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Rural residents hesitate to seek healthcare

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JULIETTE, Ga.-- Jonathon Green wants everyone to know that hospitals are still safe to visit.

Green is the CEO of Taylor Healthcare Group in Pulaski County. He says that he and other healthcare professionals in rural areas are concerned that people might be too hesitant to go in for treatment when they need it.

Green suggests that his healthcare group's initial shut-down response to COVID-19 was intended to keep people safe, but may have scared some people into thinking hospitals were no longer safe places to go for healthcare.

On top of the initial shock, he speculates that COVID-19 is intimidating residents all on its own. For many, distance also plays a role in decision-making. Thousands of Middle Georgia residents live at least half an hour from their nearest hospital.

“I think the hesitation just came from the virus itself. Just the not knowing. Really, the unknown is what makes people hesitate. I think sometimes people are afraid to know if they have COVID-19 or something else," said Green.

In quiet Juliette, rural residents actually have mixed feelings on whether to go to the hospital or not. As part of Monroe county, Juliette's nearest hospital is about 20 minutes away in neighboring Forsyth.

Shop owner, Ken Duffy, had no hesitation when asked how long he would wait to visit a hospital. "Probably a half-hour," he said.

Another resident, Angela Marlow, had a much different opinion.

“I don’t have insurance, so I probably wouldn’t go. And then if I did go, I wouldn’t believe the results, one way or the other. I just don’t believe in the numbers. I think they’re exaggerating the numbers. Everything is COVID, COVID, COVID, regardless of whether or not it’s COVID.”

Regardless of the varying opinions, Green stressed the idea that if anyone is in need of healthcare, a hospital should still be high on the list of where to go.

“It all comes down to how you feel. If you feel you need to go to the emergency room, that’s where you need to be.”

For those who may be anxious about catching COVID-19 while getting treatment, Green says that his healthcare group (and presumably, others) are following mask and social distancing guidelines, and doing lots of extra cleaning.

“The last thing we want is for you to come to the hospital and get sick," said Green.

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*Correction: WGXA previously stated that Taylor Healthcare Group was located in Taylor County. It is actually located in Pulaski County.

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