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PCOM assistant professor presents on COVID-19 rural impacts

Updated: Jun. 12, 2020 at 7:20 PM EDT
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MOULTRIE, Ga. (WALB) - An assistant professor at Philadelphia College Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) in Moultrie said the COVID-19 pandemic has pointed out the disparities in rural health care when compared to major cities.

While the coronavirus pandemic made major impacts on our nation and world, its impacts on rural areas like parts of southwest Georgia, are different.

“We had this notion that being in rural America was safe. Rural America was considered a protected space,” said Dr. Stacie Fairley, an Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at PCOM South Georgia.

She gave a presentation to her colleagues at the Suwanee and Philadelphia campus outlining the COVID-19 impacts.

Dr. Stacie Fairley, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, PCOM South Georgia
Dr. Stacie Fairley, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, PCOM South Georgia(Source: WALB)

“While the world is focusing on New York and New Orleans and other metropolitan areas, I found it important to look at those non-metro areas and highlight what’s going on,” said Fairley.

Dr. Fairley said many people don’t realize the disproportionate services rural America has.

Forty-minute drives to the only doctor in town is something she experienced growing up in rural Mississippi.

So, giving the facts of medical operations in these areas, and data of COVID-19 cases and deaths, is something she said was very important.

“I think it highlighted the struggles of rural hospitals. I think it really showed that rural hospitals were not prepared. We don’t have the number of ICU beds that these larger hospitals have. We’re already working on a thin line. Didn’t have enough health-care workers,” Fairley told us.

This, along with hospitals not having enough ventilators to take care of everyone who needs one, is also a point Dr. Fairley said her colleagues, as well as many others, were not aware of and needed to hear.

Dr. Fairley believes her presentation opened her colleagues’ eyes to what’s really happening in rural America.

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