Better health for Georgia’s rural communities is our responsibility

Photo courtesy of GA-Kayaker.

The following email was distributed to Augusta University staff on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. 

Dear Colleagues,

As the state’s only public academic medical center, we are committed to the health of all Georgians, no matter where they live. That statewide commitment is evidenced in the patients we treat, the education we provide and the research solutions we develop.

In spite of our efforts, the health of our rural communities continues to decline. More than eight of Georgia’s rural hospitals have closed since 2001, half within the past three years, and approximately 1.8 million Georgians are now at a greater risk of negative health and economic hardship due to the loss of local acute-care services in rural communities.

I convened a task force in January to identify the problems that threaten the survival of our rural hospitals and develop recommendations for how Augusta University can contribute to their sustainability.

The committee published its recommendations in a report presented to elected officials this fall. Primary recommendations included the establishment of a Center of Rural Health at Augusta University, policy reform, and enhanced education and training programs.

Dr. William P. Kanto Jr., committee chair and vice president for clinical outreach, has taken the lead on implementing the committee’s recommendations. His first step will be the creation of the Center for Rural Health Support and Study to support statewide coordination of clinical and educational outreach, as well as multidisciplinary research.

I am confident we will soon have a structure in place to help meet the health needs of our entire state, but there is still much to do. We will need the support and expertise of our faculty and staff to be successful.

I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the full report and our institutional service priorities. If you have additional questions about our rural health initiative, please contact Dr. Kanto at 706-721-7349 or

I appreciate your continued support.

Brooks A. Keel, PhD
President, Augusta University
CEO, Augusta University Health System

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Written by
Nick Garrett

Nick Garrett is a communications coordinator in the Division of Communications & Marketing at Augusta University. Contact him at 706-446-4802 or

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Written by Nick Garrett

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