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Introducing Barbara Joy Jones, DO from GMC Primary Care & Specialty Center



In this episode of Peachtree Corners Life, Rico chats with Dr. Barbara Joy Jones, D.O. She is the lead physician at the new GMC Primary Care & Specialty Center. Barbara gives some insight into the field of medicine, diving into the similarities and differences of being a doctor of osteopathy versus doctor of medicine, the timeshare structure of their multi-specialty clinic, and the growing use of CBD in medicine. She also shares her personal journey into medicine, and we learn about how she went from pursuing a career in modeling to becoming a doctor.

“When I was younger – so my name is Barbara, and I have an Aunt Barbara who we call Aunt Babs, and my grandma was named Barbara as well. When I was younger, I used to give my grandma massages, and she told me, ‘You have healing hands.’ And at the time, I didn’t understand what that meant. I didn’t understand at the time. But it seemed as other doors were closed, path to medicine was open. It didn’t have its obstacles, but I got into medical school, I passed all the boards and I just – I had a heart for healing. And the gift of mercy. So I was – it was always important. And I really enjoyed people’s stories.”

Dr. Barbara Joy Jones, D.O.


Phone: 678-312-8430

Barbara Joy Jones:
Facebook: Dr. Barbara Joy Jones
Instagram: @themodeldoc

Transcript of the podcast:

Rico [01:18 ]: Hi everyone, this is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners life, and also the publisher of Peachtree Corners Magazine. We’re here with a special guest today. Her is Dr. Barbara Joy Jones, DO. And she is with the GMC Primary Care Provider that just opened. They took over – for those people in Peachtree Corners who know well, it used to be the old Ippolito’s restaurant. You would never know. I mean, they gutted out the whole thing, and it looks beautiful inside. We’ll show you some pictures later. But I’d like you to introduce yourself a little bit to the listeners, the audience here. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Barbara [01:53 ]: Hello everybody, I am Dr. Barbara Joy Jones, thank you Rico for the introduction, and I am the lead physician at Primary Care and Multi-specialty Clinic in Peachtree Corners. We used to be Gwinnett Medical Center, and now we are Northside. This is day 2 of officially being Northside. And I am the lead physician, and I’m primary care, which means I’m diapers to depends, and I’m there five days a week. And then we have timeshares of specials that work on the other side. So we have gastroenterology, OBGYN, orthopedics, I think we’re bringing in neurology. And cardiology.

Rico [02:31 ]: That’s amazing. When I first visited, they had the great opening and, we walked through there, I found out there were time-sharing specialists? I didn’t realize that’s how some of these practices work. So they can be quite a few specialties, specialists, and you don’t have to leave the primary care facility.

Barbara [02:54 ]: Yeah, there’s been examples of a person who had a heart condition, very common atrial fibrillation, needed a heart check up. I finished my exam and walked them across the hall to the cardiologist. Easy.

Rico [03:05 ]: Okay, look at that. You don’t have to go out 30 minutes to somewhere else or make another appointment or something. Really great place. Tell us a little bit about you personally, too. Where you come from, who you are, a little bit about yourself.

Barbara [03:18 ]: Gotcha. So I am a military brat – Air Force. My father was in the air force, and I was born at West Point. Mother’s from Thailand. And I have three siblings – parents had four kids in five years. And I played basketball at Charleston Southern University in the Big South. So after three years, I told my dad – “Hey, I want to model and act,” so he sent me up to Los Angeles. And I failed at that. Door closed right away. So I was like, “Okay, well at least I tried.” And I went and finished my degree at Loyola Marymount University. So spent two years out there finishing my degree. And then moved back to Georgia, applied to medical school, and got into medical school in Gwinnett at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine at Georgia campus, which has been open since 2005. And then, I renewed my lease to my apartment when I got accepted to Gwinnett Medical Center’s residency program for family medicine, and I was one of the five guinea pigs. The first five, and we were all women, and now there’s 61 residents on the campus, and two sports medicine fellows.

Rico [04:27 ]: So you live in Gwinnett County.

Barbara [04:29 ]: I do. I live in Duluth. I love Gwinnett. If I could be here lifelong, I would. And one thing I wanted to clarify – I have a DO behind my name. So the difference between a DO and MD is, there are a million fully-functioning physicians in the county, meaning can perform surgery, can deliver babies, can prescribe narcotics and Benzodiazepine. 108 thousand of us are DOs. So that means, in medical school, we learn manual manipulations. So 400 hours of something that I personally said is basically like chiropractic massage therapy and physical therapy all in one, as a physician. And we just augment care. So, an example would be, if a child comes in with an ear infection, if it’s bacterial infection, I would give the antibiotic, but I also have a way of manipulating trying to decrease the pressure and some of the pain by draining some of the fluid out of the eustachian tube, and that decrease of pressure actually helps the child feel better. And also helps the parents feel better cause their kid stops crying. So I am a DO, and starting in 2020, DOs and MDs will have one accreditation. Meaning one match process. We all train side by side currently. But in the future, in 2020, it would be one match.

Rico [05:50 ]: So other than surgery, or, not surgery – if you compare yourself to a general practitioner, let’s say, for lack of a better phrase, what are the differences then?

Barbara [06:02 ]: Well, okay. So 56% of DOs go into primary care, which consists of internal medicine, family medicine, and peds. The others go into whatever they choose. Cardiology, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, and they never use their hands ever again. They just practice like an MD.

Rico [06:21 ]: So you’re along the same lines as an internist to a degree? Or, there’s other – 

Barbara [06:25 ]: Well, MDs and DOs are fully functioning physicians and can go to any residency. We are just trained, the mind and the body, you know – you just catalyze that the body will heal itself. Just a more holistic thought process. But we can practice in any form of medicine.

Rico [06:45 ]: So how long has this – I mean, there’s a trend on doing this, right? G – Gwinnett Medical – you know, it has expanded, and there’s quite a few facilities in Gwinnett County. I know there was none on this side of the county, and that’s why GMC opened over here. Are all the facilities similar to that degree, with DOs and such?

Barbara [07:09 ]: DOs can practice just like MDs. You’ve probably been treated or done surgery with a DO. You just don’t know unless you look behind their name. We practice the same. It’s just that, a lot of us, more than half, choose to go into primary care. We just have the heart for primary care.

Rico [07:27 ]: So how long have you been doing this now?

Barbara [07:30 ]: Um, graduated from medical school in 2014, graduated from residency 2017. So I’m entering my third year of attendinghood. Being an attending physician. I practice on my own.

Rico [07:40 ]: So do you learn a lot more with, I mean, obviously the amount of residents has expanded there. I mean, is it your colleagues – do you get together? Do you talk about things going on in medicine and community?

Barbara [07:54 ]: Well, I am an attending. I actually teach the residents. So because I am proficient in osteopathic, manipulative treatment, which is that manual manipulation, and half of the residents in the family of medicine are MD and half are DO. The DOs currently need to have a certain amount of osteopathic, manipulative treatment training. So I teach them that. So what we – yeah. I teach them as an attending. So I get to see them once a week – it’s Wednesdays. And other than that, we do have CMEs. So physicians are required to do a certain amount of learning new things in medicine to stay up on the times.

Rico [08:34 ]: So if people come to the – this side here on Peachtree Corners, then they’re gonna see you on a regular basis. You’re out there regularly. You’re the lead, obviously.

Barbara [08:44 ]: Yes, I’m the lead physician, so I see diapers to depends. I do pap smears, I work on mammograms, I do prostate exams, I do child vaccinations, child wellness exams, annuals, preventative exams, acute visits if you have sinusitis, gastroenteritis, diarrhea, I got you. Sprained your ankle, I got you. Possibly pneumonia, I got you. We have a chest x-ray machine.

Rico [09:09 ]: Yeah, you don’t have to go far. You don’t have to leave the city of Peachtree Corners. And it’s an interesting city because, for as much as is 44,000 odd people that live in the city, there’s 87% of the people that work in the city don’t actually live in the city. They leave the city, go back home to wherever they go. So, I mean, corporate health, does that reach to what you want to say?

Barbara [09:35 ]: Yes. That was part of the model. So, I don’t know about Northside, but for Gwinnett Medical Center, and we just became Northside yesterday, we had one facility in Sewanee that was a multi-specialty clinic that was successful. So they modeled my clinic, which opened on August 5th, after that. Where you have primary care there, and then you have five or six different other specialties that time share during the week.

Rico [09:59 ]: Right. And corporate health – 

Barbara [10:00 ]: Yes. That is part of it. So the hospital is working on corporate health where people would be able to come in and get their physicals done with me.

Rico [10:11 ]: You know, you’ve been a lot of different things, which is cool. It’s a well rounded person that you are by doing that. What I’d like to ask you is, what brought you – what got you to pursue the medical part of it? The medicine part? I mean, you were acting, modeling a bit. What turned you onto medicine?

Barbara [10:36 ]: When I was younger – so my name is Barbara, and I have an Aunt Barbara who we call Aunt Babs, and my grandma was named Barbara as well. When I was younger, I used to give my grandma massages, and she told me, ‘You have healing hands.’ And at the time, I didn’t understand what that meant. I didn’t understand at the time. But it seemed as other doors were closed, path to medicine was open. It didn’t have its obstacles, but I got into medical school, I passed all the boards and I just – I had a heart for healing. And the gift of mercy. So I was – it was always important. And I really enjoyed people’s stories.

Rico [11:13 ]: You know, that’s interesting. It almost seems like you were guided that way without even realizing.

Barbara [11:18 ]: Right. So people ask – was there a time? I can’t remember just an epiphany – oh you’re supposed to be a doctor. It was like, the path was paved, and it was a little bit easier – and not easier, but just directed in this path where everything else, the doors were closed immediately in my face.

Rico [11:34 ]: You know, it’s funny because Malcom Gladwell – he wrote several books about leadership and stuff, and one of the things he mentions is, you need the little nudges, not things – that huge that comes across. It’s always those little nudges, the right people that talk to you at the right moment, that get you sort of moving along that path over a period of time. So that’s kind of nice to be able to see that. So the professional journey so far that you’ve experienced. Do you have any anecdotes that you want to share about, you know, getting into it, what stories you may have on it?

Barbara [12:13 ]: Well, I guess more so, like, testimony of when I got into med school, there were only two spots left, and I got one of them. So I almost didn’t even get into that class.

Rico [12:22 ]: So that was the Philadelphia – 

Barbara [12:24 ]: The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Georgia Campus. It’s in Sewanee, off of Peachtree Road. Take 85 N and take 109. Go right.

Rico [12:31 ]: You know it well.

Barbara [12:33 ]: Yes. But having – but getting in – that was, I was very thankful. Because with as much work as it took, I was very thankful that I had the capacity, the intelligence, and the wherewithal and the health to go through it. Cause it’s very stressful. And then even in residency, having had difficulties there with certain subjects, I would have trouble learning, but the residency did a very good job of giving me opportunities to go above and beyond to learn. So those obstacles, and to make it through, and by the end of residency in 2017, I was named resident of the year. So overcoming those obstacles and using that as a platform to become great in my field.

Rico [13:21 ]: I mean, determined too. Because lots of young people would drop out, or maybe chemistry’s not their thing, maybe biology, maybe whatever they’re learning could be tough. And they find out it’s not for them.

Barbara [13:37 ]: The cliche. It could have made me or it could break me.

Rico [13:40 ]: Exactly. That you go in there like that. So the role that we discussed for a little bit. So what excites you and motivates you when you, you know, your day off? Do you think about medicine all the time?

Barbara [13:56 ]: No. When I go home, I have a lot of really good friends and family, so I enjoy spending time with them. So that would include having love and fellowship over a nice meal. I play basketball, so there is a league in perimeter. I play D1 Georgia Sports League. And sometimes I’ll join one of the seasons and play basketball with girls who were active in college or overseas and want to stay active in their 30s and 40s, so I enjoy that. What else?

Rico [14:27 ]: That’s good. And you’re a doctor, so you can always see if you’re not feeling well or stress in your bones.

Barbara [14:33 ]: And I enjoy traveling as well. Whether it be out of town or just staycation just to enjoy different parts of Atlanta.

Rico [14:40 ]: Have you been to places where you might have, I mean, I’m sure on vacation you don’t go visit medical facilities, but being in the industry and stuff, do you see anything in other cities, other places, other countries that you may have visited, where you might look at that and say –

Barbara [15:00 ]: Anytime I go overseas and come home, I’m always very thankful for our healthcare system. I just think like that.

Rico [15:06 ]: Alright. With the emerging technology and research, and the techniques that are out there, are you excited about anything particular out there in the future that’s coming that you see? On the horizon maybe?

Barbara [15:21 ]: The one thing that comes to mind is CBD oil. That’s a new thing. 

Rico [15:27 ]: Yes, now, okay. Some one I know would like to use it, and but she’s not feeling that maybe would help that. So how would that work? Is that something that you even can recommend in your practice?

Barbara [15:43 ]: It is legal in all 50 states. So you don’t – we’ll prefer someone who is knowledgeable to tell you how to start to take it as a supplement. It is legal – you do not need a prescription, but it is legal in all 50 states.

Rico [15:59 ]: So is that something you would recommend to someone? If you felt they needed it?

Barbara [16:03 ]: If someone has pain or trouble sleeping and relaxation, they’re looking for that, yes, I do recommend it for pain, relaxation, and sleep. We do have endocannabinoid receptors in our body, so there’s a place for them to go. And, just like, say somebody is vitamin D deficient, they would take a vitamin D supplement. If you’re deficient in endocannabinoids, you would take it as a supplement.

Rico [16:31 ]: Do you find that it helps – I mean, some people I would imagine just like pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals, when they come out, maybe 50, 80% of the people that take it, it helps. And maybe the other 20, 30 it doesn’t, because that’s just the way things are.

Barbara [16:45 ]: Well, if your issue – it could be possibly due to endocannabinoid deficiency – the top 4 things that it would be would be migraines, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, refractory to treatment, and irritable bowel syndrome. A lot of times, those patients really would do well with it. Also, cancer patients dealing with pain – it’s always good for them to take it as an option. But there’s rules to it. You want to make sure it’s bought in the USA. Made and bought in the USA. Organic, and in full spectrum without the THC, because, you know, the THC portion is psychoactive, and we’re not trying to do that. We’re just trying to get the benefits of the endocannabinoids.

Rico [17:26 ]: That’s right, that’s right. The legal part anyway doesn’t have any of that. Or at least that’s the smallest percent anyway.

Barbara [17:32 ]: Well if it’s full spectrum, and you don’t want the active THC, it’s gonna have a 0.0002 or 3 percent. But yeah. It’ll have a tiny, tiny bit, but not enough that it will cause any psychoactive effects.

Rico [17:48 ]: I’m sure there are people out there that may, I mean there’s so many places that sell it, so you’re correct in saying to investigate what you’re getting.

Barbara [17:57 ]: Yes. You definitely want to investigate where you’re getting it from.

Rico [18:03 ]: Because there’s too many places. Like, even gas stations. I mean, there’s too many places – 

Barbara [18:05 ]: Don’t get it from a gas station. It is worth spending the extra money to make sure it’s USA grown, organic, full spectrum, active THC.

Rico [18:11 ]: I think there is a local pharmacy that sells it. Not a chain pharmacy, a local compound pharmacy that sells it also. So, tell me a little bit more about, just a little bit more about the facilities here in Peachtree Corners, and we’ll share some of those pictures of – and I know you hit upon it before a little bit, but let’s talk about that.

Barbara [18:33 ]: So the facility has a primary care pod, and that’s where I am. And then there also is a physician’s assistant – her name is Molly, and she’s with us on Wednesdays, Thursday mornings and Fridays. And I’m there all five days. And we have our six rooms, beautiful rooms, and it has a spa type feel as soon as you walk in.

Rico [18:54 ]: Hospitality, yes.

Barbara [18:55 ]: Right. So when you come in, there’s also a pod for the specialists. So each morning, each afternoon, you’ll have a different specialist that time shares for that morning or afternoon if you’re there for that. And then for us, when I’m back in our little pod, and if you need a mammogram or xray, we have that capability as well.

Rico [19:15 ]: And I understood from the visit when I went there that the, I guess it’s the mammogram, it’s a 2D and a 3D machine. So for those people that might need a 3D – so what’s the difference between the two? Can you share that as far as 2D, 3D?

Barbara [19:34 ]: From what I know, and I’m not an expert on it, you can see things better because it’s 3D versus 2D. I can talk to a radiologist and I can get back to you.

Rico [19:46 ]: No, you’re good, you’re good. So it’s true, if you have thick tissues and stuff like that, 3D is really the way to go. And it’s interesting that it’s the same machine that’s doing it, so, so it’s there. So, I mean, you know, if I remember taking my in-laws to the doctor sometimes if they had to go get an xray, they had to leave where they went, go somewhere else – this is all in one place.

Barbara [20:13 ]: It’s really convenient. Someone comes in and to rule out pneumonia, we can send them down the hall to get a chest x-ray. And if a woman needs a mammogram, we can send her down the hall. And if at that particular time, the specialist that’s time sharing at the time you need, you can just walk on over. Dr. Tonya Ruttledge is the gastroenterologist, so if someone needs a colonoscopy, we can just take them over to do their consult. And Dr. Donroe is the cardiologist. He’s there on Tuesday afternoons. I’ve walked a couple people down to him as well.

Rico [20:44 ]: So do they do that stuff there as well? Colonoscopy down there also?

Barbara [20:47 ]: No. They have either in the hospital or an endoscopy suite.

Rico [20:53 ]: Right. That makes more sense. And I know they keep telling me, I’m over 50 and I need to do that.

Barbara [20:59 ]: Yes. It’s very important. Colon cancer is preventable with a colonoscopy. You can get the polyps removed.

Rico [21:05 ]: Is there anything you want to share with us a little bit more about the facility or the way GMC – I mean I know Northside took over a couple days ago, and we don’t know yet how that’s gonna affect things, but certainly the GMC, Gwinnett Medical sign is still out front.

Barbara [21:25 ]: Yes, yes, yes. They chose to plant feet here because it was a primary care desert, and we’re here to serve the community. So we are open and you guys should call and get an appointment. 678-312-8430. Come on in.

Rico [21:43 ]: Is there a website also? There’s a website I think, right?

Barbara [21:44 ]: Yes. It’s GwinnettMedicalGroup.org/PTC. But I don’t know if that’s gonna change, if we’ll become a Northside website. So stay tuned.

Rico [21:54 ]: Okay. And I imagine if that changes, they’ll probably forward that URL. 

Barbara [21:57 ]: Yes.

Rico [21:59 ]: So that should be fine.

Barbara [22:01 ]: Mail forwarding to the new website.

Rico [22:01 ]: And if you want to follow – is there any way they can follow you?

Barbara [22:08 ]: So my instagram is @themodeldoc. Yeah. The Model Doc. Very simple. And on Facebook, Dr. Barbara Joy Jones.

Rico [22:20 ]: If you have any more questions that you want to put to the doctor, you can put them in the comments. She’s liked the page, so she’ll get noticed when those comments are made. And if you want to field visit there, like she said, five days a week. Just go make an appointment and you can go out there. This has been Peachtree Corners Life with Dr. Barbara Joy Jones, DO. Appreciate you coming in.

Barbara [22:50 ]: Thank you, I enjoyed it.

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Gwinnett expanding Summer meals program for kids



Gwinnett County Summer Meal Program

Gwinnett County and Gwinnett County Public Schools are teaming up to help ease hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to feed Gwinnett’s children during the summer.

On Friday, May 15, Gwinnett County Public Schools will wrap up the meal service it has provided for the last two months to Gwinnett children 18 years and younger. This service has provided more than 2.2 million meals at 67 school locations and included delivery by school buses within identified clusters. Gwinnett County will fill in when the school district’s program ends by starting its Summer Meals program on Monday, May 18.

Gwinnett County’s program, now in its second year, will expand to add locations and free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches for children 18 years old and younger. Parents can pick up nutritious meals for their children at 18 park locations around the county to take home or the children can pick up their own meals. The meals, which consist of things like sandwiches and wraps, meet USDA guidelines.

“It is the common goal of the Board of the Commissioners and the Board of Education to assist families and make sure children receive nutritious meals during this challenging time,” said Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash. “For some kids, this may be the only meal they get that day. The Board of Commissioners especially want to recognize the school board’s efforts to feed children during the digital learning days just ending and the work they will do when their meals program picks up again in June.”

Locations were selected based on school clusters with 50 percent free-and-reduced-lunch student populations. The Summer Meals program complements a summertime meals program for students offered by Gwinnett County Public Schools. Meals are also available for adults with disabilities. The school district will ramp up its Seamless Summer feeding program for children June 8-26, and will provide school locations once they are finalized.

“This partnership between the school district and the county is a shining example of how Gwinnett County comes together to serve our community,” says CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin

Wilbanks. “Working together, we will be able to bridge the gap and provide food to children while school is not in session over the summer.”

The County program, part of the Summer Food Service Program offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is being sponsored by the nonprofit Georgia Nutritional Services Inc., which will provide the vendor for the meals.

Last year, Summer Meals served about 10,200 lunches at three parks, which was supplemented by a similar county program that served another 6,500 meals to kids at four other County locations. Children ate lunches and snacks on-site but because of social distancing requirements, the USDA is allowing people to take the meals home this year.

Funding for the program comes from the USDA.

Registration is not required. Meals can be picked up between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. while supplies last at:

For more information, visit www.GwinnettSummerMeals.com or call 770-822-8840.

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Gov. Kemp Begins to Open Up Georgia and introduces a Telemedicine App to Help Track Outbreaks



Kemp opening up Georgia

Today Governor Brian P. Kemp provided the following update on COVID-19 in Georgia. Governor Kemp was joined by Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, Speaker David Ralston, Georgia National Guard Adjutant General Tom Carden, Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey, and GEMA/HS Director Homer Bryson.

“Good afternoon, everyone. Today I’m joined by Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, Speaker David Ralston, General Tom Carden, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, and GEMA Director Homer Bryson.

The numbers in Georgia

“As of noon today, we now have 18,947 COVID-19 cases in Georgia with 733 deaths. The state lab has processed 5,362 tests, and commercial vendors have processed 78,966 tests. We understand that these are more than just numbers. These are Georgians. These are families and communities impacted. Our prayers remain with the victims and their loved ones. We lift up those who are battling this terrible virus. We remain focused on the safety and well-being of every person who calls Georgia home.

Federal Guidelines

“Last week, the White House issued guidelines for states to begin to safely reopen our nation’s economy. We appreciate their leadership and share in the president’s desire to reopen the economy and get Americans back to work. As a small business person for over thirty years, I know the impact of this pandemic on hardworking Georgians in every zip code and every community. With heightened supply and limited demand, crops are rotting and farmers are struggling to keep employees on the payroll. Our small business owners are seeing sales plummet, and the company that they built with blood, sweat, and tears disappear right before them. Contract workers are struggling to put food on the table. Our large businesses, which serve as anchors in many Georgia towns, are scaling back operations, leaving some with reduced hours and others with no job. These are tough moments in our state and nation. I hear the concerns of those I am honored to serve. I see the terrible impact of COVID-19 on public health and the pocketbook.

Opening Up America”

“Informed by the Coronavirus Task Force and public health officials, ‘Opening Up America Again’ includes three phases to safely reopen and get folks back to work. To initiate Phase One, a state must meet a series of basic criteria, which can be tailored to reflect specific circumstances for a regional or statewide approach. For weeks now, our state has taken targeted action to prevent, detect, and address the spread of coronavirus by leveraging data and advice from health officials in the public and private sectors. Thanks to this methodical approach and the millions of Georgians who have worked diligently to slow the spread of coronavirus, we are on track to meet the gating criteria for Phase One.

“According to the Department of Public Health, reports of emergency room visits for flu-like illnesses are declining, documented COVID-19 cases have flattened and appear to be declining, and we have seen declining emergency room visits in general. By expanding our hospital bed capacity – including the temporary facility at the Georgia World Congress Center – we have the ability to treat patients without crisis care in hospital settings. Our proactive actions have reduced stress and strain on area hospitals as well as the communities and families that they serve.

Testing and Telemedicine App

“Now, a key component of the gating criteria is testing. For weeks, I have expressed my frustration with the status of testing and committed more resources to expansion. We partnered with the University System of Georgia, partnered with the private sector to offer drive-thru services, and recently empowered public health departments across Georgia to offer testing for all symptomatic individuals. Today we’re taking this effort to the next level by announcing an even broader partnership with the state’s dedicated health sciences university and its health system to double down on our testing capacity and meet the requirements necessary to move forward with the president’s plan.

“As many of you know, Augusta University Health launched a telemedicine app as part of their comprehensive plan to screen, test, and treat Georgia patients through an algorithm designed by experts at the Medical College of Georgia. This app has enhanced public health while reducing exposure for our doctors, nurses, and medical staff. We are encouraging symptomatic Georgians to download the app this week and begin the screening process. Georgians can access the app by visiting AugustaHealth.org or downloading AU Health ExpressCare on your smartphone.

You can also call (706) 721-1852. This free app is user-friendly, and through this app, physicians and advanced practice providers from Augusta University Health and the Medical College of Georgia are available to users twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If you begin to display symptoms consistent with COVID-19 – day or night – you can log onto AU Health’s telemedicine app or call to get screened by a clinician. If you meet criteria for testing, staff will contact you to schedule a test at one of the state’s designated testing locations near your home. Your healthcare information will be securely transmitted to your designated testing site.

“This streamlined process reduces stress on both the patient and testing site workers. Once you arrive for your appointment, you will provide a specimen for testing. From there, we will leverage the power of several key academic institutions in the state to process tests. These include Augusta University, Emory University, Georgia State University, and the Georgia Public Health Lab. In roughly seventy-two hours, you will be able to access your test results via a secure patient portal, and a medical provider will contact you directly if you are positive. The clinician will assist you with enrolling in a self-reporting app by Google named MTX where – with patient consent – the Department of Public Health can use enhanced contact monitoring and tracing.

“Through this partnership, Augusta University will produce testing swabs in the Dental College of Georgia innovation lab. By using the same 3-D printers that have produced face shields for healthcare workers, the innovation lab will create thousands of swabs per day. This capability greatly reduces our dependence on vendors and governmental entities as we boost testing and get Georgians back into the workplace. Under the leadership of President Brooks Keel, CEO Katrina Keefer, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Philip Coule, General Carden, and Dr. Toomey, Augusta University will roll out this app statewide over the course of this week. My office will release more details and timelines soon.

Georgia National Guard Strike Teams

“In addition, the Georgia National Guard will mobilize ten new strike teams to deploy to hotspots and long-term care facilities to administer 1,500 tests per day. Testing expansions through Augusta University and the Guard will complement existing initiatives, including the Department of Public Health’s capacity, Georgia Tech’s CVS testing site, and private labs. As I’ve said before, testing defines the battlefield and informs our long-term strategy. These efforts significantly increase our capacity as we take measured steps forward. Throughout this entire process from creating the Coronavirus Task Force to today, we have relied on data, science, and the advice of healthcare professionals to guide our approach and decision-making. We have been surgical, targeted, and methodical, always putting the health and well-being of our citizens first, and doing our best to protect lives – and livelihoods – in every part of Georgia.

Reopening Specific Businesses

“In the same way that we carefully closed businesses and urged operations to end to mitigate the virus’ spread, today, we are announcing plans to incrementally – and safely – reopen sectors of our economy. To help in the battle against COVID-19, healthcare facilities across Georgia voluntarily paused elective surgeries to reduce equipment and personnel shortages. This selfless act by healthcare leaders enhanced our ability to keep Georgians safe. However, many now find themselves in a difficult financial situation, some losing millions of dollars a day as they sacrifice for the greater good. This is not sustainable long-term for these facilities. Given the recent changes in modeling as it relates to surge capacity and national supply as the needs of other states diminish and following weeks of discussions with hospital leaders and medical providers, I believe Georgia is positioned to secure the necessary personal protective equipment for healthcare facilities to resume elective surgeries deemed essential.

Hospitals should continue discussions in their regions to ensure that patient safety – and the safety of their workforce – is prioritized. I applaud all of the hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, doctors’ offices, dentists’ offices, physical therapists, and healthcare professionals that answered the call of duty and voluntarily closed their doors. It is impossible for me to adequately express my gratitude. And to all of the Georgians who waited on getting an important procedure to allow us to get on the other side of the curve, thank you. Your sacrifice saved lives.

Gyms, fitness center and more to open Friday

“Given the favorable data, enhanced testing, and approval of our healthcare professionals, we will allow:

  • gyms
  • fitness centers
  • bowling alleys
  • body art studios
  • barbers
  • cosmetologist
  • hair designers
  • nail care artists
  • estheticians, their respective schools, and
  • massage therapists

to reopen their doors this Friday, April 24, 2020. Unlike other businesses, these entities have been unable to manage inventory, deal with payroll, and take care of administrative items while we shelter in place. This measure allows them to undertake baseline operations that most other businesses in the state have maintained since I issued the shelter-in-place order.

“This measure will apply statewide and will be the operational standard in all jurisdictions. This means local action cannot be taken that is more or less restrictive. Over the next few days, we will continue to closely monitor existing and potential hotspots in our state. I stay in regular contact with local leaders across Georgia, especially those in Dougherty County, to ensure that we are providing adequate support. Right now, in Albany and Dougherty County, we are starting to see improvements. I talk to Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas on a regular basis to see if further action is warranted. Rest assured, if any community needs the state to intervene, we will do so with their input and partnership.

Conditioning Opening of Businesses

“The next point is an important one. The entities that I am reopening are not reopening for ‘business as usual.’ Each of these entities will be subject to specific restrictions, including adherence to Minimum Basic Operations, social distancing, and regular sanitation.

Minimum Basic Operations includes:

  • but is not limited to, screening workers for fever and respiratory illness
  • enhancing workplace sanitation
  • wearing masks and gloves if appropriate
  • separating workspaces by at least six feet
  • teleworking where at all possible, and
  • implementing staggered shifts.

“Subject to specific social distancing and sanitation mandates, theaters, private social clubs, and restaurant dine-in services will be allowed to reopen on Monday, April 27. We will release more information in the next few days. Bars, nightclubs, operators of amusement park rides, and live performance venues will remain closed. In the days ahead, we will be evaluating the data and conferring with public health officials to determine the best course of action for those establishments. By taking this measured action, we will get Georgians back to work safely without undermining the progress that we have all made in the battle against COVID-19.

“Today’s announcement is a small step forward and should be treated as such. The shelter in place order is still active and will expire at 11:59 PM on April 30 for most Georgians. We urge everyone to continue to follow CDC and DPH guidance by sheltering in place as often as you can. Limit your travel and limit who goes with you on errands to prevent potential exposure.

If possible, wear face masks or cloth coverings when you are in public to slow the spread of coronavirus. For medically fragile and elderly Georgians, make plans to shelter in place at least through May 13 – the date Georgia’s Public Health Emergency expires. Given the heightened risk of adverse consequences from your exposure to coronavirus, this is the recommended – and safest – path forward. We will release more details as we near the end of the month so medically fragile and elderly Georgians will have adequate time to prepare. I continue to call on my fellow Georgians to protect our elderly, limit your direct contact, and help them navigate the weeks ahead. We’re helping my mom during this time to ensure that she doesn’t have to go out, and I urge Georgians to do the same for their loved ones if they’re able.

Faith Institutions

“Do what you can to help those in need. For places of worship, holding in-person services is allowed, but under Phase One guidelines, it must be done in accordance with strict social distancing protocols. I urge faith leaders to continue to help us in this effort and keep their congregations safe by heeding the advice of public health officials. Of course, online, call-in, or drive-in services remain good options for religious institutions.

State spending and the future

“While I am encouraged by the data, proud of what we have accomplished, and confident of our plan moving forward, I know that the journey ahead is long. We must remain laser-focused on defeating this virus and keeping Georgians safe. We must find ways to revitalize communities devastated by COVID-19. We must identify opportunities for economic growth and prosperity.

“We will have tough conversations about the budget, state spending, and our priorities and values as a state. Those conversations are underway, and here’s what I know: if we remain united just as we have in this fight against COVID-19, we can overcome the challenges and obstacles ahead. But if we allow politics, partisanship, elections, and egos to divide us during this important inflection point, our entire state will suffer. So, as we begin this process – this measured, deliberate step forward – let’s reaffirm our commitment to each other, to the greater good, and to Georgia’s future.

“I am confident that together, we will emerge victorious from this war. With your help and God’s grace, we will build a safer, stronger, and more prosperous state for our families and generations to come. Thank you, and God Bless. Now, I’ll turn it over to Lieutenant Governor Duncan for brief remarks.”

Source: Governor Kemps Office Press Release

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Kemp Announce Plans to Extend Public Health State of Emergency



Governor Kemp

Today Governor Brian P. Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, and House Speaker David Ralston announced plans to extend Georgia’s public health state of emergency through May 13, 2020 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Under state law, the Governor may renew the public health state of emergency, which was otherwise set to expire on April 13, 2020. Lt. Governor Duncan and Speaker Ralston agree it is necessary for the public health emergency to be renewed and will not be requesting a special legislative session, which was tentatively scheduled for April 15, 2020.

“To ensure the health and well-being of Georgians, I will extend the public health state of emergency through May 13, 2020. This measure will allow us to continue to deploy resources to communities in need, lend support to frontline medical providers, and keep preparing as we brace for potential patient surge in our healthcare facilities. We deeply appreciate the hard work of Georgians who are sheltering in place, using social distancing, and helping us flatten the curve. We are in this fight together,” said Governor Kemp. “I appreciate Lt. Governor Duncan and Speaker Ralston continuing to work with us to ensure resources are available to proactively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I thank them for their support of an extended emergency declaration. In these unprecedented times, we ask Georgians for their continued patience and prayers, especially for first responders, law enforcement, and the healthcare workers caring for the medically fragile. They are going above and beyond to keep us all safe, and we will never be able to repay them for their sacrifices.”

“We must continue our aggressive fight against COVID-19,” said Lt. Governor Duncan. “By extending the public health state of emergency, we can ensure Georgians have access to every available state resource during this crisis. Together, Speaker Ralston and I are working closely with Governor Kemp to do all we can to make sure we are meeting the needs of every Georgian. The General Assembly will continue to remain vigilant and available to assist our citizens in any way possible.”

“The entirety of our state government is working to protect the health and safety of our citizens, and I appreciate the work of our state personnel and first responders during this challenging time,” said Speaker David Ralston. “While we have difficult days ahead, we continue to coordinate with both local and federal partners in responding to needs as they arise. As Georgians, we will persevere and emerge stronger on the other side.”

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