SPARTA, Ga. — It's no shock to the people in rural counties that health care is limited. The drive to these services is not close. With small emergency medical units, little to no licensed counselors, and other basic necessities, it can be hard for the community to call for help when they are in need.
There was once a Hancock Memorial hospital in Sparta, but it closed almost 20 years ago, so what have the city mayor, councilmembers and doctors been doing to provide for the community?
Councilman Prince Rav Yisrael brought in physician assistant Johnny Presley and Dr. Cynthia Sadler to speak with Sparta Mayor Allan Haywood and Chairman Sistie Hudson about bringing putting an urgent care clinic in the city. Haywood says getting the urgent care clinic takes time because they need doctors and a provider who will support the clinic.
"We just got to have a partner for an urgent care. I'm very, very, very excited about this project with these folks," Haywood says.
Paula Dixon has been working with the city official and doing her own research about adding other medical services in Sparta. She hopes to see more than just an urgent care clinic.
"With the rural emergency hospital and critical access hospital, I think that would be a plus. I think we need to put all options on the table, not just urgent health care," Dixon said.
Haywood told 13WMAZ since the county is majority low-income, getting grants to fund the clinic won't be an issue. However, Dr. Sadler says the community has to want the urgent care clinic before they put one in Sparta.
"The transition from planning to planning to implementation depends on the community because you have to have the buy-in from the community," Sadler says.
Councilman Prince Rav Yisrael says politics aside this is what the county needs. Currently, his mother is on 24-hour care in New York. He couldn't imagine what his mother would go through if she were living in Sparta.
If someone in Hancock County needs medical attention, they have to drive almost 45 minutes to Milledgeville or 30 minutes to Sandersville. Both are in opposite directions and in different counties. If it's a more serious medical emergency, the closest trauma one hospitals are in Macon or Augusta, which are hours apart.
During the meeting, there was no definitive timeline of when the urgent care clinic would come to Sparta.