Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 42

Hometown HEROES

By Jackie Kennedy

'The most satisfying
thing I could do'
Clay County doctor helps those most in need

42

Georgia Magazine

January 2021

Dr. Karen Kinsell
stands near the
entrance to her
clinic in Fort
Gaines.

JACKIE KENNEDY

D

r. Karen Kinsell was the only physician practicing medicine
in rural Clay County for many years, and she has developed a reputation for serving those less fortunate at her
clinic in Fort Gaines.
" She never turns anyone away and usually spends 30 minutes
with each patient addressing not just their medical needs but survival needs, " says Elizabeth McLeod, who now lives near Athens and
nominated Kinsell as a Hometown Hero. " She is a rare and wonderful human being and a blessing to many towns in the area. "
A graduate of Columbia University's medical school in New
York City, Kinsell trained at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in
the Bronx, N.Y., and ran homeless shelters near Times Square in the
heart of Manhattan. As she prepared to leave the city, she sought a
location in desperate need of her services.
" I went to a library, got a map and book of states, and found
places that needed help, " says Kinsell, who opened Clay County
Medical Center in a former Tastee-Freez in 1998. Housed in a brick
building with four patient rooms, the center attracts patients from
Clay and surrounding counties in Southwest Georgia, where poverty
is common and health care is sparse.
In the past seven years, three hospitals within a 60-mile radius
have shut down, including a Randolph County hospital that closed
in October. In November, Mercer Medicine opened a clinic in Fort
Gaines, bringing another doctor to practice in Clay County for the
first time in 15 years.
About a third of Kinsell's patients don't have insurance, so she
sees them for $10, according to the community doctor.
" These patients can't pay for their care without government
subsidy, " she says, calling her clinic " more of a private charity. " To
fund it, she takes on part-time work, such as performing exams for
veterans in Bainbridge and serving as assistant medical director for
a plasma clinic in Columbus.
In late 2020, Kinsell was still serving most of her patients
via telemedicine, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. At 65, she
doesn't plan to retire any time soon. Instead, she intends to
continue the work that fulfills her.
" It's a privilege and incredibly rewarding, " she says. " It's the
most satisfying thing I could do, and that's why I'll do it for another
10 years or more maybe. "
McLeod, a former Randolph County resident and still Kinsell's
patient even though she now lives in Athens, once offered the doctor
a paid weekend getaway to Cumberland Island. Kinsell declined the
gift, replying, " Elizabeth, I have to work Saturdays. "
Jackie Kennedy is a freelance writer living in LaGrange.



Georgia Magazine - January 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - January 2021

Contents
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 4
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 5
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 6
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 7
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 8
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 9
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 10
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 11
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 12
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 13
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 14
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 15
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 16
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 17
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 18
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 19
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 20
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 21
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 22
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 22A
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 22B
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 22C
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 22D
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 23
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 24
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 25
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 26
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 27
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 28
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Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 33
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Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 37
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Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 41
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - 42
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - January 2021 - Cover4
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