June 15, 2015

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Dr. J. Myron Faircloth Works to Improve Health, Safety of Rural South Georgians

VALDOSTA — From educator to health care provider to law enforcement officer to concerned citizen, Valdosta State University’s Dr. J. Myron Faircloth wears many hats.

“There is never a dull moment,” he said. “I enjoy being busy, and combining these roles definitely fulfills that.

“… I believe the underlying motivation is public service. Whether teaching, providing health care, patrolling, or legislative work, serving the public is very satisfying, knowing that it contributes to a greater good. There is enjoyment in performing a job that is done both safely and well, while achieving positive outcomes.

“While different, these many roles allow me the opportunity to save lives, help people make better choices, provide diversity in the job tasks, experience new challenges every day, and … serve the community.”

Improving Health Care

One year has passed since Faircloth established a primary health care practice in a small, rural, one-stoplight town.

One year … and he remains committed to bringing back the days when health-related decisions were made by a patient and his or her health care provider, days when health care providers knew their patients and their families. 

Faircloth opened Peach City Walk-In Clinic LLC in the Brooks County town of Morven, a charming place known for its peaches and homemade peach ice cream (Lawson Peach Shed), annual Peach Festival held the third weekend of May, award-winning barbecue (Miller’s BBQ), and fresh, wild-caught seafood (Pike’s Landing), on June 2, 2014. With a population of 550 or so, it is the kind of place where families have lived for generations, where neighbors all know each other by name.

Born in Homerville and raised in the Morven/Barney area most of his life, Faircloth used his own money, along with in-kind and monetary donations from residents in the small town and nearby Valdosta community, to open the clinic. He described the experience as a true community effort — and a much-needed one.

“Due to this being a rural area,” explained the practicing family nurse practitioner and assistant professor of nursing in VSU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, “there is a lack of providers, along with a decrease in health care coverage, which leads to higher mortality and morbidity rates. One of the greatest acts that a person can do is to give back to others and their community. This was my way not only to improve the health care of the citizens but also to give back to my hometown.”

Faircloth said that the community’s response to the clinic has been “overwhelming,” with residents young and old offering to volunteer their time and services to help their families, friends, and neighbors get well, stay well, and live long, happy, and healthy lives. 

Located at 468 Park St. in Morven, Peach City Walk-In Clinic LLC is a cash clinic, and patients from newborn to adult pay a flat $50 for an office visit, with necessary supplies and medications costing a little extra. Days and hours of operation vary, but patients know that the small-town health care provider is just a phone call away if they need help.

The Peach City Walk-In Clinic LLC health care team, which includes Faircloth and Dr. Alberto Garcia and Dr. Vera Garcia of Valdosta-based G & G Family Medicine MD PC, is able to treat any and all conditions at the clinic — except chronic pain management. Plans are underway to welcome a fourth health care provider to help staff the clinic on a more regular basis. Among those who have expressed an interest in serving is a VSU College of Nursing and Health Sciences alum. 

“The clinic is doing well and continues to increase access to care and provide quality, affordable health care,” Faircloth said.

Before the clinic opened its doors, Morven’s citizens had to travel to Valdosta or to Quitman for medical treatment. Many of them were not seeking out health care due to a lack of insurance and transportation.

Faircloth referred to Peach City Walk-In Clinic LLC as one more example of VSU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences supporting South Georgia communities and families through increased access to health care providers. The clinic also benefits the university by expanding opportunities for faculty to maintain clinical practice skills and students across all health disciplines to gain valuable experience caring for patients in rural, community-based settings. He has already had a couple of students from the university’s nurse practitioner tracks train at the clinic and is truly excited about the “great relationship” forming between the clinic, the university, and the small town.

During the 2014 fall semester, Faircloth and Dr. B. LaGary Carter, assistant dean and associate professor of exercise physiology in VSU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, coordinated a health fair in Morven. On Oct. 18, 2014, faculty and students from the university’s nurse practitioner programs, exercise physiology program, and Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, along with volunteers from the Georgia Department of Public Health’s South Health District and Walgreens Pharmacy, provided free cholesterol and glucose screenings, flu vaccinations, blood pressure screenings, hearing screenings, health education materials, and more to the men, women, and children of rural South Georgia. 

Faircloth said none of this would have been possible without the ongoing support of Morven’s L. E. Godwin Jr., mayor; Lynwood Yates, police chief; Sandy Yates, city clerk, and the five-member city council, as well as the county’s leadership. He said it also would not have been possible without Dan and Jackie McLeod, who provided a building to house the clinic; Tim and Linda Coombs of Coombs Heating and Air Conditioning Inc., who provided a heating and cooling system; and the Garcias, who believed in his dream and offered to help, having also realized a need to provide care to the town’s residents.

“This is an example of successful inter-professional collaboration and community partnership,” he said.

Serving and Protecting

Faircloth earned his law enforcement certification and joined the Morven Police Department in December 2014. He typically patrols the streets and neighborhoods of the small, rural, one-stoplight town one or two days a week.

“Most of my encounters have been traffic enforcement,” he said. “I have also participated with the Southern Regional Traffic Enforcement Network.”

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, in cooperation with state and local law enforcement agencies, formed 16 regional traffic enforcement networks around the state. The Southern Regional Traffic Enforcement Network serves Atkinson, Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Clinch, Coffee, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, and Tift counties.   

Faircloth attended the Basic Police Officer Training program offered by the Georgia Public Safety Training Center at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. He realized a long-time, childhood dream the day he graduated.

“Although I pursued a medical degree, I never lost that interest in becoming a police officer,” he said. “… Morven is my hometown, and my law enforcement career allows for new challenges along with the rewards of serving the community.”

Wearing Many Hats

Faircloth joined the VSU faculty in 2007 as an instructor in the College of Nursing and Health Science’s Adult/Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Program. A practicing family nurse practitioner with admitting privileges at Smith Northview Hospital, he maintains an active practice at G & G Family Medicine MD PC, where he has worked since 2011, when not teaching. He is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, and American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Faircloth earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice from Georgia Southern University in 2011, a Master of Science in Nursing from Brenau University in 2002, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from VSU in 1995. He is a Georgia Board of Nursing-licensed registered nurse and advanced practice registered nurse. He is certified as a family nurse practitioner by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

In January of 2013, Faircloth kicked off a four-year term as a member of the Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits. Appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal, his role with this group is to advise the governor and Georgia General Assembly on both the social and financial impact of current and proposed health insurance benefit and provider mandates on small businesses.

In early 2014, Faircloth was named a member of the second class of the State Bar of Georgia’s Citizens Advisory Council. On July 22 of that same year, he was unanimously appointed by the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners to serve on the Lowndes County Board of Health. He also serves as honorary commander of Moody Air Force Base’s 23rd Medical Group.