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October 25-- Toombs County was honored during the Association County Commissioners of Georgia's Legislative Leadership Conference as a 2017 County of Distinction. Honored for the Meadows Regional Medical Center and innovative approaches to rural healthcare access, Toombs County is one of six counties in Georgia to receive this designation. The conference took place at the Augusta Marriott.

countyPictured from left to right:  Georgia Trend Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Ben Young; Toombs County Chairman David Sikes; Oglethorpe County Chairman Billy Pittard; Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann; DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon; Augusta Mayor Pro Tem Mary Davis, Augusta City Administrator Janice Jackson, and Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis, Jr; and ACCG Executive Director Ross King. Not pictured:  Columbus-Muscogee County. Photo courtesy ACCG.

ACCG, Georgia’s county association, and Georgia Trend, the state’s leading business publication, regularly partner to honor counties for their innovative approaches to providing cost-effective services to their constituents. The Counties of Distinction designation is a new iteration of the Georgia County Excellence Awards program and continues to recognize counties that focus on improving the community.

This year’s award recipients were chosen for their initiatives to provide better access to healthcare, promote safer streets, combat veteran homelessness, offer alternative solutions to nonviolent offenders, bring jobs to the community, and to establish regional road paving partnerships.

“We are committed to recognizing county governments that aspire to leave a lasting impression in the community,” said ACCG Executive Director Ross King. “Their initiatives have made a difference and have contributed to the overall advancement of Georgia’s counties.”

Toombs County has found a way to mitigate the concern of healthcare access for its rural residents. Community leaders, along with MRMC President and CEO Alan Kent, noted the need for a specialty hospital within the region and shifted focus to become the hospital to provide such services. MRMC is the only accredited hospital serving the counties in its region treating an estimated 35,000 patients annually and delivering close to 900 babies.

The hospital has become well known for its exceptional patient care and job recruitment. As a self-funded, nonprofit hospital MRMC specializes in areas ranging from cancer treatment to pediatric services, and as a result, it consistently recruits health professionals and has become a reputable community-based organization.

“Counties are targeting their areas of vulnerability and finding solutions to strengthen them. The six counties of distinction are a true reflection of what it means for local governments to step up and meet the immediate needs of their citizens,” said ACCG President Allen Poole who serves as the chairman of Haralson County. “Our hope is that this designation not only recognizes distinct county initiatives but inspires others to take their county efforts to the next level.”