The Mercy Heart free medical clinic was burglarized twice over the last four days and may have to shut down until the damage can be repaired.
Mercy Heart president Darlene Hotchkiss said the clinic, which provides free preventative medical and dental care to Rockdale County residents that can't afford care, was first struck on Thursday night. Burglars broke through a kitchen window and took computer equipment.
Burglars came back again on Sunday night and stole parts from the heating/AC unit. The clinic is now without central heating.
According to Rockdale County Sheriff's Office reports, "the air condition unit had been disassembled next to the building and all the internal metals had been stolen from it."
Hotchkiss said the unit had just been purchased by the nonprofit.
"When you're working from donations, every penny is planned out," she said. "When someone steals from Mercy Heart, they actually steal from someone in the county in need."
She added, "The saddest thing is that the people that it hurts is the patients that have now come to rely on us," such as patients with diabetes or high blood pressure who need regular monitoring.
The clinic, which opened in February, specializes in preventative care for chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Mercy Heart also provides basic dental care, including prophylaxis, extractions and fillings.
This week’s appointments, which are normally held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, are being postponed for now as directors and volunteers scramble to find a way to keep the clinic open.
Mercy Heart was initially founded by First Baptist of Conyers and is the second free clinic for indigent residents in the county, after Helping Hands in Lakeview Estates.
For more information on Mercy Heart or to find out how to donate, call (678) 374-5134 or visit mercyheart.org