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How a Nurse Turned a Testing Van Into a Health Center

In the pandemic, Paula Richardson took it upon herself to help bring health care resources to South DeKalb residents in need.

Nurse Paula Richardson in van
Top Notch Health Solutions’ Paula Richardson is seen in her mobile testing van with a fellow staffer, Quanteria Morton Jr. (Courtesy of Paula Richardson)


In Atlanta, we love a great story, but it ain’t all doom and gloom. With that thought in mind, say hello to Everyday Heroes. This place we call home is filled with ordinary people who accomplish extraordinary feats. Their selfless acts make this region so special — and they bring out the best in all of us. 

This holiday season, Capital B Atlanta, the AJC, and our partners wanted to share their inspiring stories, celebrate their accomplishments, and offer ways that you can help. We’ve profiled three people who are working toward finding solutions to problems in their communities, the metro area, and the state.

From starting out in the trunk of a car to setting up a clinic, Paula Richardson’s mission to distribute rapid COVID-19 tests in South DeKalb rose out of her sense of care and love for the community she grew up in.

A Decatur native, Richardson, now a licensed nurse practitioner, started her journey as an intensive care unit nurse at Emory University Hospital. While there, she saw firsthand the disparities in access to COVID-19 testing and how new variants would impact Black and low-income residents.

Taking matters into her own hands in February 2021, Richardson utilized word-of-mouth to identify areas of need. Next, she took her personal life savings to fund a dedicated mobile van, with the idea to provide COVID-19 testing supplies. The vehicle was first set up in Providence Office Park on Flat Shoals Parkway.

“At that time, so many people were telling me to set up a physical location in Decatur because there were no options for rapid testing there,” Richardson said. “I have had patients tell me that they were being told that a PCR test in Buckhead would cost them $400. For someone living off Candler Road right now, $400 is simply not an option.”

Seven months later, with the use of federal grant money to hire a full-time staff, Richardson was able to open up Top Notch Health Solutions, which has since provided over 40,000 free rapid COVID-19 tests to Black residents in the greater Atlanta area.

Since the time of publishing, Richardson and TN Health Solutions have expanded from a COVID-19 testing and vaccination site to a holistic, multidimensional care facility and now operates as a health clinic partnering with five insurance coverage networks. The facility also provides wellness care ranging from gut health to weight management and offers medical spa services like non-surgical eye lift, hair loss treatment, and microneedling facial rejuvenation.

“It was all a part of the plan to expand,” Richardson said. “We’re still being received in the community as a trusted medical source, so our clientele is growing just as we are.”

And for Richardson, even in expansion, it all goes back to providing health care solutions with Black practitioners for Black communities.

“I chose the area for a reason,” Richardson said. “I want to continue to build on the relationships I have already created with the community and continue to provide care to my neighborhood.”


For more information at Top Notch Health Solutions, visit