Senate Rural Committee addresses hospital stabilization

BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) - Georgia Senators on the Rural Study Committee visited Bainbridge Tuesday morning to hear from local leaders on challenges and ways to improve education and healthcare.

First to address the Senate committee was Dr. Stuart Rayfield, the interim president of Bainbridge State College, who talked briefly about the declining enrollment numbers over the years. She also spoke about the new consolidation and agreements with ABAC and SRTC.

The next speaker who addressed rural hospital stabilization was Jimmy Lewis, who gave an update on the status of the Governor's Rural Hospital Stabilization plan that began back in 2013.

Right now, the RHSC is in Phase III, which means they have 12 hospitals they are currently working with on funding and improvements.

Lewis spoke about Miller County Hospital, which continues to grow stronger, and the success they have had by adding more beds in 2016 and increasing employees.

Lewis said improving these rural hospitals starts with communication.

"Public health, ambulances, and others went on and on and on, and didn't talk to each other. If we don't talk to each other, we create an extremely cumbersome and ineffective system. This program has identified that and done a great job," said Lewis.

Bainbridge was the first stop for these senators, Tuesday night they were in Fort Gaines, and Thursday morning, they will be in Americus, at the Georgia Southwestern State University.

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