Catalyst - Fall 2020 Vol 3 No 1 | Page 18

An Interview The Two Georgias Initiative Participants: Chambreé Harris and Annie Ingram Hancock Health Improvement Partnership Hancock County was in the news for a larger outbreak that occurred – what was that like? Being at the epicenter of a COVID-19 outbreak? CH: It was eye-opening, to say the least. It was a lesson learned for our health district and maybe even state DPH. Even before we started making moves two weeks beforehand, we were hinting that they may would want to take a different route with notifying the people about what was going on. Things were moving slow until we started to make headlines! Since then, they did a direct mail campaign that informed local citizens about weekly testing at the local health department; most did not know that the health department was doing testing one day a week (now two). It was just an eye-opening experience for people to be more transparent about what’s going on. Along those same lines, being in a more rural area, do you have any specific observations (like the roll out of testing) of what it’s been like on that rural level? CH: In addition to program coordinator role, I take calls from the COVID-19 hotline in our public health district. I got a lot of calls from people in Hancock, and the biggest issue for them was having transportation to come and get testing -- back in April and May, Hancock was only testing one day a week. That was a big issue, because maybe a certain person was only getting tested for that one day. It was hard for them to make a schedule to come and get tested. Of course, the Broadband and the Internet problem prolonged a lot of things. I know up until the news articles and things started to come out, that’s when our public health district decided to do a direct mail piece about COVID-19 testing at the health department. That’s how a lot of people found out, because they’re not on Facebook and the public health district website every day looking at availability to know about testing. That was one thing that came out of it and has progressed into Hancock doing testing twice a week now. Did DPH in that area use telemedicine or telehealth in any way? CH: Telemedicine and telehealth are not really happening on in the health department, but we are working on that piece, because broadband is an issue and it’s a very big issue at the health department because of the location. But we are in contact with the Georgia Rural Health Association associated with Mercer University down in Macon and the field representative for Hancock County is sending us tools/contacts to get us partnered with telemedicine and telehealth resources to help throughout the area. Not much has been done right now with the Broadband issues, but we’re working on it. 18