After hurricanes have hit, tornadoes have blown through or some other disaster has struck, one of the most common things we hear from survivors as they stand in the rubble is something like, “Thank goodness, we still have our health.” They say that because even while absorbing the shock of their disaster they realize that those who have health still have hope and those who have hope have the key resource to everything else. 

On the other hand, when we are not in the aftermath of a disaster or some other dire strait we sometimes take our health for granted. Further, we take the institutions that support our health for granted. Our doctor’s office and staff are just expected to be there and to be current with medical knowledge. Our hospitals and medical centers are supposed to be in place because we may need emergency services, surgery, intensive care, or other relief of pain and suffering. In Colquitt County, we have that hospital, but that isn’t true everywhere in Georgia. 

In October, citizens of Randolph County (Cuthbert) will wake up to find their hospital closed, a loss already experienced in Stewart County above Albany. In northeast Georgia, the hospital in Jackson County will also close in October. These closures have happened over and over again across rural Georgia over the last several years. We should be appreciative it hasn’t happened here. Colquitt Regional Medical Center is present, open, and fully functional, but given the stresses rural hospitals have been subjected to for the last decade, it isn’t something to take for granted. 

Colquitt Regional is here and healthy not because it’s a natural part of the landscape. It is here because of the determined effort and professional execution by a hospital administration, medical and nursing staff, and services personnel all working in an environment that promotes excellence. Other communities in rural Georgia have had hospitals staffed by well-meaning people who work hard but the hospitals have still failed. That our hospital is not only not closing but still developing is something we should all be grateful for. 

I’m sure the COVID crisis has stressed our local hospital like it has hospitals everywhere, but the most recent report as of this writing (Aug. 29) both from the Georgia Department of Public Health and from Colquitt Regional is that COVID positive rates are around 9% of all COVID tests given. That is a large decline from the 17-18% in June and is due to our wearing masks and practicing social distancing as insisted upon by all competent authorities. As the positivity rates have declined patients once concerned about going to their doctors’ offices are returning and office visits are approaching near pre-COVID levels. The hospital has recently completed a renovation of its main tower, a radiation oncology center is near completion, and a much-needed psychiatric unit is in development. Our hospital is a great example of what health care in rural Georgia can be like. Let’s not take it for granted. 

Terry Turner

Coolidge, Ga.

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