Rural health care

UGA won an award for for helping and supporting local medical care. A patient is being served at Taylor Express Care, the urgent care facility the Community Health Needs Assessment by UGA graduate students in public health conducted.

In recognition of the University of Georgia’s efforts to save a local hospital in rural Georgia from closing and to support local medical care, UGA received a National Award of Excellence from the University Economic Development Association.

The UEDA held an annual summit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from Oct. 21-23, where they honored UGA’s Archway Partnership with their top award.

The Archway Partnership is a part of UGA’s Public Service and Outreach Division and serves the state of Georgia by responding to issues related to economic development.

“It is truly an honor to be selected for this national award by a group of our peers,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead in a press release. “This is a well-deserved recognition for our public service and outreach faculty and staff who fulfill this university’s land-grant and sea-grant mission by addressing critical issues across the state.”

Taylor Regional Hospital of Pulaski County, 50 miles outside of Macon, nearly shut down in December 2015. The hospital did not have the necessary funds to complete a Community Needs Health Assessment of the hospital, a requirement under the Affordable Care Act.

Without the assessment, the hospital would have lost its nonprofit status, forcing them to close.

To prevent the hospital from closing its doors, the Archway Partnership and the UGA College of Public Health worked to complete the assessment.

According to the press release, their efforts included defining the community and service area, creating a community profile, conducting focus groups and administering a survey to local residents.

The survey highlighted the community’s need for the facility and for the creation of a walk-in clinic, which caters to nonlife-threatening illnesses and injuries.

In response, Taylor Express, a walk-in clinic, opened next door in June 2016. Since then, emergency room traffic has declined by 10 percent.

“The work of the Archway Partnership in Pulaski County truly stands out as exceptional,” said E.R. “Skip” McDannald, who retired as Taylor Regional administrator on Oct. 1 and accompanied Archway Partnership faculty and staff to the UEDA summit, in a press release. “Our hospital benefited and the outlook improved as a direct result of this partnership with the university and our local stakeholders through the Archway Partnership.”

UGA students and faculty are targeting other Archway communities facing difficulties related to health care, said Rob Gordon, the Archway Partnership director.

“This is a great example of how UGA’s commitment to rural Georgia through the Archway Partnership is directly helping Georgia’s communities,” Gordon said in the press release.

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