By Angie Thompson

TIFTON -- Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) is considering moving its WorkSmart services closer to the patients who use it most -- employees in the industrial park off Union Road. The idea was discussed Monday at the meeting of the Tifton-Tift County Development Authority.

WorkSmart is currently located at the corner of 20th Street and Lee Avenue. The occupational medical program, operated by TRMC, provides medical services to employees. Physicians and staff care for patients with minor illnesses and injuries, provide health screenings for employees and those issuing specific licenses and drug testing.

"Industry wants us to move out there," said Bill Richardson, TRMC president and CEO.

James Chavez, Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce president and member of the authority, said the partnership between TRMC's WorkSmart and industry "has been an inducement" for various developments to locate here.

"Plant managers discussed this in Round Table meetings," Chavez said.

Richardson said employers have told him that when an employees has to see a physician, travel time and time at the facility takes time away from work.

Richardson said the idea is still in the discussion phase, but one benefit to TRMC would be the added parking and office space if WorkSmart relocated.

Richardson said it would cost $1.5 million to build a new facility this side of Target. The facility has $12,000 in the proposed budget for rent each month on a building. The funding would come from TRMC or the authority or a combination of the two.

"It is a great concept," said Buddy Bryan, authority chairman. "You like to get those employees back on the job as soon as possible.

To contact reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.

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