Rural healthcare leaders discuss problems, solutions

Rural healthcare leaders discuss problems, solutions
Doug Patten is an Associate Dean at Augusta University. (Source: WALB)
Doug Patten is an Associate Dean at Augusta University. (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Healthcare leaders are working to address the many issues rural areas are facing.

On Wednesday, Augusta University's Health Systems Center for Rural Health hosted a meeting with healthcare leaders from around the state.

Local providers spoke about initiatives they are finding successful and unsuccessful in terms or rural health.

Associate Dean at Augusta University Doug Patten said some struggles come with rural hospitals relying heavily on federal payments because so many of the patients in rural Georgia are on Medicare or Medicaid.

Right now, Patten said there's a lot of uncertainty about the future of those programs.

Another struggle facing rural healthcare is the competitive hospital environment.

"But there are times when hospitals who are actually competing have to get together and decide to collaborate on certain services that benefit the health of the community so that each of them can benefit," explained Patten.

The conference also discussed how they can educate volunteer boards because they represent the public.

At the end of the day, Patten said the board members may be in the hospital's coverage area longer than the CEOs.

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