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Gov. Brian Kemp dispatched National Guard troops to Cuthbert to help with a health emergency in that small southwest Georgia community.

CUTHBERT — State House District 151 Rep. Gerald Greene requested assistance from Gov. Brian Kemp to help with the Cuthbert hospital and nursing home. Greene was notified of an emergency situation at the hospital and nursing home on Friday by Scott Steiner, CEO of the Albany-based Phoebe Putney Health System.

Greene and officials that included Kemp, Public Health officials in Atlanta, the National Guard, Homeland Security, Phoebe officials and Cuthbert Mayor Steve Whatley were able to meet the crisis quickly. Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center in Cuthbert is currently on diversion for inpatient admissions and ambulance traffic due to available staffing. Five patients in the hospital were transferred to Phoebe in Albany on Friday.

“The emergency center at SGRMC remains operational in order to stabilize and treat on an outpatient basis,” Kim Gilman, the Cuthbert hospital’s Chief Executive Officer, said in a news release. “Temporarily, anyone who needs to be admitted will be transferred to another appropriate hospital.”

Phoebe has provided emergency staffing, supplies and COVID-19 testing for SGRMC and the adjacent Joe-Anne Burgin Nursing Home to assist the facilities during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Late Friday, Phoebe provided rapid COVID-19 tests for all residents at the nursing home after a few began showing symptoms.

“Early this morning, we received a number of positive results of asymptomatic residents and immediately worked to relocate those testing negative to another part of the facility,” Gilman said. “To ensure the safety of our staff members and residents, we have a special unit from the National Guard onsite to clean and disinfect the entire facility.”

With several employees unable to work while they self-isolate at home, staffing became a critical issue.

“We don’t have a large staff, so even losing a few team members has a major impact on our operations,” Gilman said. “Thankfully, Phoebe has stepped in to ensure we have physicians in our emergency center and appropriate nursing coverage for the nursing home.”

Greene thanked Kemp and state and regional officials for their assistance.

“I want to publicly thank Gov. Kemp for his quick response to our citizens,” the state representative said. “I have worked with many governors during a crisis situation, but Gov. Kemp is focused on the plight of our area and state and is providing strong leadership under intense pressure from the emergency crisis. I also want to thank Scott Steiner at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital for his leadership and vital help in putting forth a plan by Saturday. The well-being of our Citizens is always foremost in any emergency environment.”

As a reminder, visitation restrictions remain in place at Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center and the Joe-Anne Burgin Nursing Home to protect residents and their families.

“The health and safety of our residents and staff is our top priority,” Gilman said. “Therefore, during this unprecedented time, we are taking extra precautions such as suspending visitation (with certain exceptions for end-of-life care), cleaning/disinfecting surfaces multiple times a day, and following all proper isolation protocols. We are in daily communication with the Georgia Department of Public Health and continue to carefully monitor both DPH and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines as they are updated.”

While Phoebe does not own either facility, the hospital has an agreement with the Randolph County Hospital Authority to help manage the hospital and nursing home facilities in Cuthbert.

For updated information on COVID-19, visit www.phoebehealth.com/coronavirus and www.cdc.gov.

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