Georgia’s hidden world of poverty
Kinsell, who practices medicine in rural Southwest Georgia, confronts what she
calls the “hidden world” of poverty daily in her Clay County office: patients who
and have a hard time coming up with $10 for an office visit; others who are
chronically ill with treatable diseases like diabetes and hypertension; still
transportation or gas money to drive 30 miles to the nearest pharmacy to get a
The fact that so
many, especially in rural areas, cannot access basic healthcare is as troubling
to her as it is inexplicable.
something all humans need,” she says. “Everyone’s born, with medical attention;
everyone dies, usually with a great deal of medical attention. Most people get
sick a bunch of times in-between. The idea that only a certain number of people
can afford this very basic requirement in one of the richest countries of the
world – it just doesn’t make sense.”
Kinsell, the only
doctor in her county, believes that a lot of Georgians simply don’t realize how
much poverty there is throughout the state and how deep its roots go.
like a hidden world,” she says. “I think many people don’t have first-hand
knowledge of these situations. They don’t honestly understand these situations
She is glad that
Georgia is finally taking steps toward some Medicaid expansion but worries that
it won’t be enough for a state that ranks so low – 49th, by one estimate
– in health insurance coverage.
“If we are
pretending to be this modern Southern state with the largest transportation
infrastructure in the country, how are we living like a third world country in
a very large part of the state? If we are the leader and the model, how can we
allow this to be happening? It’s certainly not that we can’t afford it. If it’s
road money or Port of Savannah money, we have it.”
Why not when
it’s a matter of taking care of humans?
“I don’t think
people mean to be mean. If they saw these situations,” the harm and suffering
caused by lack of basic healthcare, “they would help address it themselves. I can
attest that these things are going on. It’s extreme, more concentrated here,
but it’s going on all over the state.”
To learn more about Dr. Kinsell and her practice, read “The Only Doctor In Town” in the June issue.
Photo of Dr. Karen Kinsell by Todd Stone