Georgia South to Participate in National Conference

MOULTRIE, Ga. – Colquitt Regional Medical Center’s Georgia South Psychiatry Residency Program will participate in the 2021 National Rural Health Association (NRHA) Annual Conference. This is the nation’s largest rural health conference, created for those with an interest in rural health care, including rural health practitioners, hospital administration, clinic directors, state and federal health employees, and more.

Georgia South Psychiatry was one of four residency programs nationally that the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) chose to feature during its portion of the conference. The program was selected to present because of its commitment to furthering rural graduate medical education and improving access to mental and behavioral health services.

Presenting at the conference will be Kristoff Cohran, Georgia South Psychiatry Residency Program Coordinator and Colquitt Regional HRSA Grant Project Manager. The presentation, titled “Don’t Wait on the Cavalry: Solving Rural Problems Locally,” will take conference participants through the journey of beginning a psychiatry residency program and explain the benefits of the program along with why it is significant for the region and state.

“Georgia is currently ranked 47th in the US in access to mental health care,” said Colquitt Regional President and CEO Jim Matney. “South Georgia, in particular, is severely limited when it comes to physicians specializing in mental health care. In establishing this program, we are not only acknowledging that there is a problem, but we are creating a solution.”

Georgia South received a $750,000 grant from HRSA in 2019 that will be distributed over a three-year period. These funds are supporting the development of an accredited psychiatry residency program in Southwest Georgia. Colquitt Regional was the only institution in Georgia to receive the award.

This grant is part of a larger $20 million multi-year initiative by HRSA to expand the physician workforce in rural areas by developing new, sustainable residency programs in family medicine, internal medicine and psychiatry. Award recipients included rural hospitals, community health centers, health centers operated by the Indian Health Service, Indian tribes or tribal organizations and schools of medicine.

The presentation will inform participants on how Georgia South has built its infrastructure and addressed some of the obstacles facing new residency programs. To date, the HRSA funding has allowed Georgia South to hire six core faculty members and a program director. The program has also been able to form strategic partnerships throughout South Georgia with academic, community, and clinical entities.

“Our first residency program, Georgia South Family Medicine, was formed with a plan to expand into other specialties,” said Hospital Authority Chairman Maureen A. Yearta. “Increasing access to behavioral and mental health services is a top priority for our region, so psychiatry became our next focus once the family medicine residency was established. It is an honor to be selected to share our vision with conference participants and update them on the progress we are making.”

The conference will be held virtually on May 4-7. For more information, please contact Kristoff Cohran at kcohran@colquittregional.com.