Activist group promotes more access to healthcare in Arlington

Activist group promotes more access to healthcare in Arlington
Published: Aug. 28, 2022 at 7:14 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 29, 2022 at 12:18 AM EDT
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ARLINGTON, Ga. (WALB) - Access to healthcare continues to be a big issue for rural communities in southwest Georgia.

Events took place today in Stewart, Randolph, and Calhoun Counties to empower voters to share their voices at the ballot box.

Black Voters Matter wants to empower people to voice their minds at the ballot box
Black Voters Matter wants to empower people to voice their minds at the ballot box(WALB)

Kenisha Jones, Southwest Georgia’s Regional Director for Black Voters Matter, said Medicaid expansion would improve access. To make that change, she wants people to vote.

At the event Sunday, anyone was free to register to vote.

“If we’re not electing officials to bring awareness and real-time solutions to the problems, we’re going to continue to plummet. It is very important for them to understand the process and the importance to voting right now,” Jones said.

Some residents agree with Jones.

“We need people in our office that are concerned about people that cannot afford expensive things like healthcare,” Annie Thornton, an Arlington resident said.

Black Voters Matter volunteers want to make it known to South Georgia residents that although conditions may be bad, that they can change.

“Riding around we see so many dilapidated housing. There’s no attention there. Completely distressed community,” Jones said.

Jones said in her short time in Arlington she sees that people are suffering from a lack of healthcare access.

She’s spoken with people who say they can’t afford care. Jones also said this makes it an unattractive place for hospitals to open.

There was one hospital in Arlington, but it closed many years ago, according to residents.

“A little illness or whatever happens to you, you have to go 35 or 45 miles before you can get some kind of emergency care,” Thornton said.

Albany and Colquitt are the two closest areas to emergency care in Arlington.

Meanwhile, access to transportation also continues to be an issue. This impacts not just emergency medical care, but some health offices that diagnose diseases like sickle cell.

“They need something that is near, especially in Arlington, that would provide the health resources for people in the African-American community because that is what is affecting that population,” Alisha Lewis, the CEO and Founder of Genesic Nonprofit Organization, said.

She said the nearest place for a sickle cell diagnosis is Sylvester which is an hour away.

Phoebe offers mobile care through their health clinic, but that doesn’t solve the root of the problem according to Jones.