CORDELE, Ga. (WALB) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $4.5 million for rural health care in Georgia. A portion is going to Crisp Regional Hospital to help cover a loss of income following the COVID-19 pandemic.
A million dollars goes to Crisp Regional. The money will be used to cover ever-increasing expenses.
Hospital president and CEO Steven Gautney said that among many other procedures, surgeries, emergency room visits and doctor’s offices are usually how they generate revenue. COVID-19 stopped that.
“There were weeks or months when surgery and other outpatient services were closed, and we saw a dramatic drop in the number of people coming because the world was literally about to come to a standstill,” Gautney said.
Hospital vacancies also drive up costs by paying people more to fill a position.
“We’ve seen labor costs and supply costs, much like much of the rest of America, we’ve seen those costs go up as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said said Gautney.
Gautney said he now believes inflation could affect visitation.
“People are experiencing high costs for groceries, drugs, and fuel, so I think all of those things impact people in their willingness to come to the doctor,” Gautney said.
For this reason, the USDA uses this money to help hospitals cover these losses in order to continue providing care. Xochitl Torres Small is the USDA’s Undersecretary for Rural Development.
“We recognize that in the midst of COVID there have been real losses, hospitals have dug deep to find a way to make it work, and that makes it difficult to stay sustainable into the future,” Small said.
Rep. Sanford Bishop said he wants health care to be easily accessible.
“My passion is making sure that no matter what zip code young person, family, small business is in, they have access to resources,” Bishop said.
Because Crisp Regional serves multiple counties, nearly 70,000 people depend on it.
Not only is Crisp Regional vital to healthcare, but also to the economy.
They generate approximately $200 million each year and are one of the county’s largest employers, employing approximately 800 people. Gautney said the money helps them continue their mission.
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