GHA Member Hospital Happenings

Macon-Bibb County Welcomes Kurobe City Hospital Delegation for 15th Year

On October 15, Navicent Health and Mercer University School of Medicine welcomed six physicians, two nurse, and one medical tech from Kurobe City Hospital for the fifteenth year of a unique medical exchange between Macon-Bibb County and its sister city of Kurobe, Japan.

Each summer, between May and September, three physicians and two nurses from Navicent Health visit Kurobe City Hospital for two weeks each to share their knowledge and experience of the American healthcare system with young physicians and nurses at Kurobe City Hospital and to learn about the Japanese healthcare system. Then, between September and January, six resident physicians and one nurse from Kurobe City Hospital visit Navicent Health and Mercer University for four weeks to observe American physicians in action and experience American healthcare firsthand. 

To date, 68 residents, 13 nurses and four healthcare providers from Kurobe have visited Macon-Bibb County, and 45 doctors and 18 nurses from Macon-Bibb County have visited Kurobe.

“This has been a long-time partnership and exchange built on knowledge transfer for the mutual benefit of all partners. Beyond the formal goals of this partnership is a special bond which connects us with each other, a profound and meaningful cultural exchange,” said Dr. Ninfa M. Saunders, President and CEO of Navicent Health.

“Our residents, nurses and faculty were greatly inspired by your visit. When we started this program in 2003, the major purpose was to give assistance to our residents. That was the start of this exchange. Later, we expanded this program to the nurses and also the doctors. Now we are expanding this program to other providers such as pharmacists, medical engineers and therapists. We appreciate both Navicent Health and Mercer University,” said Dr. Hiroshi Tsuji of Kurobe Municipal Hospital, who accompanies the delegations on each visit as they commence their training and continue their education.

The medical exchange began in March 2003, when a delegation from Kurobe City Hospital visited Mercer University and The Medical Center, Navicent Health to discuss the possibility of setting up a medical exchange between the two cities. Plans were formalized on November 5, 2003 with a signing of the agreement between Dr. W. Douglas Skelton, Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, Mercer University; Dr. Ann C. Jobe, Dean, Mercer University School of Medicine; Dr. Louis Goolsby, Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs, Medical Center of Central Georgia; Mr. Yukikazu Ogino, Mayor of the City of Kurobe; and Dr. Eisuke Takazakura, Director-General, Kurobe City Hospital. Dr. T.J. Lin, Assistant Dean of the Mercer University School of Medicine, played a key role in facilitating the partnership.

The sister city relationship between Macon and Kurobe was established in 1977 with the support of YKK, whose manufacturing headquarters is located in Kurobe. YKK’s Atlanta office opened in 1970, making it one of the first Japanese companies to set up operations in Georgia. YKK’s Macon plant opened in 1974. YKK remains an active supporter of this sister city relationship, including the medical exchange.

Children's Hospital of Georgia Will Benefit from Savannah CMN Fund

Just a few months after the Children’s Hospital of Georgia kicked off its 20th birthday celebration, hospital leaders received a nice surprise from the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals organization.

“We were notified that the Children’s Hospital of Georgia was selected as the beneficiary of CMN funds raised in the 19 Georgia counties in the Savannah market,” said Lee Ann Liska, CEO of Augusta University Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Georgia. “We could not be more pleased by the generosity and timing of this ‘gift.’ This additional CMN funding will empower us to provide even more phenomenal care for children and families throughout Georgia and the Southeast.”

This means that Children’s Hospital of Georgia could receive an additional $700,000 per year through CMN programs and events in the Savannah market area. In addition, the Children’s Hospital of Georgia will benefit from the experience of Senior CMN Development Coordinator Kelly Claxton, who will continue her efforts in the Savannah area as an employee of Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

The catalyst for the change was the acquisition of Memorial Health in Savannah by Hospital Corporation of America, which includes Memorial Health’s Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital. Because HCA, is a for-profit company, the Willett Children’s Hospital is no longer eligible to receive CMN funding.

The not-for-profit Children’s Hospital of Georgia has been a CMN Hospitals member since 1985, 13 years before moving into its current award-winning facility which was designed by kids, for kids.

“Our Children’s Hospital provides the highest level of pediatric and neonatal intensive care and has the region’s only children’s heart surgery program and various pediatric specialists and subspecialists,” Liska said. “We are celebrating 20 years of Healing, Hope, and Miracles this year, none of which would be possible without the substantial support of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals organization and all those who contribute.”

Children’s Hospital of Georgia is one of several hospitals who applied for the Savannah CMN market. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Medical University of South Carolina’s Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital in Charleston also applied. St. Joseph's/Candler chose to endorse Children’s Hospital of Georgia rather than submit an application.

After a comparative analysis of the four hospitals, Children’s Hospital of Georgia was chosen to receive CMN funding from the 19 Georgia counties in the Savannah market, while MUSC Shawn Jenkins will benefit from CMN funds in the three South Carolina counties near Savannah.

 “With this additional funding and support, we are extremely excited at what the future holds for our hospital and those who come here for care,” Liska said. “This is an incredible victory for our patients and families at Children's Hospital of Georgia.”

Local Walmart and Sam's Club Associates, Customers and Members Raise $124,000 for The Children's Hospital at Piedmont Columbus Regional

Walmart and Sam’s Club associates, customers and members in Columbus and across the Plains with multiple stores in East Alabama put their money where the miracles are during the annual Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals fundraising campaign.

The Chattahoochee Valley raised $124,055 for The Children’s Hospital at Piedmont Columbus Regional. The effort was part of a national campaign for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals which resulted in over $36 million raised, putting the total raised since 1987 over the $1 billion mark.

“Research done by Engage for Good shows that the cumulative $1 billion in cash raised for CMN Hospitals over the years by Walmart and Sam’s Club represents the largest amount ever raised for a nonprofit by one company in North America,” said David Hessekiel, president of Engage for Good, a trade group that tracks cross-sector efforts to generate positive social and business impacts.

Donations poured in Aug. 27 to Oct. 7, as Walmart and Sam’s Club associates at 19 locations held various in-store fundraising activities such as dunking booths and hotdog sales and asked customers and members at the register to help kids live better.

“I am passionate and dedicated to raising money for Children’s Miracle Network that it brings joy to me daily and keeps me smiling so I encourage all of my friends and family to help support The Children’s Hospital at Piedmont Columbus Regional, your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital,” said D’vious Turner, Assistant Manager, Walmart Supercenter #4283 in Columbus, GA.

The donations will be used to support The Children’s Hospital at Piedmont Columbus Regional by funding state-of-the-art equipment for neonatal and pediatric services. Equipment and supplies needed for neonatal and pediatric patients are highly specialized and do not come in a ‘one size fits all’. The Children’s Hospital at Piedmont Columbus Regional serves Columbus and the surrounding 21 counties, treating over 60,000 pediatric patients a year.

“The impact of $1 billion raised by Walmart and Sam’s Club customers, members and associates is hard to fathom,” said John Lauck, president and CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “Because of their generosity, literally millions of kids across the U.S. and Canada are truly living better.”

Walmart and Sam's Club funds impact each of the 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, which treat one in 10 children across North America. Hospitals use the funds based on what they need most — typically providing lifesaving equipment and research, supporting top therapy programs and providing charitable care.

For more information on Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, visit:

Ghamande Named Chair of MCG Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Sharad Ghamande, executive vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, has been named department chair.

Ghamande, who also is chief of the department’s Section of Gynecologic Oncology and associate director for clinical research and trials at the Georgia Cancer Center, begins his new job as chair Nov. 1.

“Over his nearly 20 years of service to MCG, Dr. Ghamande has demonstrated leadership in making MCG and the Georgia Cancer Center a destination treatment facility for women battling  gynecological cancers,” says Dr. David Hess, MCG Dean. “He has helped bring numerous clinical trials to campus, many for women who have failed standard therapies. He is a fantastic physician, investigator and educator and perhaps most importantly, a true patient advocate who serves in community support organizations and works to make sure every patient has knowledge of and access to the best possible treatments for their disease.”

Ghamande is the principal investigator for the Georgia Cancer Center’s five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute to lead the state’s only cancer research program focused on better access to clinical trials and cancer treatments for minority and underserved patients. The NCI Community Oncology Research Program – Minority Underserved Sites (NCORP-MU) program helps physicians at the cancer center partner with other institutions around the state to increase awareness of, and participation in, NCI-sponsored clinical trials and cancer care delivery research, particularly among minority and underserved populations.

As the only site of its kind in Georgia, and one of just 12 selected nationally, the Georgia Cancer Center–led consortium contributes to the design, conduct and translation of the national NCORP research agenda. The consortium, along with community partners, also helps set priorities for community-based cancer research and works to address the historic barriers to minority and underserved patients participating in clinical trials and other important cancer research.

Ghamande, along with Dr. Bunja Rungruang, associate professor in the Section of Gynecologic Oncology, helped establish the state’s first gynecologic oncology fellowship program in 2017 to train the next generation of physicians who will diagnose and treat the cancers that affect 91,000 and kill 30,000 women each year in the United States alone.

He is a member of the NCI’s Disparity Working Group of Clinical Trials, the NCORP representative on the NCI National Committee for Improving Clinical Trials Accrual and Georgia’s legislation action representative for the Society for Gynecologic Oncology (SGO). He is a member of the Phase I and Cervix Committees for the NCI’s NRG Group. He has been consistently named among America’s Top Doctors for Cancer® and Best Doctors in America.®

Ghamande is a board member of the Georgia Society of Clinical Oncologists (GASCO) and the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (CORE).

Active in the community, he is the founder and president of the CSRA Gynecological Cancer Support Group and serves on the board of the Lydia Project for Women, which provides free support services to women anywhere facing any type of cancer.

He earned his medical degree from India’s Bombay University and completed his obstetrics and gynecology residency at Boston Medical Center and Boston University and his gynecologic oncology fellowship at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York.

Islands Practice Welcomes New Internal Medicine Specialist

Memorial Health University Physicians | Adult Primary Care Islands recently welcomed Dr. Rush Brown. He joins Dr. Adrienne Fabrizio and Nurse Practitioner Angela Mixon in the practice, which provides healthcare services for adults 18 and older.

The practice, located at 1001 Memorial Lane on Whitemarsh Island, is part of Memorial Health’s 34-practice network of primary and specialty care physicians in southeast Georgia and southern South Carolina.

A native of Greenville, SC, Brown earned his medical degree and Master of Health Administration degree from the University of South Carolina in Columbia. He did his residency training in internal (adult) medicine at Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center in Greenville, SC. He is board certified in internal medicine.

Before joining Memorial Health, Brown was in private practice in Pensacola, FL. Previously, he was an instructor on the faculty of Florida State University School of Medicine in Tallahassee.

Brown is now accepting new adult patients at MHUP Adult Primary Care Islands. Learn more at

St. Mary's Conference Provides Useful Info for EMS Personnel

St. Mary's Health Care System will host a free educational conference for emergency medical services personnel on Thursday, Nov.1, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Mary's Hospital, 1230 Baxter St., Athens.

St. Mary's holds free EMS Conferences twice a year to provide useful and relevant real-world information for EMTs, paramedics and first responders throughout Northeast Georgia. Others who respond to health emergencies or who work in healthcare also are welcome.

Continuing education credits for EMS personnel will be available through the Georgia Office of EMS and Trauma for hours attended. Breakfast, lunch and refreshments will be provided. Free parking will be available in Lot B on the Baxter Street side of the hospital.

Featured speakers will be:

·         Clay Chappell, MD, interventional cardiologist with Oconee Heart and Vascular Center and medical director of St. Mary's Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. Topic: "Case Review and Cardiac Services Offered by St. Mary's."

·         Gaylord Lopez, PharmD, Director, Georgia Poison Control Center. Topic: "Things That Make You Go Hmmmm... A Day in the Life of the Georgia Poison Control Center."

·         Neil Woodall, MD, neurosurgeon, Georgia Neurological Surgery & Comprehensive Spine. Topic: "Update on Interventional Stroke Treatment and Case Reviews."

·         Andrew Ke, MD, Athens Hospitalist Services. Topic: "The Healthy Medic."

·         Aaron Carr, MD, general surgeon, Athens General and Colorectal Surgeons. Topic: "Trauma: A Surgeon's Perspective."

To help with planning, registration is requested. To reserve your place, please contact John Sartain, EMS liaison, by Oct. 29 at 706.389.3986 or

Memorial Health Heart Clinic Recognized by American Heart Association

Memorial Health University Medical Center (MHUMC) has earned a place in the American Heart Association roster of hospitals recognized for achievement in the Get With The Guidelines®–Heart Failure healthcare quality program. The list of award-winning hospitals appears in a 2018 U.S. News & World Report "Best Hospitals" issue. MHUMC is a Gold Plus award winner in heart failure care.

“We know how valuable guideline-driven care is to our heart failure patients," said Dr. Kenneth Hardigan, director of MHUMC’s Heart Clinic. "Everyone at our hospital is proud to be recognized for our efforts and appreciative of the support and tools provided through Get With The Guidelines."

The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, believes everyone who has heart disease or a stroke should receive treatment at a hospital with the resources to correctly and consistently make time-critical decisions. This recognition demonstrates MHUMC’s high commitment to following the guidelines and improving patient outcomes.

Get With the Guidelines – Heart Failure was developed by the American Heart Association to help healthcare professionals align heart failure care with the most up-to-date scientific treatment guidelines.  Heart failure treatment guidelines include aggressive therapies and medication plans that can improve patient care and outcomes. Hospitals must follow these measures at a set level for a designated period of time to be eligible for achievement awards. 

MHUMC was also included on the Target: Heart FailureSM Honor Roll. Target: Heart Failure provides healthcare professionals with resources and materials to help them advance heart failure awareness, prevention, treatment and recovery.

American Heart Association Get With The Guidelines offers a suite of hospital-based quality programs addressing a spectrum of cardiovascular conditions and stroke. Numerous published scientific studies demonstrate that adherence to Get With The Guidelines quality measures can lead to better patient outcomes, including increased survival.

HCA Healthcare Donates $1 Million to American Red Cross for Hurricane Michael Relief

HCA Healthcare (NYSE: HCA), a leading healthcare provider with 178 hospitals and approximately 1,800 sites of care in 20 states and the United Kingdom, today announced a donation of $1 million to the American Red Cross to assist those affected by Hurricane Michael.

HCA Healthcare has 45 hospitals in Florida, including Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center in Panama City. The hospital sustained significant damage and we are in the process of evaluating the impact on services. Currently, the emergency room at Gulf Coast Regional is open.

“We are seeing firsthand the devastation Hurricane Michael has caused to communities in the Florida Panhandle where many of our patients and thousands of our colleagues live,” said HCA Healthcare chairman and chief executive officer Milton Johnson. “I’m humbled by the way our colleagues in Florida are caring for our patients, the community and each other, and we’re honored to support the Red Cross’ relief efforts in Florida.”

Last month, HCA Healthcare provided $500,000 in support to the Red Cross for Hurricane Florence relief efforts in the Carolinas. Over the last several years, HCA Healthcare has provided financial support for relief efforts after several natural disasters, including Hurricane Harvey last year.

“The generosity of partners such as HCA Healthcare makes it possible for the Red Cross to respond at a moment’s notice with volunteers, equipment and supplies, powering our work to help people affected by Hurricane Michael in the hardest hit areas,” Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross said. “We are profoundly grateful for HCA Healthcare’s remarkable support to deliver shelter, food and hope for people in their darkest hours.”

HCA Healthcare, which has approximately 6,700 colleagues in the area spanning from Lake City, Fla. to Pensacola, confirmed the safety of all of colleagues immediately following the storm. In addition, the company has established three shelters—in Panama City, Niceville and Fort Walton Beach—for the hundreds of HCA Healthcare colleagues whose homes were significantly damaged by the storm. The company is providing pay continuation for affected HCA Healthcare colleagues in the Panama City area. HR staff is onsite in the affected areas to provide support to colleagues.

The HCA Hope Fund—an employee-run, employee-supported 501(c)(3) charity that provides financial aid and resources to employees after extended illness, injury, disaster or other special situations—is providing grants to HCA Healthcare colleagues affected by the recent storms. Since its inception, The HCA Hope Fund has provided nearly 31,000 grants totaling more than $46 million in assistance to HCA Healthcare colleagues. 

For more information about The HCA Hope Fund, visit

SGMC Promotes Luke and Ramirez

South Georgia Medical Center recently announced that two long-term employees have received promotions.

R. Don Luke was named Director of Operations for the Smith Northview Campus and Trinh B. Ramirez was named Director of Business Intelligence.

Beginning his career at SGMC as a phlebotomist in 1989, Luke has worked as the histology supervisor in the main lab for 23 years.  In his new role, Luke will provide administrative oversight of the day-to-day operations for all services lines located at the Smith Northview Campus/Outpatient Plaza and Urgent Care.  

Luke received his Bachelor’s degree in Management from Valdosta State University and completed an MBA in Healthcare Administration at VSU.

In his spare time, Luke says he is a lifelong learner. He loves books and computers.  Don is married to Jana Luke and they are parents to four children.

Trinh Ramirez began her career in health care in 2005 and has worked in numerous roles from unit clerk to charge nurse.  After receiving her nursing degree in 2008, she completed a Bachelors of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Accounting and MSN in Nursing Informatics.  She joined the Internal Audit department at SGMC in 2012.  Ramirez brings a wealth of knowledge in both accounting and nursing to her new role that will include financial planning for the health system and business intelligence/data analysis.  

Aside from her duties at SGMC, Ramirez is a US Air Force Reservist Nurse and is always trained and ready to serve our country.  Trinh is married to Loyd Ramirez and they have three children.

SGMC congratulates these employees for assuming these important leadership roles.

SGMC is Now a Provider for CareSource

South Georgia Medical Center, its campuses and affiliates are now providers for the CareSource program for Georgia Medicaid recipients.

As a provider for the CareSource, local Medicaid patients will be able to use a wider selection of SGMC’s service lines and clinics. According to CareSource, there are 1300 individuals who are covered by CareSource that live within a 60 mile radius of the SGMC Main Campus.

“We are pleased to be a provider in the CareSource network,” said SGMC COO Dr. David Schott. “CareSource serves Georgia families enrolled in the Peachcare for Kids program, Georgia Medicaid and women enrolled in the Planning for Healthy Babies® program.”

As a service provider, area residents will no longer have to travel to neighboring communities for care.

Founded in 1989, CareSource is one of the nation’s largest Medicaid managed care plans. Headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, the company has built a legacy of providing quality health care coverage for Medicaid consumers. 

Putnam General Hospital Recognized by GHA for Advances in Patient Safety

Putnam General Hospital in Eatonton has been named to the Georgia Hospital Association’s (GHA) Chairman’s Honor Roll for its success in meeting target improvement rates for reducing hospital-acquired conditions/infections (HAC and HAI) and readmissions over the past two years. The Chairman’s Honor Roll represents top-ranked hospitals that have successfully implemented national standards of care to reach the highest percentage of their target rates related to HACs and HAIs.

“We are pleased to recognize Putnam General Hospital’s commitment to patient safety,” said Earl Rogers, president of GHA. “Their outstanding efforts to prevent infections and reduce readmissions ensure that every patient receives the best health care possible.”

Putnam General Hospital also reported zero harm for 80 percent of their applicable measures for 20 months or more.

“We constantly strive to maintain the highest standard of patient care,” said Alan Horton, Chief Executive Officer of Putnam General Hospital.  “Our achievement in this area is a testament to the dedication of our great staff members who ensure the safety of every patient who comes through our doors.”

Peachford Hospital Employees Participate in the Atlanta NAMI Walk

The Employee Council at Peachford Hospital is a group of employees from different departments who are responsible for upholding high standards of service excellence and promoting employee engagement.  Over the last year, the Council held several fundraisers to support NAMI – the National Alliance for Mental Illness.  A “Spare Change for Change” coin contest held during the summer raised over $1,400 and several Jeans and Jersey Days were sold to staff who wanted to show-off their favorite sports team and support NAMI at the same time.  Employees were also encouraged to purchase #breakthestigma bracelets as another way to raise awareness.

The Council’s efforts made a difference on Saturday October 6, when Peachford Employees and their families participated in the Atlanta NAMI Walk, held at Clark Atlanta University, to raise awareness and help break the stigma of mental illness.  Peachford Hospital was a sponsor of the 5k Walk and everyone was pleased with the turnout at the event.   Peachford looks forward to continuing our partnership with NAMI as we all work together to help those who need help.

St. Mary's Hospice Offers Healing Grief Workshop

St. Mary’s Hospice Services is now accepting applications for its Healing Grief workshop, a free 6-week program for adults who have lost a loved one through death.

The group will meet from 3-4:30 p.m. each Thursday except Thanksgiving Day from Nov. 1 to Dec. 13 at St. Mary's Highland Hills Village conference room, 1660 Jennings Mill Road, Watkinsville. In this private setting, participants will learn ways to better cope with the death of their loved one in a supportive group environment.

The professionally facilitated group takes an educational and supportive approach to healing. Topics will include understanding grief; remembering, accepting and expressing feelings; stress and coping; anniversaries, and memorializing.

Healing Grief is free but participants need to complete an application in order to enroll. To request an application or for more information, call St. Mary’s Hospice at 706.389.2273 or, toll-free, 1.800.822.3381.