Category Archives: GRHealth

GRHealth news and information

Care Facilitation Division goes live

On July 1, the new Care Facilitation Division in the Georgia Regents Medical Center embarked on an initiative to redesign their current care management services, and its administrative director, Gregory Oliver, said the division promises to bring more efficiency to the way the hospital interacts with patients, families and physicians.

The new Care Facilitation Division was created through the Philips partnership and encompasses case management, social work, utilization review and bed management.

One of the keys to ensuring a better patient experience is the creation of the nurse care coordinator, a new role aimed at creating a more proactive approach to facilitate patient care and patient flow throughout their episode of care.

“In today’s world at GRU, the functions of discharge planning, utilization review and patient placement are separate,” Oliver said. “This leads to a disconnect among functions and a lack of a global view of the patient’s episode of care resulting in inefficiencies in the planning process, progression of care and payor communications.”

Upon admission, the care coordinator will see a patient at the beside and interview that person in order to assess needs so that the patient has a safe and efficient discharge as well as correspond with payors to ensure authorization. Consequently, that new, more individualized care should translate into a better experience for the patient with a clear understanding of his/her financial responsibility.

“It will help improve our patient satisfaction and quality of care,” Oliver said. “This is because the patient has a single point of contact who possesses the clinical and financial knowledge associated with their current hospital stay with the goal being to restore the patient to the highest level of health as efficiently and quick as possible”.

Oliver said this more collaborative approach represents a move away from traditional management practices and toward a more proactive approach to the planning of patient care.

Grub for GRU on Sept. 24

Mark Your Calendars!

Thursday, September 24, 2015 is GRUB for GRU Day in Augusta.

Please make plans to eat at local participating restaurants on September 24 and 10% of all proceeds that day will be given back to our university as part of the IGRU campaign.

Get more info at

Participating Restaurants include:

Ø  PeachWave Frozen Yogurt

Ø  FatMan’s Café

Ø  Firehouse Subs (Walton Way)

Ø  Buffalo Wild Wings

Ø  Wild Wings Café

Ø  Yo Pizza

Ø  Belair Doughnuts

Ø  Subway (Central Ave)

Ø  Beamie’s at the River

Ø  Pita Pit

Ø  Farmhaus Burger

Ø  Craft & Vine

Ø  Sunrise Grill (North Augusta)

Ø  Village Deli

Ø  Mellow Mushroom (Downtown)

Ø  Shane’s Rib Shack

Ø  Soy Noodle House

Ø  Atlanta Bread Company

Ø  Wifesaver (Furys Ferry and North Leg Rd)

Ø  The Pizza Joint (Downtown)

We look forward to seeing everyone eating out this Thursday as we all GRUB for GRU!

Columbia County hospital update

The following email was sent on Monday, September 21, to members of the GRU and GRHealth community by Shawn Vincent, vice president of Partnerships, International Healthcare and Strategic Affiliations

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to inform you that today the Superior Court of Georgia dismissed the lawsuit filed by Doctors Hospital challenging the validity of the Department of Community Health’s decision to grant a Certificate of Need to Georgia Regents Medical Center to build a 100-bed hospital in Columbia County.  Our plan includes the design of a state-of-the-art, high-touch, high-tech community hospital to meet the health and wellness needs of Columbia County and surrounding communities.

As you may recall, Doctors Hospital filed the lawsuit claiming that DCH acted outside its scope last November in granting the CON. In dismissing the case, the court said that Doctors had filed the suit prematurely since the administrative process at DCH has not concluded.

Today’s announcement is another positive step in our efforts in Columbia County.

We still await a final decision on the appeals filed to DCH by Doctors and University hospitals contesting the CON being awarded to us. Those hearings wrapped up in Atlanta in late June, and we hope to hear from DCH soon.

We remain confident in our efforts and in the Department of Community Health and its CON process.

While these hearings are time-consuming, they have given us additional opportunities to emphasize the unique attributes of our plan – including choosing Grovetown as the location and capitalizing on our expertise in trauma and medical education.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you again for your continued support. This entire process would not have been possible without our dedicated faculty and staff and the involvement of the community.

We will continue to keep you informed as we take the steps to move our Columbia County hospital project forward.


Shawn P. Vincent, Sr.

Vice President of Partnerships, International Healthcare and Strategic Affiliations

Register now for the Jaguar Jaunt

Whether you’re training for a marathon, looking for competition or just interested in a family-friendly run, join us on Saturday, Oct. 10 for the 2015 Jaguar Jaunt 5K.

Part of the IGRU campaign, this run will help support the areas of greatest need within the Georgia Regents University system.

Race registration begins at 7 a.m. at the Maxwell House on the Summerville Campus. The race itself starts at 8 a.m.

GRU student registration is $15. For the rest of the community, registration is $25 before Oct. 4 and $30 from Oct.4 to race day. All forms of registration include a race t-shirt.

For more information, including a link to register online, visit the Jaguar Jaunt site by clicking here.

SAMHSA grant trains students to treat substance abuse

1-in-4 adults exceed the safe drinking limits set forth by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol consumption is linked to more than 60 chronic health conditions and is responsible for nearly 80,000 deaths per year.

But alcohol isn’t the only problem.

The estimated total cost of substance abuse in the U.S. alone amounts to $600 billion annually.

It’s safe to say, then, that substance abuse is a serious problem. However, outside of psychiatry, few health professional training programs pay serious attention to the root of patients’ alcohol or drug abuse.

Dr. Aaron Johnson, associate professor in the Institute of Public and Preventive Health, is looking to change that.

With the aid of a recent grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Johnson hopes to begin training students in health professional programs to identify and address unhealthy alcohol and drug use in their patients and clients.

One of 62 training grants recently awarded nationwide, the $950,000 grant will afford for the training of more than 1,000 GRU students over the course of the next three years.

“With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, there is a significantly greater emphasis on prevention and integrated healthcare,” said Johnson. “This training will provide [students] with a skill that addresses both of these issues.”

As a condition of the grant, SAMHSA also requires a series of short satisfaction surveys from grantees. Held immediately following graduation, and again at the 30-day and 12-month mark, the purpose of the surveys is to measure changes in student attitudes toward and confidence in working with substance use patients.

Johnson says GRU’s surveys will go above and beyond SAMHSA’s requirements.

“Once students are trained, we’ll evaluate each students’ proficiency in performing a brief intervention using a computer-based simulated patient,” he said. “That way, all students regardless of the program they are in will be evaluated using the same simulation.

The simulated patient is currently being developed by Kognito.

Johnson said he and his colleagues have also discussed the possibility of using the required surveys to conduct validity research.

“We’d like to compare the proficiency measure using the simulated patient to that of a live standardized patient and/or a preceptor’s direct observation with a real patient,” he said. “We are just beginning to develop that idea, though.”

Johnson said he hopes the training will help distinguish GRU students on both the national and international levels.

“The strongest evidence for the effectiveness of screening and brief intervention is in primary care settings,” he said. “This training enables primary care practitioner to address many alcohol and drug issues right there in the office, while also making them more knowledgeable of treatment options for patients who need formal treatment.”

Not only will the grant affect students, though. Johnson said he believes it will also help distinguish GRU from other regional academic medical centers.

“National studies of physicians and nurses have found that they receive very little in the way of instruction on addressing patients’ substance use issues,” he said. “Integrating this training into their curriculum will make GRU somewhat unique in this regard.”

Dance Dash 5k swings into Augusta on Nov. 14

Dance Dash 2014 44The second annual Dance Dash 5k swings into Augusta on Nov. 14, and supporters are already on the move. But what should you know before lacing up your running shoes?

In its own words, Dance Dash describes itself as a 5k with a twist. In a way, that’s appropriate, because at any time Dance Dash might very well involve doing “The Twist.”

The hope is that Dance Dash participants will run (or walk) to raise money for their area’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospital wearing whatever ridiculous (but appropriate) costumes they can muster. Last year, a couple of notable superheroes raced next to a troupe of pink-tutu-wearing fairies while a gaggle of overdressed Santas cheered them on from behind. And those weren’t even the most imaginative competitors.

But the real craziness begins at the stops.

Every mile of Dance Dash (or three times total in a traditional 5k), participants will have a chance to learn a new dance move or routine.

Why, you ask? Because at the end of the race, Dance Dashers will be encouraged to join a giant flash mob dance party to celebrate their achievement.

Dance Dash 2014 49While fun and entertaining, the true magic of Dance Dash is that 100 percent of all funds raised go directly toward providing the best care possible for sick children in our community. And the best part is you can start giving today.

The process is simple.

First, register for yourself or create a team with your friends and coworkers. Know a group of people you’d like to run, walk or dance with? Have an awesome costume idea you’d like to show off? Then come out and Dance Dash.

Second, share your individual or team race page on Facebook and Twitter to let your other, non-Dash Dancing friends know that you’re competing. Remind them that if they won’t join you, then the least they can do is support you. With donations. For sick children.

And lastly, join us for Dance Dash Day at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, in front of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia in your best costume, craziest outfit and best attitude.

Individuals and teams can pick up their Dance Dash 5k packets from 3-7 p.m. on Nov. 13 or 7-9 a.m. on Nov. 14 in the CHOG lobby.

Dance Dash 2014 30From now until Oct. 10, registration is $10 off for all participants. GRU-affiliated participants can receive an additional discount by contacting Jessica Seigler at 706-446-0232 or at

Registration ends at noon on Nov. 13. To guarantee yourself an official Dance Dash T-shirt, though, you’ll need to register by 11:45 p.m. on Oct. 30.

Interested? Excited? Ready to dance to make the world a better place for children?
Then register for the second annual Dance Dash 5k by visiting

Study looks at whether daily limb compressions reduce dementia

A new study is looking at whether short, daily bouts of reduced blood flow to an arm or leg can reduce the ravages of dementia.

It’s called remote conditioning, and researchers say it activates natural protective mechanisms in the brain that should help about half of dementia patients.

The approach uses a blood pressure cuff-like device to temporarily restrict blood flow to an appendage repeatedly for a few minutes each day, which increases blood flow to other body areas, including the brain, said Dr. David Hess, Chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

Increased flow activates endothelial cells lining blood vessels, calling to action a series of natural protective mechanisms that can be effective wherever blood travels, Hess said. Interestingly, the mechanisms seem most active in areas of impaired flow, such as those deep inside the brain, where most dementia has its roots.

“The most powerful way to protect the brain is to cut off blood flow to it for a short period of time to condition it,” said Hess. “What it does is elicit these protective pathways so when potentially lethal ischemia comes, you can survive it.” What it also appears to do is help permanently improve blood flow to these deep regions of the brain.

Age and being a female are two of the major risk factors for dementia. With nearly 15 percent of the U.S. population age 65 and older and half being female, Hess calls dementia a major health concern. “This is a big epidemic coming. This is a big killer and disabler, and everybody is concerned about this.”

A two-year, $750,000 translational grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke should help Hess and his research team do the additional animal studies needed to move this safe and inexpensive technique for dementia to human studies.

“We think reduced cerebral blood flow, particularly in the deep white matter, is a major trigger of dementia,” Hess said. The white matter is primarily composed of axons, which connect neurons and different areas of the brain to each other and enable the brain to communicate with the body. The white protective coating on the axon is why this deep brain area is called white matter.

Hess, who is also a stroke specialist, says this area is particularly vulnerable to ischemia because the blood vessels that feed it are small and have long, tortuous routes. Strokes and/or impaired blood flow can lead to classic dementia symptoms such as forgetfulness and an unsteady gait.

By age 70, essentially everyone has some white matter disease, but in some it can be devastating. “You cannot go out in a car and find where you are going. You may not even be able to find your car. You can’t cook meals without setting the house on fire,” Hess said.

“What we want to do long term is find people who are at risk for dementia – they already have some white matter damage you can see on an MRI – then we condition them chronically with this device in their home,” Hess said. Chronically is a key word because, as with exercise, when this conditioning stops, so do its benefits. In fact, this passive therapy provides blood vessels many of the same benefits as exercise. “If you can exercise, you probably don’t need this,” Hess adds.

Previous studies in their animal model of vascular dementia have shown that just two weeks of daily, short bouts of ischemia to an appendage can improve the health of the important white matter. The new grant is allowing them to use a similar approach for periods of one and four months in older mice of both genders to better understand the mechanisms of action and how long and how often therapy is needed. While they don’t make as much as human, mice do make more amyloid, a protein that deposits in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s, when brain blood flow is impaired. Mice make less with the conditioning, so the researchers also are looking further at that result.

A small intramural grant is enabling similar studies with a pig model in collaboration with University of Georgia colleagues Dr. Simon R. Platt, professor of neurology and neurosurgery in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Franklin D. West, assistant professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

While he notes that multiple natural mechanisms are activated, Hess and his team are focusing on how the temporary bouts of increased blood flow prompt endothelial cells to make the precursor for the blood vessel dilator nitric oxide.

“The enzyme that makes nitric oxide is upregulated and stimulated quickly,” Hess said. Nitric oxide gas has a short life, but when a lot is dumped in the blood, it’s oxidized into nitrite – the same stuff put in hot dogs – which circulates throughout the bloodstream so it goes wherever blood goes. Although just how this happens is unclear, when the nitrite gets to an area of low blood flow, it is converted back to nitric oxide, which helps improve flow, Hess said.

The MCG researchers are applying for federal funding to do trials in humans who are at high risk for stroke because of small vessel disease deep in the brain. In 2012, they published results of a small study in the journal Stroke indicating that successive, vigorous bouts of leg compressions following a stroke trigger natural protective mechanisms that reduce damage and double the effectiveness of the clot buster tPA. Similar studies have been done by others in patients with heart disease.

Vascular dementia is considered the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. There are currently no drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration specifically for vascular dementia.

Collaborators at MCG and GRU include Dr. Mohammad B. Khan, postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Hess’ lab; Dr. Nasrul Hoda, College of Allied Health Sciences; Dr. Philip Wang, Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior; Dr. Ali Syed Arbab, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Dr. Nathan Eugene Yanasak, Department of Radiology and Imaging;  and Dr. Jennifer Waller, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology.

GRU hosts “Advances in Cancer Immunotherapy™ – Augusta, Georgia”

Georgia Regents University widened its already broad cancer focus Friday when it hosted the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer CME- and CNE-certified regional program “Advances in Cancer Immunotherapy – Augusta, Georgia.”

Organized by Dr. Esteban Celis, GRU professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dr. Samir N. Khleif, director of the GRU Cancer Center, and Dr. Zihai Li, chair of the department of Microbiology & Immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina, the one-day conference was part of a series of “Advances in Cancer Immunotherapy” regional programs presented by leading cancer authorities across the country.

Designed specifically for members of the traditional cancer immunotherapy treatment team, these programs provide an understanding of basic immunology principles in the clinical application and management of cancer immunotherapy.

During presentations, emerging drugs and concepts in the cancer immunotherapy field are also typically discussed.

The event continues until 4 p.m. in the Health Sciences Building, Room 1204. A list of panels can be found here.

In hosting this event, the GRU Cancer Center has once again propelled Augusta into the ranks of other prestigious cancer research destinations across the United States, sharing the spotlight with cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Princeton, New Jersey.

Earlier this month, The GRU Cancer Center made another big splash when The Community Foundation for the CSRA donor-advised fund Press On donated $2.5 million to fund pediatric cancer research and treatment at GRU. To read more about that donation, click here.

Georgia Regents University – Augusta University: What You Need to Know

On Tuesday, September 15, the Board of Regents voted unanimously to change the name of Georgia Regents University to Augusta University.

We understand that this decision raises many practical and important questions involving the day-to-day operations of the university and health system. While the Board of Regents made the change “effective immediately,” a period of thoughtful discussion and planning is required in order to ensure a smooth transition.

To help ease the transition, a site has been created at that will serve as a landing page for all communications regarding the changeover.

We will work hard to engage our faculty, staff, alumni and friends in the transition process and will communicate information as we have it. Please continue to conduct business as usual until further notice. Updates will be posted as they become available.

CHOG fountain dedication to be held Tuesday

Children’s Hospital of Georgia officials will hold a dedication ceremony for the new outdoor fountain for patients and families at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, in the front circle at CHOG.

The project – which includes sculpted dolphins hovering above the water – was funded through a $250,000 portion of the donations from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals partners Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Special guests will include patients, families and representatives from these two major CHOG supporters. Walmart and Sam’s Club stores sell Miracle Balloons, take donations at the register and hold bake sales, contests and other events to raise money for CHOG each year during their CMN Hospitals campaigns.

The idea for the fountain came about from a dying child’s desire to play outdoors with his dog during his last days.

Light refreshments will be served at the event, and all are welcome to attend.