Thursday, July 23, 2020

Rural residents, worrying about pandemic, may be more hesitant than urbanites to go to hospitals

A hospital chain CEO in Georgia says he and other rural health care professionals are worried that rural residents are so concerned about the pandemic that they may not be seeking medical care when necessary, Ashton Packer reports for WGXA-TV in Macon, Georgia.

Jonathan Green, CEO of Taylor Healthcare Group, told Packer that hospitals stopped providing non-essential services in the early days of the pandemic to reduce the spread of the virus, but thinks that may have scared some into believing that hospitals were no longer a safe place to go for treatment.

Green also believes that rural residents may be less likely to seek treatment because many live at least half an hour from the nearest hospital. But fear of the coronavirus itself may be the main culprit, he told Packer: "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."

Juliette, Ga. (Wikipedia map)
In Juliette, an unincorporated community just north of Macon where the popular movie Fried Green Tomatoes was filmed, residents said they feel conflicted about whether to go to a hospital (the nearest one is about 20 minutes away). "I don’t have insurance, so I probably wouldn’t go," Juliette resident Angela Marlow told Packer. "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.”

Green stressed that his and other hospitals are observing masking, social distancing, and extra cleaning procedures to reduce the spread of the virus, and told Packer "The last thing we want is for you to come to the hospital and get sick."

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