A saying goes, “Health is wealth,” which means the state of well-being is considered the most valuable part of life. However, there are instances where health is compromised, medical care is required, and access to a healthcare facility is a must. In these instances, could you imagine not having access to a hospital? This would mean that every disease, every minor accident, or emergency could become fatal. This is the reality of a tiny town of Sparta, GA, where nine rural hospitals have closed since 2000, leaving the nearest hospital 90 minutes away. City Council Candidate Prince Rav Yisrael understands that healthcare is vital to financial prosperity to bring the county back to its prosperous days. “Having adequate emergency healthcare isn’t a political issue. It’s just common sense,” he explained.
Once a fancy town with lots of antebellum mansions, Sparta, GA, was a thriving community based on the textile industry, but when the textile companies moved to Mexico, the county’s economy took a nosedive. The fall in the rural economy soon led to the closure of rural hospitals in Sparta, and the first to shut down was Hancock Memorial Hospital in 2001. Established in 1968, Hancock Memorial Hospital was a 52-bed hospital that once included an emergency room and intensive care unit with 150 health care staff members. However, a few years after opening its doors, the hospital was plunged into financial trouble due to a corruption scandal and closed in 1974. To make health care available again, community leaders formed the Hospital Corp., a nonprofit organization that would lease the hospital from the Hancock County Authority and manage daily operations. For a while, the plan worked perfectly, and the hospital soon reopened in Spring 1985.
By the early 1990s, Hancock Memorial was again neck-deep in financial strife, and the threat of closing again loomed overhead as the hospital was close to $1 million in debt. They then looked to the county commission for immediate assistance. However, despite intervention by the county commission, the hospital finally closed in 2001 with the final nail in the coffin being cut from Medicaid funding. With no county hospital and the nearest one being 90 minutes away, Sparta is plunged into a perpetual state of underdevelopment as other industrial employers will not come to Hancock due to the high cost of health insurance. Furthermore, with no functioning local hospital, the county’s heart attack death rate rose to 40 percent despite officials’ attempt to create a more cost-effective clinic.
Understanding that the hospital is not specifically a city issue but a county-wide issue that has to be brought about by the County Commissioners and the Hospital Authority Board. City Council Candidate Prince Rav Yisrael has been working tirelessly to make connections to help the community. While working on one of those connections, he met Johnny Pressley, a hospital owner in Tennessee working on another venture. Sharing his vision with Mr. Pressley, Prince Rav asked him to help bring the vision of having a functioning hospital to fruition, and he eagerly obliged. As a result, Prince Rav Yisrael has set the ball toward having an urgent care facility with a 24/7 emergency room in motion. “Mayor Haywood is trying to put me in contact with the County Commissioners. I’ve spoken to a few members of the Hospital Authority Board and a potential funding source and brought John Pressley to the table,” he shared.
To learn more about Prince Rav Yisrael and his plans on establishing a functioning rural hospital, visit his Facebook page.