The vote by members of the Tattnall County Health Board on June 7 to close the Glennville location of the health department is highly questionable. (See story on page 1 of this week’s June 23 edition.) A full board was not present, with two of the three absent members were from Glennville. For such a monumental decision that affects the accessibility of health care in the south end of the county, a full board should have been present. If not possible, the vote should have been delayed until all could attend.
Secondly, if the numbers are studied, the number of those served is similar between the two locations. The Reidsville location serves Reidsville, but also Collins and Cobbtown. Yet, many of those living in Collins and Cobbtown use the health department location in Metter due to the proximity to their homes. The Glennville location serves those in Glennville and also residents in the Mendes, Tison, Matlock, and Gooseneck areas.
Instead of closing the Glennville location, as was recommended, the Reidsville office could be open three days and the Glennville open two days each week, or the Glennville office open three days and the Reidsville office two days a week. This flip-flop of days seemed to continue to provide services during the pandemic, so why is it not feasible now?
Most of those who usually utilize the services of the health department locations in Tattnall are those in the lower economic spectrum and often do not have reliable transportation to travel the approximate 25-minute drive from Glennville to Reidsville. The nurses and other staff have already been accustomed to the flip-flop of days at the locations of Glennville and Reidsville. These are also state employees with good salaries, while many of those served by the health department cannot afford the cost of travel to another location, and especially now when gas prices are so high along with food and other necessities.
Mention was made at the Board of Health meeting that the department has been searching for two nurses since April of 2021. However, no ads to fill these nurse vacancies have been placed in The Journal Sentinel, the county’s only newspaper and the legal organ of the county. The newspaper staff were not even aware of this nurse shortage.
The Journal Sentinel receives an agenda several days in advance for the Glennville City Council meeting and the Tattnall Board of Education, along with supporting documents. When a staff member attends the County Commissioners’ meeting, which is advertised the week before the meeting in the newspaper, an agenda and a full packet of documents is provided to the press. The same should be done for the quarterly Tattnall County Board of Health meetings. The newspaper should be notified of the date, time, and place and be provided with an agenda.
Statistics can be twisted and turned to rationalize whatever agenda is being pushed by various organizations, and the services to the citizens, especially when it comes to medical services, should be a priority. Hasn’t COVID at least taught that to our officials!
Although the Board of Health was quick to cite financial numbers for closing Glennville’s health department location, no one asked about the cost of the improvements needed to renovate the Reidsville location. It was however, stated, that Glennville’s lab and rooms were more efficiently arranged than in the Reidsville office.
Hopefully, on Monday, July 11, at 9 a.m. when the Tattnall County Commissioners consider the recommendation of the Tattnall Health Board, they will realize that this is not a “political” decision, but one that affects the access to health care for our citizens throughout the county and not just in one area.