Category Archives: Health Care


Are vaccinations important? Health Department official will weigh in

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The first in a series of monthly Lunch & Learn programs sponsored by Healthy Augusta will address the importance of immunizations for children and adults.

Susan Edmunds, the Child Health and Immunization Coordinator for the East Central Public Health District, will discuss the importance of being vaccinated against preventable diseases, what’s required for child care centers, schools, and colleges, as well as what immunizations are recommended for all ages.

The free program is planned for noon, Monday, Aug. 4, at the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library, 823 Telfair St. Lunch will be provided for the first 30 people.

Healthy Augusta is a partnership between community organizations and the Georgia Regents University Institute of Public and Preventive Health aimed at improving public health by increasing opportunities for people to engage in healthy lifestyle practices.

For more information about the monthly Lunch & Learn programs or to register, call Glynis Key at 706-721-1758.


ECMO earns 5th excellence award

AUGUSTA, Ga. – To Elizabeth Peed, the members of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia ECMO team are heroes.

“Gates would not be alive if it weren’t for them. The team is not only brilliant but, also completely family-centered,” the Macon mother said as she recalled the pediatric specialists who worked to keep her newborn son alive while his tiny body fought off a deadly infection. “I was never shooed away from his bedside. They gave me as much information as possible. They felt like my family, and we were all a part of Team Gates, fighting for his life.”

Gates Peed of Macon, Ga., was the 465th child to be saved through ECMO therapy at Children’s Hospital of Georgia. The CHOG ECMO program was recognized in July with its fifth consecutive international Award for Excellence in Life Support.
Caleb Peed holds his son Gates, 15 months, who survived a deadly infection as a newborn through the help of ECMO therapy at Children’s Hospital of Georgia. CHOG is the only hospital in the state outside of Atlanta that offers this life-saving technology.

A few hours after his birth, Gates showed signs of distress. The doctor told Elizabeth and Caleb Peed that the baby had pneumonia, probably brought on by an infection of group B strep or listeria. His best chance at survival was to be transferred to Atlanta or Augusta for ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a life-saving technique that mimics the natural function of the heart and lungs allowing a critically ill infant or child to rest while natural healing of the affected organs takes place.

“We chose Augusta,” said Peed. “When we arrived, I’d say, there were about 25 people there in the NICU working on him. It was his last shot.”

Throughout his run on ECMO, Gates was the center of a highly coordinated medical team that provided round-the-clock care. The procedure involved routing his blood into a roller pump that served as his heart. From there the blood was pushed through an oxygenator, an artificial lung, where it was infused with oxygen, stripped of carbon dioxide and other detriments, and returned to his little body to fuel its billions of cells.

The length of time a child remains on ECMO therapy depends on the diagnosis and the child’s individual response. Doctors were amazed at how quickly Gates improved.

“Originally, they said it might be a 21-day ECMO run,” said Peed. “But Gates only had a six-day run. He just started getting better. He’s a miracle baby.”

Gates is one of many miracles that have taken place at CHOG through its award-winning ECMO program. This month, the program was recognized for the fifth consecutive time with an Award for Excellence in Life Support from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization. The ELSO Award is recognized by U.S. News and World Report and Parents magazine as criteria for top pediatric hospitals.

“I am so proud to work alongside such an amazing group of nurses, respiratory therapists, and physicians that make up our ECMO team. This award clearly demonstrates a dedication to excellence and a commitment to patients and their families that each member brings to the table,” said Linda J. Wise, Coordinator of ECMO and Neonatal Transport at CHOG. “Together we have saved many young lives.”

Children’s Hospital of Georgia is a pioneer in ECMO technology, introducing the Southeast’s first ECMO program in 1985. Since then, 495 patients have received life-saving support through this artificial heart-lung machine. Gates, who turned 1 in April, was patient number 465.

Watch the Gates Peed CMN story from June 2013 by Ch. 12.


Food drive nets 1,850 pounds for Golden Harvest

Family Medicine
Medical Intensive Care Unit

GRHealth nursing’s Special Projects Council led the way in the health system’s month-long collection of more than 1,850 pounds of food and $1,728 in cash donations for Golden Harvest Food Bank. The annual “Fill Little Tummies” food drive was established in 2005 as a way to help ensure that area children in need have meals during the summer months.

“Participation was high again this year, and we are glad to continue supporting such a great cause,” said organizer Debra Marranci, a Senior Staff Nurse at Georgia Regents Medical Center.

The Medical Intensive Care Unit and Family Medicine made the largest contributions, with the MICU collecting 744 pounds of food, and Family Medicine collecting $874.


Family Medicine Residency Program receives grant to help increase flu vaccinations

The Medical College of Georgia’s Family Medicine Residency Program is one of only 16 programs nationally to receive a $10,000 Senior Immunization Grant from the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation to help increase influenza and pneumococcal vaccines to the people who need them most.

Their winning proposal included several quality improvement projects that should increase vaccination rates, be sustainable over time, and be adaptable at other academic and community primary care programs.

As part of the proposal, the team created a standing order in the Georgia Regents Family Medicine Clinic that gives nurses the authority to administer flu vaccines to high risk patients who have not yet been vaccinated, instead of getting physicians’ orders first.

“The grant focused on our most vulnerable population groups to include pediatric patients, adults over age 65, and those who are immunocompromised,” explained Principal Investigator Dr. Janis Coffin, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Medical Director of the Family Medicine Clinic.

Other members of the team include Residents Dr. Eunice Gititu, Dr. Edward Agabin, Dr. Prasand Kesavan; our Family Medicine Research Team: Dayna Seymore, Denise Hodo, and Holly Andrews; Dr. Carla Duffie, clinic coordinator; and Patrick Hatch, who did the information technology legwork.

Azziz to speak to Augusta West Rotary

Ricardo Azziz

Dr. Ricardo Azziz, President of Georgia Regents University and CEO of Georgia Regents Health System, will present “What’s New and Brewing at GRU” to the Augusta West Rotary at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, July 24.

Meetings are held each Thursday at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 402 Aumond Road. For more information, visit


Eight steps to avoid insect stings

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Stinging insects are as much a part of summer as pool parties and picnics. But don’t let these uninvited guests spoil your family’s fun.

“The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports that stings from insects send more than half a million people to hospitals and cause at least 50 deaths each year. Common stingers include honey bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and fire ants,” says Dr. Bill Dolen, an allergist/immunologist at Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

Dolen recommends following these eight steps to avoid insect stings:

  1. Be cautious when eating outdoors and consider keeping food covered.
  2. If you can, avoid drinking beverages outside. Stinging insects are attracted to beverages and may crawl inside drink cans or other containers.
  3. Cover garbage cans with tight lids.
  4. Avoid wearing sweet-smelling perfumes, hair sprays, colognes, and deodorants.
  5. Avoid wearing bright-colored clothing outdoors, such as floral patterns.
  6. Don’t walk barefoot in the grass.
  7. Watch for signs of stinging insects when gardening, mowing the yard, or doing outside house maintenance. Hornets, for example, can build huge, nests in shrubs.
  8. Be cautious around fire ant mounds, and don’t disturb them.

Even with precautions, stings may still happen, so it’s also important to be aware of the signs of an allergic reaction, since reactions can be deadly.

“A normal reaction to an insect sting will include pain, swelling and redness at the sting site, but an allergic reaction requires immediate medical attention,” says Dolen.

Symptoms include:

  • Hives, itching, and swelling in areas other than the sting site.
  • Tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing.
  • Swelling of the tongue, throat, nose, and lips.
  • Dizziness and fainting, or loss of consciousness, which can lead to shock and heart failure.

If you or your children have ever had an allergic reaction to an insect sting, you are at high risk for a more severe reaction if stung again. An allergist can help you determine what kind of insect you are allergic to and recommend ways to stay safe if you are stung again.

“An epinephrine injection is the most immediate way to treat a severe allergic reaction,” says Dolen. An allergist can prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector and teach you and your family members how to use it.

Or, you may be a candidate for venom immunotherapy. These are allergy shots that treat insect sting allergies and may prevent future allergic reactions.

“These shots are 97 percent effective in preventing potentially life-threatening reactions to insect stings,” says Dolen.

If your child is allergic to insect stings, be sure to alert teachers, coaches and camp counselors and teach them how to use epinephrine. Also talk to your child about how to avoid situations where stinging insects may be encountered.


‘Topping Off’ event scheduled Tuesday at Ronald McDonald House site

There will be a “Topping Off” Celebration from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 29, at the construction site of the new Ronald McDonald House on the campus of Georgia Regents University.

Officials with Ronald McDonald Charities of Augusta are inviting the public to be a part of history by signing the final beam that will be placed on the roof.

Augusta’s current Ronald McDonald House on Greene Street opened in 1984. Since then, more than 15,000 families have stayed at this “home away from home” while their ill children received care.

The new house is located within walking distance for the patients and families it serves at Children’s Hospital of Georgia. Officials expect construction to be completed in December.

For more information, visit or call 706-724-5901.



Aiken Standard: Barnwell teen heals after removal of rare tumor

Aiken Standard: July 13, 2014

Colton Bolen, a rising Barnwell High School sophomore, was suffering from juvenile nasopharyngeal angiofibroma, a vascular tumor mostly consisting of blood vessels that only occurs in adolescent males. This type of tumor is benign but grows rapidly.

Dr. George Harris, a pediatric otolaryngologist at Children’s Hospital of Georgia, and Dr. Scott Rahimi, a neurosurgeon at Georgia Regents Medical Center, teamed up to remove the tumor.

They were able to successfully do so through Colton’s nose and mouth without leaving any scars, and he is on the road to recovery.