When Sen. Raphael Warnock visited Augusta and Fort Gordon Monday, he also stopped at the Georgia Cyber Center to learn more about Augusta University’s efforts to provide quality health care to low-income, rural and underserved Georgians across the state.
Augusta University Health leadership offered presentations on several initiatives. Katrina Keefer, CEO of AU Health, described AU’s mass vaccination efforts in Augusta and surrounding rural and underserved areas through permanent and pop-up sites, as well as initiatives to address and reduce vaccine hesitancy. She also touched on the new AirCare program, which will allow for rapid transport from anywhere in the state with a dedicated clinical crew and life-saving equipment on board.
Dr. David Hess, dean of the Medical College of Georgia, outlined how the MCG 3+ accelerated curriculum will address the physician shortage in underserved areas by allowing doctors to complete their medical education in three years and immediately begin a primary care residency in an underserved area.
Dr. Matt Lyon, medical director of Virtual Care and professor of medicine at the Medical College of Georgia, demonstrated how physicians and hospitals across the state can tap into the expertise at AU through telehealth to treat patients in rural hospitals, improving care in rural areas and reducing the need to transport them to Augusta.
After the presentations, Warnock and guests toured the Cyber Center, and then the senator took a few moments to sit down one-on-one with rising third-year medical student Shahar Laks. She is passionate about maternal mortality and during her research learned that Warnock sponsored the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021, designed to improve maternal mortality rates by addressing racial disparities for maternal health care.
Laks said the senator told her that he believes increasing the number of black doctors will help to reduce disparity.
She planned to include her interview with Warnock in a presentation to first-year medical students the following day.
At the conclusion of his visit, Warnock said he had heard about Augusta University’s work, but hearing about it and seeing it in person are two different things.
“I’m very impressed with the amount of collaboration that’s happening here at the Georgia Cyber Center, the collaborative partnerships addressing issues on so many levels,” he said. “This is a great resource and I’m very proud that it’s right here in Georgia, and I will do everything I can to make sure that we continue to have the kind of resources that we need to ensure the future.”