GHA Member Hospital Happenings

Memorial Health Files Amendment With State to Increase Children's Hospital Investment


Memorial Health submitted an amendment to the Georgia Department of Community Health to increase its investment its Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah. This request will increase the size of the facility from 85,000 to 90,000 square feet and the investment from the previously approved $65 million to $74 million.

“From the beginning, our goal has been to build the very best children’s hospital to provide high-quality healthcare for the children and families in southeast Georgia,” said Brad Buckler, MD, Physician-in-Chief for the Children’s Hospital. “After comparing our plans to other children’s hospitals within the HCA Healthcare family, we saw an opportunity to improve our design by increasing the size of our surgical care area in the new facility.”

The new design will improve the experience and facilities for parents and families while their children are undergoing surgical care. It includes more spacious operating rooms and a larger post-anesthesia care unit for recovery. The new facility is expected to open in the 4th quarter of 2020.

“We are excited to share the good news about our continued investment in the Memorial Health Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah,” said Shayne George, CEO of Memorial Health. “Our goal is to ensure that parents and families have easy access to the very best care for their children. This expanded investment will do just that.”

Colony Bank Contributes $25,000 to Crisp Regional Hospital

Taking advantage of the statewide rural hospital organization expense tax credit program, referred to as “Georgia HEART,” Colony Bank has contributed $25,000 to Crisp Regional Hospital. CRH will use the contribution to purchase new technologies to continue providing exceptional patient care.

“At Colony Bank, serving our local community is one of our top priorities,” said Bob Evans, Market President of Colony Bank. “This contribution is just another way we can strengthen our community and invest in the health care of current and future generations.”

Lawmakers enacted the Georgia HEART tax credit program to encourage taxpayers throughout Georgia to learn more about the financial and other challenges rural hospitals face and to contribute to improve their financial condition and patient offerings.

Recently, the Governor signed legislation that increases the tax credit percentage for contributions to qualified rural hospitals from 90% to 100%, making this even more attractive to companies considering a philanthropic gift to their local rural hospital. A “C” Corporation or trust shall be allowed a 100% Georgia income tax credit for contributions to rural hospitals equal to the amount of the contribution, or 75 percent of the corporation's or trust’s income tax liability, whichever is less

“On behalf of Crisp Regional, I want to express my sincere gratitude to Colony Bank for this gift,” said Brooke Marshall, Foundation Director at Crisp Regional.  “Once again, Colony Bank has shown its commitment to the Crisp community, and this gift will truly make a difference and will help us better serve our patients.”

Currently, 58 rural hospitals are eligible to receive these tax credit-eligible contributions from individuals and businesses across the state. Of those hospitals, 52 are participating in the Georgia HEART program to assist them with the marketing and administration of the rural hospital organization expense tax credit. Together, these hospitals and Georgia HEART are Helping to Enhance Access to Rural Treatment.

Georgia HEART is partnering with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Hospital Association to maximize the financial and non-financial impact of philanthropic investments in rural hospitals by Georgia businesses.

For information about contributing for a rural hospital organization expense tax credit and making an impact on our local community, please visit the Georgia HEART website at or contact Brooke Marshall at

Dr. Lauren Dowling Joining Oconee Heart & Vascular

Cardiologist J. Lauren Dowling, DO, is joining Oconee Heart and Vascular Center (OHVC) effective Sept. 1, and will be practicing full-time at the Monroe office, located at 868 Michael Etchison Road, Suite B.

Dr. Dowling becomes the 10th member of OHVC, part of St. Mary's Medical Group. As a cardiologist, Dr. Dowling is dedicated to helping patients who need outpatient heart care, including wellness and prevention; patient and family education; monitoring, testing and treatment of cardiovascular conditions; device monitoring and follow-up, and management of chronic conditions such as heart failure. He has a special interest in non-invasive imaging such as nuclear medicine and echocardiography.

Dr. Dowling comes to OHVC from the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, where he recently completed his cardiology fellowship at Largo Medical Center, serving as co-chief of the general cardiology fellowship program for the 2017-2018 academic year. Since 2016, he has also practiced as a hospitalist at the Medical Center of Trinity, Fla., providing direct, hands-on care in an inpatient setting. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and board-eligible in cardiology.

He earned his bachelor's degree in biology from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., his doctor's degree in osteopathic medicine from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Suwanee, Ga., and completed his internal medicine residency at Largo Medical Center. He is certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine.

Mended Hearts Recognizes Phoebe and Southwest Georgia Chapter

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital was recently awarded Southern Regional Hospital of the Year at the National Mended Hearts Conference in Texas. The Southwest Georgia Chapter #165, which partners solely with Phoebe, also took home top awards, including Regional Chapter of the Year and the prestigious President’s Cup - National Chapter of the Year.


“It was an honor to present at the national conference as well as accept the Hospital of the Year award on the behalf of Phoebe. We have a long history of working with our Mended Hearts chapter to provide peer-to-peer support to our heart patients. To see our chapter’s hard work recognized for Regional and National Chapter of the Year spoke to the importance of our partnership,” said Judy Himes, Volunteer Services Coordinator, Phoebe.


Phoebe was nominated for Regional Hospital of the Year because of the hospital’s continuous support of Mended Hearts over the years. In early 2017, the Southwest Georgia chapter of Mended Hearts and Phoebe worked together to evaluate and revise organizational procedures to positively impact heart patients. With the implementation of the new procedures and the support Phoebe provided the chapter, patient and family visits by chapter-accredited visitors increased by more than 1,500%. That included 6,000 in-room hospital visits and nearly 4,000 mailings or phone calls to patients, caregivers and families.


“Our volunteers are former heart patients sitting down with current heart patients. We are fortunate to have these dedicated volunteers and Phoebe staff who have worked tirelessly this past year to provide heart patients in the region a strong support system,” added Al Voss, Assistant Regional Director and Southwest Georgia Chapter President, Mended Hearts.


For over 30 years, Phoebe and Mended Hearts have partnered to provide quality services to cardiac patients and their families. Phoebe cardiologists and staff support patients not just within the walls of the hospital but in the community – speaking at chapter meetings and events.


Over the last year, the Southwest Georgia Chapter made many improvements that demonstrated a commitment to Phoebe’s mission and Mended Hearts – providing a positive patient experience and access to resources. The relationship between Phoebe and the chapter is serving as a model for other chapters in the region and nationally.


“This award is an incredible honor and testament to our ongoing commitment to provide the region’s best cardiac care and support for our patients,” shared Tom Sullivan, Sr. Vice President/Operations. “We want to thank Mended Hearts members who make our program even stronger. These folks are real-life heroes who draw upon their personal heart care experiences to further educate our patients throughout the entire recovery process.”


Mended Hearts is the largest heart patient support network in the world, with 20,000 members and 300 chapters. Recognized for their role in facilitating a positive patient-care experience, Mended Hearts partners with hospitals and cardiac rehab clinics to offer support through visiting programs, group meetings and educational forums. Mended Hearts inspires hope and improves quality of life for heart patients and their families through ongoing peer-to-peer support.


The Southern Region covers Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and Puerto Rico.

Georgia Attorney General Approves Partnership Between Emory Healthcare and DeKalb Medical

The Georgia Attorney General’s Office has announced the approval of the strategic partnership and integration of DeKalb Medical and Emory Healthcare, solidifying the unity of the two health systems. With this final regulatory approval, it is anticipated DeKalb Medical will officially become a part of the Emory Healthcare system on September 1, 2018.

“We are excited about today’s announcement from the Georgia Attorney General, which is a significant milestone for our two organizations,” says Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, president and CEO of Emory Healthcare. “By combining a community health system and an academic health system, the communities and patients cared for by Emory Healthcare and DeKalb Medical will experience an even stronger quality of care with more accessibility to providers and specialty care.”

The two health systems initiated their requests for a partnership in November 2017 through a formal Letter of Intent. The Federal Trade Commission approved the partnership in March 2018. The partnership application was then filed with the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, which has announced its decision.

“We have been working for several months with Emory Healthcare to forge a partnership that will position us to grow and meet our community’s needs for years to come,” says Bob Wilson, president and CEO of DeKalb Medical. “We are confident that being part of Emory Healthcare is the right choice for our community, our employees and our physicians, and are anxious to begin fully integrating into the Emory system.”

Both Emory Healthcare and DeKalb Medical have strong roots in the community and the state of Georgia. Emory has had a presence in DeKalb County for more than 100 years, with more than half of its employees residing in DeKalb and the surrounding vicinity. DeKalb Medical has been serving the region’s patients and families for more than 57 years.

DeKalb Medical is a not-for-profit health system consisting of three hospital campuses  with a combined 627 licensed beds. As part of the integration, DeKalb Medical’s hospital on North Decatur Road will be named Emory Decatur Hospital; DeKalb Medical Hillandale will be named Emory Hillandale Hospital; and DeKalb Medical Long Term Acute Care at Downtown Decatur will be named Emory Long Term Acute Care.

DeKalb Medical has 55 practice locations throughout DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, more than 800 doctors on its medical staff in nearly 50 specialties and 4,000 employees. Its long term acute care (LTAC) hospital is the only LTAC in the U.S. with three Joint Commission Gold Seal Disease-Specific Certifications in respiratory failure, wound care and acquired brain injury.

Emory Healthcare, a nonprofit organization, is the most comprehensive health system in Georgia, with seven hospitals and 200 provider locations in metro Atlanta and surrounding communities, including nearly 60 urgent care and MinuteClinics. It has more than 2,000 physician providers in 70-plus specialties, including more than 120 in primary care. With an additional 23 regional affiliate hospitals, Emory Healthcare has a footprint in more than 40 counties throughout the state.

Memorial Health Recognized by American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Memorial Health University Medical Center was recently granted a three-year renewal recognition for quality and safety by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), a leading gastrointestinal medical society. Memorial’s gastrointestinal center of excellence has been recognized by ASGE since 2015 and is one of more than 400 endoscopy units to be granted the recognition since 2009.

“It’s an honor to be recognized once again by ASGE for our efforts to enhance quality and safety in our endoscopy unit,” said Steven Carpenter, MD, medical director for Memorial’s gastrointestinal center of excellence. “Our team is dedicated to providing high-quality patient care for our patients and this recertification demonstrates our ongoing commitment to meeting ASGE requirements.”

The ASGE Endoscopy Unit Recognition Program honors endoscopy units that have demonstrated a commitment to patient safety and quality in endoscopy as evidenced by meeting the program’s rigorous criteria, which includes following the ASGE guidelines on privileging, quality assurance, endoscope reprocessing, CDC infection control guidelines and ensuring endoscopy staff competency. To be recognized by ASGE, a unit, through a peer-reviewed application process, must attest to the continued competence of all staff relative to their roles, demonstrate the adoption of unit policies specific to ongoing assessment of performance relative to key quality indicators, and attest that the unit has an established infrastructure and personnel dedicated to infection control and prevention.

ASGE is the profession’s leader in setting standards of excellence in endoscopy through its safety guidelines and the training of its members so that patients receive the best and safest care possible. The society continually reinforces the importance of quality among its members through member communications, such as emails and newsletters, and its courses, including "Improving Quality and Safety in Your Endoscopy Unit.”