GHA Member Hospital Happenings

Local Physician Advises Caution for Patients Affected by Recent FDA Blood Pressure Medication Recall

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recalled the third blood pressure medication in less than a month, citing possible contamination. Patients are understandably worried, but a Savannah physician says the first step is not to stop taking your blood pressure medicine.

“Stopping your blood pressure medication could cause immediate effects from uncontrolled hypertension,” said Dr. Rush Brown, an internal medicine doctor at Memorial Health University Physicians | Adult Primary Care Islands.

Those effects include heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure and stroke, Brown says. “The risk from continuing to take an affected medication is low,” he adds.

The FDA has announced the recalls of three medications used to treat high blood pressure. In October, the manufacturers of irbesartan and irbesartan tablets (brand name: Avapro) voluntarily recalled certain lots due to trace amounts of NDEA, a carcinogen. On November 8, makers of losartan potassium hydrochlorathiazide (brand name: Hyzaar) recalled specific lots of the drug, which they say may contain NDEA.

Brown advises patients who have been prescribed these drugs to contact their pharmacy to determine if their medicine is affected.

“If your pills are part of the recall, ask your pharmacist if a substitution is available from a non-recalled lot of the same medication,” he adds.

If a substitution is not available, Brown recommends patients contact their physician’s office for an alternative medication regimen.

Putnam General Hospital Holds 3rd Annual Breakfast With Santa

Putnam General Hospital is holding the 3rd Annual Breakfast With Santa on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at Putnam General Hospital from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM.This event is sponsored by the PGH Auxiliary and PGH Foundation.

This year, tickets will again be $5.00 per child which will include a holiday themed meal, visit and picture with Santa and entrance into the “Secret Santa Shop” where elementary children are able to purchase gifts for the entire family from $1.00 to $5.00.

Marsha Grimes, Foundation Director stated that again this year, the “Secret Santa Shop” was expanded to include even more gifts than in the past.She stated that both of the previous years, we came close to depleting our gifts because the event continues to get bigger.This year, Auxiliary members Joan Millines and Deborah Holle have over 300 gifts for the children to choose from.Ms. Grimes remarked that sometimes our little shoppers would like to buy a little something for themselves as well, and with most gifts ranging around $2.00, our shoppers are able to save a little something so they can buy for themselves.

All gifts bought in the shop are eligible for wrapping by all the “PGH Auxiliary Elves”.Ms. Grimes stated that the PGH Auxiliary has been working hard to get all the gifts priced and all materials for wrapping purchased.The Foundation will again be taking pictures with Santa, and makings sure the parents receive a copy or email.

Adults accompanying children will be able to purchase the breakfast for $2.00 each at the door.Advance tickets for the children are suggested this year.Tickets can be purchased in the lobby at PGH or Marsha Grimes.For more information, please call Marsha Grimes at 706.923.2028.

Phoebe Launches OB/GYN Hospitalist Program and Emergency Department

As part of an overall strategy to expand and advance its Women & Children’s Department, Phoebe recently launched an OB/GYN hospitalist program.  An experienced team of six board-certified obstetricians and gynecologists are now providing expert care for mothers-to-be at Phoebe’s main campus 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.

“This program will set Phoebe apart from all other women and children’s departments in our region and will provide the safest and best care available to expectant mothers in southwest Georgia,” said William Sewell, MD, Phoebe Medical Director of Women & Children’s Services.

These highly-skilled physicians will not replace the services of an individual patient’s obstetrician, but will support and enhance those services.  The OB/GYN hospitalists provide emergency care prior to the arrival of a patient’s physician, support the care of high-risk pregnancy patients and deliver babies for patients who do not have an obstetrician and for those whose obstetricians are unable to make it to the hospital for the delivery.

“We are thrilled to bring our expertise and dedication to caring for mothers and babies to families here in southwest Georgia,” said Davis Sullivan, MD, OB/GYN Hospitalist Program Medical Director.  “We will be here to provide prompt, round-the-clock care to women in labor and pregnant women who may be experiencing difficulties, and this program underscores Phoebe’s commitment to the quality of their maternal care program.”

Phoebe’s OB/GYN hospitalist program is offered in partnership with OB Hospitalist Group, which staffs and manages programs throughout the United States.  As part of the program, Phoebe opened an OB/GYN Emergency Department.  When expectant mothers arrive at Phoebe’s main ED, they are directed to the new emergency area in the Labor & Delivery unit where they receive care from these dedicated OB/GYN specialists. 

The program proved its benefits in its very first day.  Just twelve hours after the OB/GYN ED opened, an expectant mother arrived at the main emergency room in serious distress.  She was immediately transferred to the OB/GYN ED and seen right away by Dr. Sullivan.  Within 25 minutes of the patient’s arrival at Phoebe, Dr. Sullivan completed the high-risk delivery, and the mother and baby are doing well.

“The positive outcome for that family shows staffing Phoebe with hospital-based OB/GYN physicians enhances patient safety and improves the coordination and efficiency of care,” said Joe Austin, Phoebe Chief Operating Officer.  “It also should give our patients peace of mind since an OB/GYN will be available at all times to provide care.  OB Hospitalist Group has a proven track record of success.  They provided us with an outstanding group of physician candidates from which we chose a great team,” Austin added. 

Phoebe is also beginning a pediatric hospitalist program to ensure children receive outstanding continuity of care during their entire hospital stay.  The hospital recently initiated a placenta donation partnership with telaGen, LLC, allowing new mothers to donate their birth tissue which can be used in many healing therapies to help other patients.  Since July, we have collected more than 100 placenta donations.  Phoebe also recently began a $4.5M renovation of its mother/baby unit.  “All of these projects clearly show our commitment to women and children,” Dr. Sewell said.  “We will continue to make major investments into projects that will enhance our service to those patients.”

On average, about 2,400 babies are delivered each year at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.  In 2017, Phoebe became only the second Georgia hospital outside metro Atlanta to earn Baby Friendly status.

Gwinnett Medical Center recognizes Veterans with Congressman Rob Woodall

On November 9th, Gwinnett Medical Center (GMC)-Lawrenceville hosted a formal flag raising ceremony to celebrate Veterans Day.  Congressman Rob Woodall, active serviceman and GMC associate Chelsea Driver, and GMC President & CEO Phil Wolfe were in attendance as cadets from the Civil Air Patrol raised the flag during a ceremonial performance. Before arriving at GMC, the flag was previously flown over the US Capitol and a military hospital in Kuwait. This was one of a number of events leading up to Veterans Day, demonstrating GMC’s commitment to creating a military-friendly workplace and recognizing the contributions of members of the US military.

Navicent Health Volunteer Program Among 19 Nationally Recognized

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has honored 19 hospital volunteer programs with its 2018 Hospital Awards for Volunteer Excellence (HAVE). Navicent Health’s volunteer-led art therapy program for cancer patients is among those recognized nationally for positively impacting the lives of patients and communities through volunteer service.

Navicent Health’s art therapy program is a 2018 finalist in the “In-Service” award category, along with Mayo Clinic’s “OR Suite Volunteer Program” (Jacksonville, Fla.) and The Valley Hospital’s “Reiki for Staff Volunteer Program” (Ridgewood, N.J.). Other award categories include “Community Service,” “ Community Outreach,” and “Fundraising.”

“Our volunteers play an integral role at Navicent Health, assisting patients, staff and visitors in a variety of ways and also raising funds for patient-centered causes. Our art therapy volunteers are shining examples of what it means to give of your time, your talent and yourself for the benefit of others. We are honored that the American Hospital Association has called national attention to their efforts,” said Dr. Ninfa M. Saunders, President and CEO of Navicent Health.

Established in 2012, the art therapy program has a goal of helping cancer patients cope with the stress of diagnosis, treatment and recovery through artistic expression. Volunteer Mary Parks implemented and manages this program, recruiting and training a team of volunteers to provide art therapy for cancer patients. Although the program began as a service for patients receiving chemotherapy at Navicent Health’s Infusion Center, it has since expanded to include classes for cancer patients at Wellness Center, Navicent Health and a support group for patients and their loved ones at Peyton Anderson Cancer Center, Navicent Health. Parks and her team have also provided therapy sessions at community events and fundraisers.

“Art therapy takes the participants to a wonderful place, and gets their mind off their cancer. We are often able to introduce something new to their lives – many have not picked up a paint brush since elementary school, but will take the skills they learn in art therapy home and continue to paint as they cope with cancer diagnosis and treatment. In their classes, they also mention how wonderful it is to fellowship with others walking the same journey. There are just so many benefits to this wonderful program,” said Parks.

Art therapy provides each cancer patient opportunities for catharsis and comradery, as patients and survivors cope with the stresses caused by cancer. Data obtained at Navicent Health’s Infusion Center has shown patients’ blood pressure drops significantly as they begin working with an art therapist, allowing treatment to be more effective.

“The program has been a tremendous success and a benefit for patients, Navicent Health, and the community at large. We have phenomenal volunteers who are dedicated to teaching and leading our patients and their loved ones in multiple settings. This program would not be possible without their efforts,” said Ron Lazar, Director of Oncology Services at Navicent Health.

Those interested in joining Navicent Health’s volunteer team may visit for information and an application. 

The AHA HAVE Awards Program is in its thirty-fifth year and highlights the extraordinary efforts of volunteers and volunteer programs, as well as the value and positive impact their contributions have on the patients, hospitals, health systems, staff and communities they serve. In addition to acknowledging the value of volunteerism to individual lives and institutions, the awards program is designed to:

  • Highlight volunteers services that are engaged in improving healthcare.
  • Encourage service that exceeds expectations as a result of innovation, creativity and leadership.
  • Promote visibility and goodwill toward the hospital or health care system.
  • Promote collaboration among provider organizations and community service entities to improve the quality of life of local citizens.

Nominations are open to organizations that are institutional members of AHA. The awards honor specific volunteer service areas or programs – not volunteer departments as a whole. To learn more about the awards, please click here

Blood Donors Receive Free T-Shirt November 21

Wayne Memorial Hospital is hosting its next blood drive Wednesday, November 21, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., in the bloodmobile adjacent to the exterior entrance to The Café at Wayne Memorial. Appointments may be made by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or visiting and entering “wmh” as the sponsor code.  Walk-ins are also welcomed. Donors may streamline their appointments and save up to 15 minutes by visiting to complete their pre-donation questions. Free long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirts will be given out to donors while supplies last.

The American Red Cross mission is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. Wayne Memorial Hospital, whose mission is to provide high quality health care services to all patients, built a state-of-the-art facility in 2007. It is the third largest employer in Wayne County with 500 employees, 84 beds and is a two-time winner of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals Small Hospital of the Year Award. 

Gwinnett Medical Center's James Williams Named A.L.I. 2017-18 Athletic Trainer of the Year

Gwinnett Medical Center’s James Williams has been named the Association of Independent Institutions’ 2017-18 Athletic Trainer of the Year. Williams is also the head athletic trainer at Georgia Gwinnett College. This award is from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) colleges and winners are voted on by other collegiate level athletic trainers. This is the first time he has garnered this award.

"GGC is fortunate to have some of the best athletic trainers in the country,” said GGC Associate Vice President of Athletics Dr. Darin S. Wilson. “This A.I.I. recognition is well-deserved for the outstanding job that James does on a daily basis. James is the ultimate professional who goes above and beyond his normal job duties to treat our student-athletes with the utmost care."

“We value James’ contributions and knowledge he brings in this role and are proud of this recognition,” said Nish Patel, Vice President of Operations at GMC–Duluth. “As a not for profit hospital, it’s important that we remain relevant to the community in which we serve.  Based on that and the role that athletics play in our community, it’s paramount that we continue to place certified, skilled trainers such as James into local college and school settings to empower young athletes.”

With over 19 years of experience in athletic training, Williams served as the former assistant athletic trainer for the Cleveland Browns (2006-09) and the Atlanta Falcons (2010). In 2012, he joined Georgia Gwinnett College’s athletic department through Gwinnett Medical Center’s Sports Medicine Program. Williams and his staff provided athletic training support as GGC hosted four A.I.I. championship events during the 2017-18 seasons.

Williams is also the 2013 Gwinnett Medical Center Athletic Trainer of the Year and has recently been nominated for the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Healthcare Professional of the Year award.

St. Mary's Reaccredited as Chest Pain Center with PCI

St. Mary’s Health Care System has again received full accreditation as a Chest Pain Center with primary PCI – the technical term for emergency heart attack care with balloon angioplasty and stent implantation – from the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

“This accreditation demonstrates that St. Mary’s heart care program continues to meet the highest standards for heart care in the nation,” said Montez Carter, St. Mary’s President and CEO. “This recognition is possible because of the tremendous ongoing dedication to excellence and teamwork demonstrated by our medical staff, hospital staff and our partners in EMS.”

PCI is percutaneous coronary intervention. It's a life-saving procedure that can reopen the clogged blood vessel that is causing a heart attack. A thin, flexible tube called a catheter is guided through blood vessels from the leg or wrist into the heart. The cardiologist uses the catheter to deploy a tiny balloon that pushes aside the cholesterol and inflamed tissues blocking the blood vessel. Then a medicated stent, a device similar to a tiny chain-link spring, is inserted to keep the artery open.

“Our PCI team is available within 30 minutes or less, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays,” said Clay Chappell, MD, medical director of St. Mary's Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. “By quickly restoring blood flow to the affected coronary artery, we are able to save lives, minimize damage to the heart, and preserve the maximum possible level of function and quality of life.”

According to the ACC, hospitals that have earned Chest Pain Center with primary PCI accreditation have demonstrated exceptional competency in treating patients with heart attack symptoms and have primary PCI available 24/7 every day of the year. As required to meet the criteria of the accreditation designation, they have streamlined their systems from admission all the way through to post-discharge care, including recommendations and assistance in patient lifestyle changes. In addition, accredited hospitals have formal agreements with other facilities that regularly refer heart attack patients to their facility for primary PCI.

"St. Mary's has demonstrated its commitment to providing Northeast Georgia with excellent heart care," said Phillip D. Levy, MD, FACC, chair of the ACC Accreditation Management Board. "ACC Accreditation Services is proud to award St. Mary's with Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI Accreditation."

Hospitals receiving this accreditation must take part in processes that involve a rigorous onsite review, gap analysis, and action planning for continuous improvement. Strategies for continuous improvement include implementing guidelines and standards as they are recommended at the national level and adopting best practices in the care of patients with signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

“Quality heart care requires the integration of the emergency department with EMS, as well as the close collaboration of departments across our entire continuum of care,” Dr. Chappell said. “In a cardiac emergency, time is muscle, so every minute matters. Through our collaborative efforts, we routinely do better than the national recommendations. That’s a real accomplishment and something we are very proud of.”

“Top-quality emergency care begins the moment EMS arrives on the scene,” said Lewis Earnest, MD, medical director of St. Mary's Emergency Department. “We could not have achieved this accreditation without the active involvement of Robby Atkins of National EMS and the hard work – day-in and day-out – of personnel from all of our area EMS providers. They are on the front lines. We urge everyone who might be having a heart attack to call 911 immediately.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 730,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year. The most common symptom for both men and women is chest pain or discomfort. Other heart attack symptoms may include tingling or discomfort in one or both arms, back, shoulder, neck or jaw; shortness of breath; cold sweat; unusual tiredness; heartburn-like feeling; nausea or vomiting; sudden dizziness and fainting. Women are more likely than men to have atypical symptoms.

As required by the ACC for Chest Pain Center accreditation, St. Mary’s offers a continuum of services before, during and after discharge for chest pain, including:

  • Early Heart Attack Care education to inform the community about early warning signs of heart attack.
  • Intensive care and step-down care with round-the-clock inpatient care at St. Mary’s Hospital.
  • Cardiac imaging and diagnostics to provide vital information for diagnosing heart problems, including cardiac MRI, CT scanning, nuclear medicine, echocardiography and stress testing.
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation with education and exercise to improve quality of life and reduce the risk of another cardiac event.
Device implantation and follow-up, including cardiac monitors, defibrillators and 
  • pacemakers.
  • Heart failure care, including lifestyle improvement, education, device therapy and in-home monitoring, for patients with weakened hearts.
  • Electrophysiology to diagnose and treat the causes of abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Cardiology services to provide outpatient lifelong cardiac care through Oconee Heart and Vascular Center and Northeast Cardiology, with office locations in Athens, Oconee, Greensboro, Monroe and Lavonia.

SGMC Unveils Healer's Touch Statue to Honor Nurses

Last week, SGMC unveiled a statue, called the Healer's Touch, which now sits in the main hospital entrance. The statue serves to raise awareness of the hospital’s DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing program and is a larger version of the ones given to honorees.

A little over two years ago, SGMC implemented the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing program. This program gives patients and their family members, or fellow nurses or physicians, the opportunity to nominate a nurse who goes above and beyond their call of duty.

The not-for-profit DAISY Foundation was established by family members in memory of J. Patrick Barnes. Patrick died at the age of 33 in late 1999 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. The care Patrick and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired this unique means of thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.

SGMC’s DAISY program is led by a committee of members from various departments across the organization, who volunteer to bring awareness to the program, judge nominations and award honorees. To date, SGMC's program has received over 600 nominations and recognized 14 honorees.

DAISY awards are presented monthly in front of the nurse’s colleagues, physicians, patients, and visitors. Each honoree receives a certificate commending her or him for being an "Extraordinary Nurse” and a beautiful sculpture called A Healer’s Touch, hand-carved by artists of the Shona Tribe in Africa. Recipients also receive a bouquet of daisies donated by local flower shops.