face insurmountable financial obstacles led Georgia Baptist leadership to sell the physical facilities that had marked the hospital system for years. The financial gain from the wise sale of these facilities has now provided the funds to create a “hospital without walls.”

Frank Upchurch, president and chief executive officer of the Health Care System, remarked, “As a hospital without walls we are able to help people all across the state and around the world instead of in a specific area.”

A limited amount of funds from the Health Care Ministry Foundation has been made available to assist Georgia Baptist pastors. Danny Watters, specialist for Church-Minister Relations commented, “We are grateful for the money we have received from the Foundation to assist with the health of our ministers and their families. The number of pastors in need of financial assistance seems to be growing exponentially.”


Growing partnerships

Upchurch has also indicated that some of the money from the Foundation has been used to provide a mobile health unit for migrant workers in California. This kind of support has greatly enhanced the mission partnership between Georgia Baptists and California Baptists.

One of our mission partnership countries is Moldova, and they are beginning to feel a positive impact from some of the money provided by the Health Care Ministry Foundation. Georgia Baptist college students are going to Moldova on a medical mission trip to spread the Gospel and funds from the Foundation make it possible. Warren Skinner, consultant in Collegiate Ministries, stated, “Two factors within the past several months are allowing us to expand our scope of partnership and ability to reach people for Christ in Moldova. The first piece fell into place with the hiring last summer of Karen Shumaker, a registered nurse, as a campus minister at the University of Georgia. The second element is a grant recently received from the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation. With these two factors in place, Collegiate Ministries now has the resources to include medical missions as yet another vehicle for discipling students in missions and for reaching the people of Moldova.”

Skinner continued, “The funds from GBHCMF will directly impact the wellbeing and spiritual state of Moldovans this summer through the faithfulness of Karen and her team of students from across the landscape of Georgia universities. But, the ramifications are not limited to just a single mission trip. Benefits of the grant from GBHCMF will actually impact mission efforts around the globe, not simply Moldova. Hopefully, this will lay a firm foundation for a partnership between GBCHMF and Collegiate Ministries in improving healthcare around the world, reaching people for Christ, and discipling young healthcare professionals to use their gifts and abilities in service to Christ.”

These first grants from the GBC Health Care Ministry Foundation will touch many lives and provide support for the sending of missionaries to the “ready for harvest” fields.