Caring for communities in Clayton County

Dr. Robert Merrick spent more than four decades healing residents of Clayton County. He retired in 2015 and now cares for people in a new way.

Dr. Merrick gave the founding gift to the Foundation of Cornerstone Communities Endowment, a new fund hosted by the Clayton County Foundation for the Future. The fund supports initiatives and programs that directly impact the everyday health and vitality of residents of all ages in the region served by Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics, including the Cornerstone Family Practice clinic communities of Guttenberg, Garnavillo and Edgewood. “It is important to me that this new foundation pull together these Clayton County communities to work toward a positive future for all,” said Dr. Merrick.

Attracting and retaining young families is a concern throughout the region: For schools with declining enrollment, employers recruiting staff (including physicians) and hospitals serving dwindling populations. 

“While we live in a beautiful place, like most rural communities we are shrinking,” Dr. Merrick said. “We believe the most effective way to grow our population tomorrow is to build healthy, vibrant communities today.”

The Foundation for Cornerstone Communities is building relationships with community leaders and will provide grants to nonprofits taking bold steps to:

- Strengthen and grow recreational and social activities that support the everyday health and vitality of residents, such as by developing outdoor trails.

- Drive community efforts to support local entrepreneurs, such as a co-op or shared workspace.

- Celebrate and enhance the historic and authentic character and sense of our communities, such as by revitalizing signature structures.

“To continue maintaining and enhancing the quality of health care we have created here, we all need to support and celebrate the achievements of our communities,” said Dr. Merrick. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the im-portance of rural health care and maintaining our residents’ well-being. 

Contact Emily Sadewasser, foundation coordinator, to learn how you can provide support.