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South Georgia Medical Center medical residency program aims to improve rural Georgia's access to healthcare

Posted at 7:24 PM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 19:24:25-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Rebound Georgia is focusing on the people in our community stepping up to help one another during the pandemic.

In south Georgia, a new residency program aims to help the community Rebound by giving them access to a higher level of healthcare.

South Georgia Medical Center and Mercer School of Medicine are on a mission to improve access to healthcare throughout rural Georgia.

That's why they're partnering to train physicians in their new residency program at South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta. A program, they say, will provide a higher level of care for local patients.

"This is not just for residents from the state of Georgia," said Dr. Brian Dawson, the chief medical officer at SGMC. "This will be for residents who have graduated as physicians from all over the country."

"We think it's an advantage to Georgia to have residents in communities where they see the importance of having a physician presence in a rural area, and quality physicians," said Dr. Jean Sumner, the dean at Mercer Univ. School of Medicine.

Starting in 2022, the program will provide residents with an additional level of specialty training in emergency medicine and internal medicine.

Dawson says 60 percent of graduates end up staying within 100 miles of where they compete their residency training.

"We are planting the seeds," Dawson said. "This is an investment in the healthcare of our community."

For the residents, he says it's about building relationships, getting to know people, and becoming part of the community.

"We're excited that our students will have the chance to see good doctors practicing community-responsive medicine and healthcare," said Sumner.

"We are going to invest this time, effort and resources now so we have physicians who can serve our community later," Dawson said.

It's an investment in people, their health and what it takes to Rebound.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise Dawson says SGMC is prepared and has adequate staff who are specifically trained to address the nuances of the virus, and that they have enough PPE to last six months with a full capacity of patients.