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August 1, 2013 Issue

Students heading back to class
Work continues on new Academy
Murder trial set for Sept. 16
Patients in ER to be screened

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Students heading back to class

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Schools open their doors to new and returning students in the next few days.

Jefferson County public school students begin their school year Monday, Aug. 5, as do those in Glascock County.


Students attending Thomas Jefferson Academy head to class on Tuesday, Aug. 6, for half a day. Their first day of class will end at noon.

Jefferson County
Enrollment in the public schools in Jefferson County is an estimated 2,813, a slight drop in last year’s ending enrollment of 2,840.

At this point, the number of teachers for those students is estimated to be 204.

Open house for Louisville Middle School will be held Thursday, Aug. 1, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Carver and Wrens elementary schools as well as Louisville Academy will have their open house on Friday, Aug. 2, from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. Open house for Jefferson High School will be that same day but from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Open house for Wrens Middle School will be held Sunday, Aug. 4, from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m.

The school day for all elementary schools begins at 8 a.m. and lasts until 3 p.m.

The day at LMS starts at 7:35 a.m. and ends at 3:15 p.m.

WMS begins its day at 7:40 a.m. and ends at 3:15 p.m.

JCHS will start the day at 7:55 a.m. and last until 2:55 pm.

Both middle schools were added to the Safe Rider Program last year. The program has been conducted with the elementary schools for the last three years. It teaches the students who ride school buses about danger zones and where to stand and walk to improve their safety.

This year, the students will still view the video but they will also be taken around a bus and shown how to be safer.

Another issue the program addresses is where students should stand while waiting for the bus, which should be at least 12 feet from the road.

The school system’s website is http://www.jefferson.k12.ga.us

Glascock County
In Glascock County, students begin school this year on Monday, Aug. 5.

Enrollment is about 575, a drop from last year’s ending enrollment of 605.

“Pre-k is not in the system right now; and, that’s about 28 who have enrolled. Our senior class last year graduated 28. So the enrollment will actually be about the same,” Jessica Miller said. Miller is the school system’s federal programs director.

The county has 39 teachers.

Glascock County Consolidated School will open its doors to students at 7:50 a.m. The tardy bell will ring at 8 a.m.

Elementary students will be dismissed for the buses at 3:05 p.m. Middle and high school students will be dismissed at 3:10 p.m. Car riders will be dismissed once the buses leave.

Open house at the school begins Friday, Aug. 2, at 3 p.m. and will last until 7 p.m.

This year, the school will be participating in the career academy in Warren County. In a partnership with Oconee Fall Line College, seniors at GCCS will be allowed to attend OFLC for nursing or welding programs.

Students who want more information on these programs should contact the school’s counselor, Ann Cantrell.

The school system’s website is www.glascock.k12.ga. us.

“Our students had some really good scores from state tests this past year and we’re looking to maintain that level or surpass it,”said Jim Holton, Glascock County School Board Superintendent.

Thomas Jefferson Academy
The first day of school for Thomas Jefferson Academy is Tuesday, Aug. 6, with a noon dismissal.

Enrollment this year around 250, slightly more than last year’s ending enrollment of about 242.

The school has 25 teachers.

The school day begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 2:36 p.m.

Open house is Friday, Aug. 2, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

The school’s website is www.tjajags.com.

Work continues on new Academy

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

The new Louisville Academy currently being built should be completed in March 2014, said Dr. Molly Howard, Jefferson County’s school superintendent, in an interview last month.

“It’s coming along on schedule,” she said, adding she attends regular construction meetings with the architect and the builders.


She said there was one incident when workers accidentally cut through the fiber and phone lines, causing some downtime in the academy’s computers and phones for a few days.

“Those repairs have been made,” she said. Recent rains have pushed the completion date to March of next year, but that is still within the initial timeline.

Howard said they will use the summer to move into the building.

“The architect comes every other week,” Hulet Kitterman, the school’s principal, said, adding they’re beginning the plumbing.

“It’s coming along nicely,” said the architect, Craig Buckley. “There will be a representative of our firm at the job site three days a week, even if it’s for 30 minutes,” he said.

Buckley said there was asbestos in the gymnasium, one of the buildings taken down. The new school will be located on the site of what had been the gym and another building. Those buildings in turn had been built on the site of an earlier Louisville Academy.

The asbestos was removed by a different contractor, one licensed in asbestos removal.

Buckley said the original cornerstones and the Louisville Academy arch that had been at the front of the previous building will be left where they are.

The state is contributing about $3.1 million to the construction.

Murder trial set for Sept. 16

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

The trial of a man accused of two murders is scheduled to begin next month on Friday, Sept. 16, at 9 a.m. before Superior Court Chief Judge Kathy Palmer.

Willie James Kitchens, 32, of Wadley, was arrested in June 2011 in connection to the deaths that year of Melanie Troupe, 22, and Corey Kemp, 33. Both of the victims were residents of Wadley.


A fire had been reported in the home where the victims were found. A spokesman for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said at the time both Troupe and Kemp died from sharp, forced wounds.

Last week, Jefferson County District Attorney Hayward Altman said at least two preliminary motion hearings have been scheduled prior to the start of the trial.

One of those, a related acts hearing, is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 2, at 10 a.m. at the Jefferson County Courthouse, where the trial is scheduled. Assistant District Attorney Kelly Jenkins will handle that hearing for the prosecution, Altman said.

“I will handle a Jackson Denno hearing,” he said, adding he could not comment more about that hearing as he cannot comment on evidence.

A Jackson Denno hearing is defined as a hearing to determine if a confession or statements made by a defendant were given involuntarily and so should be suppressed as evidence.

Altman also addressed the recent update to security at the courthouse.

“We’ve now started putting in additional security anyway,” he said.

“From here on out, every time we come to trial for criminal cases we will have the enhanced security procedures because the nature of what we do has changed. The sheriff, the judges and my office have recognized that,” Altman said.

The trial will cover charges against Kitchens for both victims. Altman said the jury will have a range of options regarding each victim.

Patients in ER to be screened

By Parish Howard

Just because it hurts does not mean it is an emergency.

As of Aug. 1, Jefferson Hospital will be implementing a new emergency room screening policy with the hopes of directing patients to the appropriate level of care and reducing a certain amount of medical expenses.


“We’ve been looking at this process for about a year and a half now so everybody has been on board to initiate it and I think we’ll see…a decrease in self pay and ER abuse,” Jefferson Hospital’s Director of Nursing Teresa Salter told board members during a recent meeting.

According to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) United States hospitals are required to provide care to anyone needing emergency healthcare treatment regardless of their legal status, citizenship or ability to pay. However, most hospital officials across the country will tell you that there are a lot of people who come into their ERs that do not need emergency care, but should be seeking treatment in a doctor’s office setting.

“You get flooded with patients who are not emergent and we have a more appropriate setting for non-emergent care,” Salter said. “It just overloads the ER system to see primary care in an emergency department setting. And I don’t want to talk too much about money but of course if you get an earache and you come to the ER it’s going to be more expensive than if you go to the doctor’s office to be treated for the same earache. Because you’re having to pay for a higher level of care.”

Emergency room care is not just more expensive for the patient, but it means more costs for the hospital and insurance companies.

According to Matt Clark, the hospital’s assistant CFO, total outpatient indigent/charity charges during 2012 at Jefferson Hospital were $670,954. Of that, there were 483 ER visits that totaled $316,913. In all he said about 30 percent of the ER visits were indigent care that amounted to about 47 percent of all the hospital’s indigent care charges.

In the past, it has not been uncommon for Jefferson County’s ER to see patients for colds, sinusitis, minor injuries like stubbed toes, earaches, venereal diseases, suspected pregnancies, etc.

In all Salter said, the ER has been averaging about 550 visits per month.

Under the new policy, after the patients are seen by a nurse and get through the triage procedure, a medical professional will screen them to see if their need is emergent.

“This (policy) is something they are doing all over the U.S. so we’re just catching up with the rest of the hospitals,” Salter said. “This is pretty standard practice in most hospitals, rural and urban.”

If the doctor, nurse practioner or physician’s assistant determines that the patient’s need is not emergent, according to the policy, a clerk will then determine if the patient has insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. If not, then the patient will be asked for a dollar amount to continue the service.

“Every patient will receive a medical screening by a medical provider,” Salter explained. “If it is an emergent need, you will be seen regardless. It doesn’t matter, you’ll be seen. If it’s deemed not emergent, you can still be seen for a fee…. That fee may not cover the cost of the visit, but would be a down payment that shows some responsibility on the patient’s part to pay for part of their healthcare.”

As of last week, that fee schedule had not been sent by Pioneer Health Services, the hospital’s new management company.

“The purpose is to determine if an emergency medical condition (EMC) exists for each patient presenting to our emergency department (ED),” Salter said. “Patients who do not have an EMC and elect not to be treated at our ED will be provided information on options for treatment at more appropriate levels of care in the community.

“You will still have the option of being seen even if you’re not emergent, if you’re willing to pay a portion your bill. But otherwise, if it’s not emergent (and the patient chooses not to be seen in the ER) we will still give you a list of resources of physicians in the county, and it’s not just Jefferson Hospital physicians, where they can seek medical attention for their non-emergent need.”

Salter said the ER will go so far as to offer to set up an appointment for the patient with another local medical provider, the health department or other local clinic.

The screening policy says that anyone whose symptoms meet certain emergent care criteria, will continue to be seen regardless of their ability to pay.

Salter explained that anyone with trauma, any type of chest or abdominal pain, blood pressure that is too high or low, fever greater than 102.5 and other criteria associated with age will continue to get them seen and treated in the ER.

“When you have an emergency, it doesn’t matter, we’re going to treat you,” Salter said. “And this exclusion criteria is not definite, because if you bring in your 7-year-old with an earache late on a Friday night and we know they can’t wait until Monday to get the antibiotic or something for pain we’re going to put that on the side of treatment regardless. But if it’s at 10 Monday morning we’re going to screen that out to go to your doctor.”

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Last modified: August 2, 2013