Mercer University Rural Health Innovation Center receives honor from Georgia Senate

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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.

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Peyton Lewis is a 20-year-old reporter from Stockbridge, Georgia. She graduated in December of 2019 with her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia. She found a love for reporting after receiving a video camera for her 8th birthday. She and her friends would make mock newscasts in her backyard other creative content. Peyton's love for writing and creating videos pushed her to pursue journalism. In order to kick-start her dream of being a reporter, she left the traditional high school experience at the age of 16 to attend Gordon State College as a full-time student. She graduated with her Associate's degree two weeks before graduating from high school. Previously, Peyton worked as a news intern for 11 Alive in Atlanta, a radio intern for the Joy FM, and a reporter/ technical manager for Grady Newsource. Peyton dreams to become an investigative reporter that leaves a lasting impact on the world around her. She loves Disney, dogs, spicy food, musicals, and her family. Peyton also enjoys reading, watching movies, cheering on the Dawgs, and going on new adventures.