CORDELE, Ga. (WALB) — Transportation is a barrier that can keep people from seeing the doctor. Crisp Regional officials said it was a hurdle they had faced for years.
Senator Jon Ossoff announced that $400,000 will go towards transportation at Crisp Regional. Ossoff said this issue matters to rural South Georgia, and it shows after winning support from both Republicans and Democrats.
“Rural Georgia deserves this kind of access to health care,” Ossoff said.
He announced the funding after continuing to hear that rural towns in southern Georgia need better access to health care.
“Many communities have seen their hospitals shut down all together. Here in Crisp County we have this regional health center, but we need to make sure people from across the region can get to the doctor’s office,” Ossoff said.
Crisp Regional serves approximately 23,000 people in the county alone. This does not include surrounding counties which also use their services.
Crisp CEO and Regional President Steven Gautney said in many cases people canceled appointments, didn’t show up, or generally didn’t schedule them.
“Even when they sometimes need life-saving treatment, they don’t have the means to get to the hospital. That’s what we hear. We have the resources here. Their life could be better, their health could be better if they had access to it,” Gautney said.
Emergency medical services cannot be used as transportation. Gautney said it was because they were responding to other emergency calls.
This is where money for vans or buses comes in.
Not only will they be used for families, children, the elderly and people in nursing homes, but they will also be wheelchair accessible. Pick up patients from the desired location and drop them off.
Jackie Brown and Cassandra McKenzie have lived in Cordele for most of their lives.
They said getting to and from the hospital has always been a problem. If you don’t have your own way of getting there, Brown and Mckenzie said you have to rely on family, which isn’t always reliable.
“Then you have to cancel your appointment because you don’t have a ride to get you where you need to go,” Brown said.
In some cases, they saw people using electric wheelchairs to get to hospitals, crossing busy roads.
“It’s dangerous for (those with) disabilities and those disabled people to go back and forth to where they need to go,” McKenzie said.
In hopes of solving this problem, the new transport will be wheelchair accessible.
“I hope communities accessing their health care here, no matter what county they live in, will have access to these transportation services,” Ossoff said.
Hospital officials said it was really a strategy to make sure people had a way to access medical care and live healthier lives if they used it.
Brown said it’s likely they will.
They expect transportation to be accessible and functional within the next six months.
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