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Crisp Regional to offer free transportation services

Sen. Jon Ossoff announces funding to go toward services
Video from WALB
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 6:30 PM EDT
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CORDELE, Ga. (WALB) - Transportation is a barrier that can keep people from seeing the doctor. Crisp Regional officials said it’s one barrier they’ve been facing for years.

Sen. Jon Ossoff announced $400,000 that will go toward transportation at Crisp Regional. Ossoff said this issue is important to rural South Georgia, and it shows after getting support from both Republicans and Democrats.

“Rural Georgia deserves this kind of access to health care,” Ossoff said.

Sen. Jon Ossoff announced that $400,000 will go toward transportation for patients at Crisp...
Sen. Jon Ossoff announced that $400,000 will go toward transportation for patients at Crisp Regional Hospital.(WALB)

He announced this funding after continuing to hear rural towns in south Georgia needed better access to health care.

Video from WALB

“A lot of communities have seen their hospitals close all together. Here in Crisp County, we’ve got this regional health center, but we’ve got to make sure people across the region can get to the doctor’s office,” said Ossoff.

Crisp Regional serves about 23,000 people in the county alone. That doesn’t include the surrounding counties that also use their services.

Crisp Regional CEO and President Steven Gautney said in many cases, they’ve had people cancel appointments, not show up or in general, not schedule them.

Crisp Regional CEO and President Steven Gautney said in many cases, they’ve had people cancel...
Crisp Regional CEO and President Steven Gautney said in many cases, they’ve had people cancel appointments, not show up or in general, not schedule them.(WALB)

“Even when they need lifesaving treatment sometimes, they don’t have a way to the hospital. That’s what we hear. We’ve got the resources here. Their lives could be better, their health could be better if they would access those,” said Gautney.

Emergency medical services can’t be used as transportation. Gautney said that’s because they’re responding to other emergency calls.

This is where the money for vans or buses comes into play.

Not only will they be used for families, kids, the elderly, and people in nursing homes, but they will also be wheelchair accessible. Picking patients up at their desired location and dropping them back off.

Cordele residents Jackie Brown and Cassandra McKenzie said getting to and from the hospital has...
Cordele residents Jackie Brown and Cassandra McKenzie said getting to and from the hospital has always been an issue.(WALB)

Jackie Brown and Cassandra McKenzie have lived in Cordele for most of their lives.

They said getting to and from the hospital has always been an issue. If you don’t have your own way of getting there, Brown and Mckenzie said you’re left to rely on family, which isn’t always reliable.

“Then you gotta cancel your appointment because you don’t have a ride to get to where you need to go,” said Brown.

In some cases, they’ve seen people use electric wheelchairs to go to the hospital, going across high-traffic roadways.

“It’s dangerous for (those that are) handicapped and these disabled people to get back and forth to where they need to go,” said McKenzie.

Hoping to fix that issue, the new transportation will be wheelchair-accessible.

“My hope is communities who access their health care here, whatever county they live in, will have access to these transportation services,” said Ossoff.

Hospital officials said this is really a strategy to make sure people have a way to access medical care and live a healthier life if they use it.

Brown said it’s likely they will.

They’re expecting transportation will be accessible and functional within the next six months.

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