By Mynecia D. Steele
Greene County Residential Care Center residents socialize as they enjoy a balanced meal prepared by the cafeteria staff.
The Greene County Health System (GCHS) believes in reaching out to the community, says CEO, Elmore Patterson. “We are encouraging people to come to the Greene County Health System through campaigns, billboards, posters and our website,” Patterson stated.
GCHS hosts free semi-annual health fairs. These fairs are held with the intention of educating the public on health information, benefits and services that are available to them. These events are open to all, Greene County and surrounding communities alike.
Monthly health screenings are also provided throughout the county along with diabetes classes. Many Greene County residents suffer with high blood pressure and diabetes.
Town Hall meetings are held on a quarterly bases sponsored by the Greene County Health System. These meetings allow the community to voice their opinions and bring any concerns or thoughts to the attention of the GCHS.
Patterson shared that the Greene County Health System also started the “I am Greene because . . .” campaign to give the community a chance to show their support for the health system. One poster features Thom Smith, who says, “I am Greene because GCH saved me from a massive stroke.”
Last year, the GCHS hosted A Day of Service in Branch Heights. As a result of this service project, every child in the Branch Heights community received eye checks and general physicals before the start of the school term.
GCHS also provides meals to the elderly every November.
The Greene County Health System hopes to make its mark on Greene County. It strives to continue working with the community and informing them about health care and health disparities affecting African Americans in most rural areas.
GCHS provides the only hospital in Greene County, therefore, it becomes the safety net hospital, said Patterson. This means that the GCHS must provide care for people who have no money, or limited resources. Many Greene County citizens do not have healthcare. The GCHS must provide for them with no profit in return.
“The county’s health status is lacking because the state of Alabama did not expand Medicaid,” Patterson said. “We care for about 1.2 million dollars of uncompensated healthcare. The community must work together to help with those uncompensated people,” said Patterson.
He expressed appreciation to Greenetrack, Inc. and the sheriff’s department for the help they have provided recently.
The Greene County Health System is directing more people into its primary care. By visiting a primary care center, patients have the opportunity to build a relationship with a care provider whom they can follow up with regularly.
Patients who visit primary care are also more likely to take their medication, and less likely to come into the emergency room for non-emergency services.
The Greene County Health System plans to expand by setting up a primary care clinic in Boligee.
Many people don’t realize that the Greene County Hospital is the closest emergency room in the West corridor of Alabama on I-20, which leads into Mississippi. Therefore, the Greene County Health System cares for many motor vehicle accident victims.
If outside people are willing to put their lives in the hands of the Greene County Health System, GCHS team hopes that the citizens of Greene County will also give them a chance.
“The only way you’re going to know if its good or bad, is trying it.” Patterson said. “Trying it for yourself; not going off of a rumor. We have to get past that. GCHS is ours. We should use the facilities and support them as well,” he emphasized.