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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — Mercer University’s Rural Health Innovation Center received honors from the Georgia Senate for their impact in rural areas.
“The center’s responsibilities are ambitious, charged with confronting the complex healthcare challenges and wellness disparities facing rural communities,” said David Lucas, Georgia Senator.
Senator Lucas presented Mercer’s Rural Health Innovation Center with an honorary resolution commending the school for its service to Georgia’s rural communities.
Senator Lucas helped sponsor Resolution 950. He hopes it motivates doctors and nurses to continue closing the gaps in healthcare around Georgia.
“We were the 8-ball when it came to rural health care in Georgia. We talk about two Georgias — Atlanta, and the rest of Georgia,” Senator Lucas said. “People who live in rural Georgia ought not to have a problem when it comes to health care. They should be able to get good health care in the community that they live in.”
Jean Sumner, the Mercer University School of Medicine dean, says the resolution will motivate students to keep pushing boundaries when it comes to healthcare.
“Of course recognition is nice, but we are so deeply committed to rural health,” Sumner said. “It’s nice to be recognized but the only recognition we’re looking for is a healthy Georgia.”
The Rural Health Innovation Center has been open in Macon since 2019. Currently, it serves 69 rural medical centers.
They have implemented resources for leadership, given doctors telehealth, and access to more nurses and doctors.
Laura Gentry, the chief executive officer at the Medical Center of Peach County, says working with the Rural Health Center has been beneficial for her hospital.
“There was a house bill that was passed, HB 769, and it just requires that our board and our executive teams be trained on things,” Gentry said. “You know ethical standards, how to deal with a vendor, laws around physician recruitment, you know we talk about getting more doctors out in rural communities but there are laws around that. So I can tell you the health innovation center has helped us already with that, ensuring we’re getting the training that we need and that making sure the training we get meets the standards of the law.”
Both Gentry and Lucas believe the future of the Rural Health Center is bright, and will only continue to help Georgians facing healthcare challenges.
With Mercer’s help, we will come up with a new way of trying to deal with rural hospitals and trying to provide healthcare in rural Georgia.