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Rural Health Care Providers Reach 2 Million Georgians

Rural Health Care Providers Reach 2 Million Georgians

November 7, 2012

State Celebrates Rural Health Day Thursday, November 15

ATLANTA – More than 2 million Georgians count on the services of physicians, hospitals and health care providers who provide critical health services in rural Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Community Health’s (DCH) State Office of Rural Health (SORH) serves 109 of the state’s 159 counties that have populations of less than 35,000. Throughout the state, there are 66 hospitals located in rural counties; 34 of these are Critical Access Hospitals. Twenty-seven Federally Qualified Health Centers provide 135 access points for health care.

“In many cases, patients would be without health care services in these communities except for the dedicated physicians and health care providers who serve them,” said DCH Commissioner David A. Cook. “Even with the advent of telemedicine – to provide access to specialists for consultations and for enhanced care – these physicians and providers are the lifeline to affordable quality health care for these Georgians.”

Georgia is joining the nation to celebrate the second annual Rural Health Day on Thursday, November 15. The commemoration will recognize the contributions of physicians, health care providers and hospitals who provide health care to hundreds of thousands of underserved people in rural areas of the nation. The program is being sponsored by the National Organization of State Rural Health Offices.

“Our mission in the State Office of Rural Health is far-reaching and significant,” said Charles F. Owens, executive director of the SORH. “With the advent of new technologies, including telemedicine and health information technology, this is indeed an exciting time for rural health.”

With a budget of more than $7 million provided from federal and state funds, the SORH administers programs to develop financially viable non-traditional regional systems designed to meet the health and service demands of the communities served. The desired outcomes are:

  • Improvements in rural health
  • A strengthened health care safety net
  • The introduction of health care as a strategic industry in Georgia

The SORH provides financial and technical support to select demonstration communities with the leadership and capacity to collaboratively design and implement models that:

  • Increase access to integrated health services (physical health, prevention services, behavioral health, etc.)
  • Transition to consumer-driven health care
  • Encourage regionalization of services so that providers are more financially stable
  • Use medical technology to improve health outcomes and efficiency
  • Ensure the long-term viability of the state’s health care safety net
  • Ensure continued job opportunities for employees in new roles that support the innovative health care delivery model, as well as creating a strong workforce of healthy citizens

Georgia’s State Office of Rural Health is located in Cordele. Charles F. Owens is the executive director of the office.

About the Georgia Department of Community Health

Through effective planning, purchasing and oversight, the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) provides access to affordable, quality health care to millions of Georgians, including some of the state’s uninsured and most vulnerable populations.

DCH is responsible for Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids,® the State Health Benefit Plan, Healthcare Facility Regulation and Health Information Technology in Georgia.

David A. Cook serves as Commissioner for the Georgia Department of Community Health. To learn more about DCH and its dedication to A Healthy Georgia, visit www.dch.georgia.gov.

Contact Information: 
Pamela A. Keene