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American Farmer, It Is Your Time!
By Dr. David BridgesAbraham Baldwin Agricultural College American farmer, it is your time to shine. Yes, despite all the gloom and doom that surrounds us, it is a time when the American farmer can shine. Maybe I should say, it’s a time that the public sees your shine, because your light shines bright all the time. The public may need a little help if they are to see the shine through the clouds, but during this time when consumer items like masks, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer are short, Americans should be reminded that they have the most abundant, safest, and cheapest food supply in the world – thanks to the American farmer. Maybe you’ve heard this before, but I heard my good friend Tom McCall say, “you need five things to live – air, water, food, fiber, and shelter. God gives us two of these, air and water, and three come from the farmer.” Wow, just think, if Americans hear that, understand it, and appear grateful for it, they might be willing to pay a bit more for the safety and security that they gain from what you do. Cheap is usually not better! No doubt times are tough. The public is rightfully concerned about COVID19. In fact, much of America is consumed with fear. Uncertainty and unknowns are the roots of fear. Maybe the public could learn a few things from farmers. As I’ve been about rural Georgia, farmers are at work getting the 2020 crop in place. They are not hesitating. Besides, being alone in the tractor cab on the back forty is a great form of social distancing. Despite the hurricanes, tornadoes, sharply rising costs of production, depressed commodity prices, and trade issues, farmers do what they always do. They spend their money, plant their seed, and pray for the best. Think about it, they really don’t control their destiny, just like you don’t necessarily control yours here on Earth. Farmers can’t control the weather, the market, and they fight off the pests every year, but they act with faith, hope, and optimism. We can’t all be farmers, but we should thank farmers for what they do. And, maybe we could learn something about determination, self-reliance, and faith from farmers. Just a thought! Farmers risk it all every year so that we can have abundant, safe, and cheap food, clothing, and shelter. My mom said that when she was a small girl her grandfather made her promise she wouldn’t grow up and marry a drinker or a gambler. She said she got it half right. She didn’t marry a drinker, but she did marry a farmer, and I am glad she did. http://georgia.growingamerica.com/features/2020/04/american-farmer-it-your-timeRead Story
Hospitals in Rural Communities Get Help in Fighting Coronavirus Battle
By Michael D. Chason Director of Public Relations Emeritus Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College TIFTON—The words tumbled onto my phone’s screen, each one conveying a sense of urgency in a time of need. “So, I know it’s late, but I just thought of something. Our main problem we are having right now is a shortage of personal protective equipment. I thought about the ABAC Chemistry Lab. Are there any goggles or plastic gowns that could be donated? At the rate we’re going, we could be out of protective equipment by Saturday. We do have a positive case at TRMC tonight.” The sender of the text was my daughter, Dr. Tracy Nolan, an ABAC graduate who is the first female general surgeon in the history of Tift Regional Medical Center. As the Director of Public Relations Emeritus at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, I knew her reasoning was sound. ABAC does have multiple chemistry labs and with all classes going online for the remainder of the spring semester, this was a request in a situation where ABAC could have an instant impact on a virus that’s leaving hospitals across the country short of the necessary protective equipment. A quick email to ABAC President David Bridges and Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Paul Willis brought immediate results. “Let’s see what we have, gather it up, and get it to them,” Bridges said. “We need to do what we can for Tift Regional.” As the clock ticked toward midnight on March 19 an hour after the initial text, Willis affirmed that ABAC did have some of the supplies, and he had already put the request into motion. ABAC staff members inventoried the supply closets in the laboratory sciences building on March 20 and by mid-afternoon, the equipment was assembled and ready for pickup. Nolan texted Geanie Vines, the charge nurse for the TRMC operating room. In her own vehicle, Vines met me at the west entrance of the ABAC lab sciences building. Willis arranged for two officers from the ABAC Police Department, Ryant Wright and Joe Weatherford, to assist Vines in loading the boxes into her vehicle. Less than 20 hours after Nolan’s initial text, Tift Regional had a small supply of splash resistant goggles, gloves, and a box of laminated polypropylene aprons headed back to the operating room. “Omg. Thank you!! That’s awesome,” Nolan texted. Just one example of how entities in rural communities can communicate and help each other. But there’s more. Flashers flashed but no horns honked. And the vehicles, mostly cars but some trucks and at least one motorcycle, kept coming. For 45 minutes, the vehicles circled Tift Regional Medical Center, loaded with community members, offering up prayers for the doctors, nurses, staff members, and patients involved in the coronavirus battle. Organized by Dr. Fred Evers, pastor at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton, the motorists gathered in the Affinity Clinic parking lot at 4 p.m. on March 22. The line of vehicles streamed slowly out of the parking lot and assisted by Tifton Police Department officers, crept down 20th Street toward Tift Regional. Tears streamed down many faces both in the cars and on the sidewalk as hospital staff members stood outside the hospital, thanking the Tift Countians who came out in prayer support. Chris Dorman, President/CEO of Southwell, waved to every motorist as he stood just outside his facility dressed in scrubs, apparently ready to support his health care professionals in any way that he could. Dorman said every Southwell employee was honored and appreciative. “Thanks for the prayers and support from our local residents,” Dorman said. “It really gave a boost to our team of medical professionals who are here to serve.” “It was just something we could do,” Evers said. “These men and women do so much for us. It’s the least we could do for them in their time of need.” And there are many other examples of community members opening their hearts and lives to those in rural hospital settings. ABAC President David Bridges drove to Macon in the pre-dawn stillness on March 23 to meet a friend who ran a welding supply business. Bridges paid for a carload of protective masks and other equipment, turned his vehicle around and headed back south down I-75. “I had a contact, I knew he had the masks, and together we got it done,” Bridges said. “I called Chris Dorman when I was at the Brighton Road exit, and he arranged for someone to meet me and pick up the masks near the hospital. I knew I didn’t need to take them in. It all worked out.” Lisa Reinhardt and Gina Chambers are leading the charge for a determined band of Tifton mask-makers for Tift Regional employees, and many more concerned citizens in the community are helping the effort. Kathy Baker, wife of ABAC Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jerry Baker, has made 12 of the protective masks. Each one has a slightly different pattern. She intends to make more. Just to do her part. Nolan, who has postponed many of her elective surgeries, said Tift Regional employees appreciate the support. Working inside the facility has a different feel to it in these stressful times. “Every employee has to go through a screening of five questions and get our temperature taken every day,” Nolan said. “All the screenings are outside. We are all asked the same important questions. Do you have a fever? Do you have a cough? Have you had contact with a person who might have been exposed to Covid-19? Have you worked at another health care facility? Have you traveled out of the country? We get a different sticker every day.” Nolan has operated on a few of her patients with breast cancer, and she continues to put in ports for chemotherapy patients. “It’s a different time in the hospital,” Nolan said. “I can see that some people are sad or scared. But nobody’s complaining. This is what we do. We take care of people on their worst days.” In times of need, rural communities rise and show support for their own health care facility and the medical professionals who are on the front lines in the fight against coronavirus. Small town America at its best. ###Read Story
Is There an ABAC Doctor, Pharmacist, Dentist, Lawyer, or Veterinarian in the House?
Dr. Thomas Turcotte is an ABAC alumnus who is a veterinarian at Harrodsburg (Ky.) Animal Hospital. The path to becoming a doctor, dentist, lawyer, veterinarian or pharmacist just took a sharp turn and leads right through the center of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. “Our faculty are committed to helping our students while they’re enrolled at ABAC and beyond,” Dr. Matthew Anderson, Dean of the ABAC School of Arts and Sciences, said. “We work very hard at preparing our graduates for life after ABAC.” For more and more of those students that life after walking the graduation stage at ABAC points directly toward professional schools in medicine, law, pharmacy, and many others. Pedro Escobar from Tifton, pictured with his wife, Melissa, is a student at the Mercer University School of Medicine. Recent ABAC graduates Pedro Escobar from Tifton and Kyle Posey from Irwinville began attending the Mercer University School of Medicine this fall. Escobar is receiving the Nathan Deal Scholarship which covers his tuition. “ABAC provided me with several opportunities, friendships, and overall was a contributor and stepping-stone to my success,” Escobar said. Posey was equally impressed with his ABAC preparation for medical school, giving credit to all his professors and to his advisor, Dr. Marvin Holtz. “Many of my higher biological science classes helped me get where I am today and helped with my understanding and studying for the Medical School Admission Test,” Posey said. Escobar and Posey both received their bachelor’s degrees in biology from ABAC, and Escobar also received his associate degree in nursing. “We are very successful in preparing students for professional schools, graduate schools, and careers in science,” Dr. Joseph Falcone, professor of chemistry and physics in the ABAC School of Arts and Sciences, said. “ABAC is the place for a high-quality education at a sound price.” Dr. Tracy Nolan is an ABAC alumnus who is the first female general surgeon in the history of Tift Regional Medical Center. Dr. Tracy Nolan, a 1997 ABAC alumnus and a Mercer University Medical School graduate, would certainly agree with that. In 2015, she became the first female general surgeon at Tift Regional Medical Center. Nolan was the guest speaker at the 2018 ABAC fall commencement ceremony. “I started college right here at ABAC,” Nolan told the graduates. “You need to start climbing the ladder of success. Every rung brings you closer to being or doing what makes you, you. Develop connections. Let people know they can count on you. Be confident in your ability to get the job done. Get out there! Not much was ever accomplished by sitting around.” Falcone said ABAC alumnus Kelly Delgado from Tifton is also enrolled at the Mercer University School of Medicine. Jeremy Paradice from Moultrie and Abby Unger from Douglas have both gained early admission to the Mercer University School of Medicine, and Elias Moreno from Moultrie is a medical student at Kansas City University. ABAC graduates Shelby McCoy Flowers from Moultrie, Julia Patterson from Sylvester, and Christian Edwards from Moultrie are enrolled in the new Moultrie campus of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM). PCOM and ABAC recently announced an agreement which allows students seeking careers as pharmacists to earn doctoral degrees a year early at PCOM Georgia. The Suwanee campus is the home of the PCOM School of Pharmacy. Dr. Shawn Spencer, Dean of the PCOM School of Pharmacy, said the agreement allows eligible students to enter the pharmacy school after completing coursework through their junior year at ABAC. Students who meet the School of Pharmacy requirements can matriculate into professional school before graduating from ABAC and will have the opportunity to earn a combined BS-PharmD while at PCOM Georgia. Spencer explained that after completion of the second year of pharmacy school, these students will be eligible to receive their bachelor’s degree from ABAC, having earned the required credits during their first two years at PCOM Georgia. Students can begin their careers as pharmacists early and save tuition dollars in the process. “We continually strive to add value for our students,” Spencer said. “We’re very pleased about ABAC’s partnership with us and will continue to support Georgia residents entering the region’s healthcare workforce.” At ABAC, Anderson is always on the lookout for ways to help students, and he sees the PCOM partnership as one of those avenues. “We are very excited about this new venture with PCOM,” Anderson said. “It is sure to be of tremendous benefit to our students and the broader region. This agreement will allow students to complete their combined bachelor and doctoral level education in a shorter time frame, which will make this advanced training more accessible and prepare more pharmacists to enter the workforce.” ABAC graduate Sabrina Harris from Albany is taking the pharmacy route and has been granted early admission to the South University pharmacy program. Many ABAC students have a love for animals, and a few of them transfer that affection into a career in veterinary medicine. Dr. Thomas Turcotte is a former ABAC Ambassador who attended the School of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University. A 2012 ABAC graduate, he is now a veterinarian at Harrodsburg Animal Hospital in Harrodsburg, Ky. ABAC graduate Michelle Moncrief from Donalsonville is attending St. George’s University Veterinary Medicine program, and Morgan Russ from Deland, Fla., is enrolled at the Ross University Veterinary School. Brooke Clark from Stockbridge is in Harrogate, Tenn., at the Lincoln Memorial University Veterinary Medicine program. Do you have a toothache? In a few years, you can turn that bad bicuspid over to ABAC alumnus Jose Daniel Vargas from Moultrie who is enrolled at Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine. Dr. Joe Njoroge, Head of the ABAC Department of History and Political Science, said that ABAC students are also headed to law school. “We have been able to assist several students who are going to very good law schools,” Njoroge said. The list includes Alexus Holton from Griffin, Hannah Green from Hiram, and Savannah Hartley from Glenwood, all attending the Mercer University School of Law. ABAC History and Government graduate Hannah Robinson from Statesboro is attending the Michigan State University Law School, where she is receiving a scholarship which covers most of her tuition. Njoroge said Taylor Swindell from Live Oak, Fla., attends the Faulkner University School of Law, and Mary Sirmans from Donalsonville is going to law school at Liberty University. Other ABAC graduates headed to professional schools include Grant Hudson from Chula, a former vocalist in the Voices of ABAC, who has gained early admission to the Palmer College of Chiropractic Medicine. Miranda Somers from Macon, another ABAC bachelor’s degree in biology graduate, is enrolled at the South University Physician’s Assistant program. Megan Shannon from Dublin is pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Georgia Southern University, and Amanda Mohammed from Snellville attends Emory University, which offers one of the top public health programs in the nation. A rural community development major at ABAC, Mohammed is aiming for a master’s degree in public health. Six other ABAC students laid the foundation for their medical school careers this summer when they participated in the Southwest Georgia Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Pathway to Medical School program. Falcone said the students included Abby Unger from Douglas, Tyler White from Douglas, Trey Doss from Tifton, Breanna Green from Tifton, Kristi Guerrero from Moultrie, and Makayla Paulk from Willacoochee. “It was a very selective program,” Falcone said. “Out of the 10 students admitted for the entire program, six were from ABAC, three were from the University of Georgia, and one was from Georgia Southwestern.” AHEC’s Pathway to Medical School is a four-week residential program which prepares students for medical school by offering them clinical and research experiences, as well as networking opportunities, campus tours, mock interviews, and more. So the next time you go to your friendly neighborhood doctor, lawyer, dentist, pharmacist, or veterinarian, ask them where they went to college. ABAC alumni are everywhere. ###Read Story