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Cole takes lead at
Hands of Hope Clinic


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent 

  Mollie Cole has officially assumed the role of executive director for Hands of Hope Clinic as of the beginning of 2014. She succeeded Ruth Rucker, who retired last month but is sticking around for a little while to help with the transition.

Mollie Cole has been selected as Executive Director for the Hands of Hope Clinic.                   Special photo

  Rucker was a founding board  member of the clinic, which was established in 2004 to serve the needs of uninsured and underserved residents of Henry County. It initially operated in a small space at McDonough Presbyterian Church, and Cole became a supporter back then as a member of the church.

  For several years the clinic has been based on the campus of Piedmont Henry Hospital, where in 2013 its 80 or so volunteers handled nearly 2,500 patient visits, bringing the number of total visits since its inception to more than 17,000.

  To qualify for clinic services patients must be residents of Henry County, have no health insurance, and demonstrate that their income falls within 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

  Rucker became executive director in March of 2010, and with her medical background as a nurse she has implemented a number of operational changes that have made it a smooth-running operation, according to Cole.

  “I see my job primarily as increasing capacity so we can see more patients,” said Cole, who added that she will work to increase funding and space at the clinic to make that happen.

  The clinic’s partnership with the hospital is a strong one, as Piedmont Henry donates the clinic’s space as well as diagnostic services. Cole has been talking to hospital officials about extending that partnership in ways that will help both entities – for example, diverting some of the hospital’s emergency room patients to the clinic when they have issues that can be treated there.

  “Going forward those two organizations will bond even closer because they have a shared objective – finding care for people at the lower end of the economic spectrum,” said Rucker of the clinic and the hospital.

  “The clinic is in a great place right now. We’ll never have enough money or volunteers, but the attention over recent years has been really positive,” she added. “We are realizing there that the new health care changes will not be a panacea and there will still be a lot of people who don’t have access to care.”

  Cole is a longtime Henry County resident and most recently a sixth-grade science teacher in the public school system with a master’s degree in educational counseling. She has done a considerable amount of volunteer work locally and is a past president of the local Prevent Child Abuse organization.

  “Mollie comes with great experience, but even more importantly, she has a real passion for nonprofit work,” said Rucker. “The two things you need most in this job are a sense of adventure and a passion for the work.”

  That passion stems from the earliest days of Cole’s professional life, when she was an intern with the American Cancer Society around the time of her graduation from the University of Georgia.

  “I always wanted to do something that involved service and helping other people,” said Cole. “It was during that internship that I realized I had found what I wanted to do. I look forward to working with the staff and volunteers to continue to provide health and dental services to our neighbors who need them most."

  For more information about Hands of Hope Clinic, call 770-507-1344 or visit



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