And they say women are too soft for politics! Chair Sharon Cooper of Marietta removes all doubt of that today in her comments to Galloway in response to Medicaid expansion. She suggests rural hospitals may need to close due to the fact that in certain Georgia communities these hospitals may not be self-sustaining.
Galloway offers the glaring challenge to her assertions, “But the problem is more circular in south Georgia: The region is losing population because there are no jobs. There are no jobs because companies are unwilling to relocate. Companies are unwilling to relocate because of a lack of health care.”
I’d say it was circular just outside the perimeter, y’all. You don’t even have to drive down 75. Come on down the Atlanta Highway and you will find that Walton County has a new hospital. It is a major economic driver and employer in the area. It provides essential care and jobs to the community that would otherwise have to drive to Athens Regional.
Although I don’t live there any longer, it is nice to know that other kids growing up with type 1 diabetes will not have to drive all the way to Athens for urgent care like my parents took me. Those minutes are life-saving and the proximity of a community hospital being closer is an undeniable comfort to families in emergency situations.
I think this speaks to a larger problem in Georgia, though.
We just do not care.
For whatever reason, we don’t seem to care here about other people. We would rather see them essentially die on the side of the road rather than pay $10 for a trauma center. For a state that in some ways prides itself on having strong values and faith, what grace have we been willing to show to our friends in central and south Georgia? I’m not making an argument for Medicaid, for the ACA, or for government sponsored anything. I am asking what this says about us when we are asked to open our wallets and pay for something with no personal ROI?
And don’t think that OTP folks want any help from Atlantans (monetary or otherwise) – we have prided ourselves on standing on our own, having unique stories, cultures and communities diverse and rich in each small to medium sized town. There is a pride in GOOA that is undeniably beautiful for its strength and independence.
But allocating state funds to care for folks in outer-lying areas is not a hand out IMHO. That’s an investment in rural communities and rural people. Is GOOA not worth that investment? I’d kindly ask the chair lady to come visit when she has time. These rural hospitals are worth her time and the investment of Georgia.
“It is a rare privilege, sir, to have had part, however humble, in this work. Never was nobler duty confided to human hands than the uplifting and upbuilding of the prostrate and bleeding South, misguided perhaps, but beautiful in her suffering, and honest, brave and generous always.” –Henry Grady, “The New South”