CRISP CO., GA (WALB) - Crisp Regional Hospital is one of four facilities in the state to receive a grant aimed at improving rural healthcare.
Employees said that keeping people safe at a smaller hospital requires efficiency.
"So many times people come to the emergency department when they really don't need to be at the emergency department," Leigh Bailey, a project coordinator at Crisp Regional, said. "They need to be at the physician's office or they can be treated at our rural healthcare clinic."
To make sure patients are where they need to be, Crisp Regional is implementing new programs funded by the $750,000 grant.
The programs include the implementation of new equipment, telemedicine and paramedic visits to those who frequently use emergency room meant to put less stress on the E.R.
"We want to make sure that rural citizens are not left out of all the initiatives nationally, whether it be heart or stroke," Sheila Southerland, Emergency Medical Director, said. "Even in small towns and rural areas, we can get it right."
Workers said that's not always an easy job. Last year alone, 4,000 children came to the emergency room. Of those, 86 percent weren't experiencing an emergency. So, Bailey said the grant was used to create a rural clinic that could free up resources.
"We are kind of Guinea pigs," Bailey said. "If we can make things work in our little hospital, then, they might be worth you implementing in your little hospital."
That learning experience is something Bailey said could be crucial to small hospitals struggling financially across the state.