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Contributions to Phoebe Worth Through Georgia HEART Program Help Save Lives

Albany, GA | April 11, 2023 – Most mornings, Kenneth Potts is up early and working in his woodshop on his property in rural Worth County.  “I’m out here piddling before daylight every day.  It’s my therapy.  Ain’t many mornings I don’t see the sun rise,” he said.

Each day, that morning sun reminds him of how close he came to never seeing another sunrise.  “It’s the most trying thing I’ve ever been through.  I enjoy life now more than I ever have,” Potts said.

He began experiencing some unusual symptoms last fall – sharp pains, trouble comprehending things and difficulty expressing himself.  Even parishioners at Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, the country church where he preaches, noticed that one Sunday sermon just seemed a little off.  His family had been urging Potts to go to see a doctor, but he insisted he was fine.  Finally, a few days after that sermon, he decided he needed to go to the emergency center at Phoebe Worth Medical Center to get checked out.

“They were real good to us,” Potts said of the Phoebe Worth emergency staff.  “I’m just glad we’ve got our hospital out here.  It’s a blessing to have a place like that so close.”

The ER physician immediately ordered a brain scan using the new CT scanner Phoebe Worth had recently purchased with funds the hospital received through the Georgia HEART (Helping Enhance Access to Rural Treatment) Hospital Program.

“The purpose of this tax credit program is to help rural hospitals enhance the quality of care and service they provide to people in their areas and even expand needed services.  It’s certainly helped us do that here in Sylvester,” said Kim Gilman, Phoebe Worth CEO.

Essentially, that program allows taxpayers to direct their tax dollars to the qualifying rural hospital of their choice.  When you give through Georgia HEART, you get a state tax credit for the full amount of your contribution up to a certain limit.  That limit is $5,000 for an individual filer and $10,000 for a married couple filing jointly.  Businesses can also participate and may be eligible to contribute up to 75% of their Georgia tax liability.

Since 2017, Phoebe Worth has spent more than $2 million dollars in Georgia HEART donations on multiple projects from renovating all patient rooms to purchasing new equipment such as patient transport vans and emergency center patient stretchers.  One HEART-funded project currently underway is the renovation of the emergency center entrance, which will improve ambulance access and provide a larger waiting area for patients.

“We can’t thank our Georgia HEART donors enough.  Because of them, we’ve been able to make major improvements to our hospital.  Donors not only get the satisfaction of helping our patients, they’re able to take advantage of the significant tax benefits associated with the program,” Gilman said.  “It really is a win-win.”

In 2022, Phoebe Worth used the bulk of its rural hospital tax credit program contributions to upgrade its imaging equipment, which certainly benefited Kenneth Potts during his November visit.  His scan showed a mass on his brain.  Potts was quickly flown by air ambulance to Emory Hospital in Atlanta where specialists determined a fungal infection in his sinuses had formed a potentially deadly abscess in his brain.

“They saved my life there in Sylvester.  They listened and they looked and they found the problem and they got me where I needed to be,” he said.  “It ain’t just God that needs the glory.  It’s the people that God has blessed with the know-how.”

Potts underwent emergency brain surgery in Atlanta, and he’s been on anti-fungal medicine ever since.  His recovery has been slow, but steady.  He credits not only the medical teams in Sylvester and Atlanta, but his family and loved ones for helping him through this crisis.

“I’ve helped people all my life and never needed help, but I’ve been dependent on people.  If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have made it,” he said before quoting a favorite scripture – Psalms 27:13 – that means more to him now than ever.  “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”