Category Archives: Health Care

10 resolutions for a healthier family

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Resolutions, resolutions. From quitting smoking to losing weight, each new year brings the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

Linder1“Parents tend to set personal goals, but they are not as quick to set or contemplate goals for their children,” said Dr. Charles Linder, Pediatrician-In-Chief at Children’s Hospital of Georgia and Interim Chair of Pediatrics at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. “But there are things you can focus on to improve wellness and quality of life for both you and your family in 2015.”

Here are 10 resolutions that Children’s Hospital of Georgia physicians encourage you to commit to in 2015 in order to maintain a healthier lifestyle:

1. Provide a safe environment. Take steps to make sure your home, car, school, and other environments are child-friendly and safe. Use car seats and seat belts for appropriate ages and sizes. Keep hazardous materials and objects in locked areas and out of your children’s reach. “Keep medications and weapons locked away,” Linder said. “We hear about so many accidents involving guns in the home, and these are preventable tragedies.”

2. Live tobacco free. Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are harmful to you and your family as are other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes. Make this the year to quit. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation.

3. Be physically active. Encourage your kids to be active for at least one hour every day. Include activities that raise breathing and heart rates and that strengthen muscles and bones. “Find fun, safe, activities that you can do as a family, like walking or riding bikes,” advises Linder.

4. Get some sleep. How you feel and perform during the day is related to how much sleep you get the night before. “Sufficient sleep is increasingly being recognized as an essential aspect of chronic disease prevention and health promotion,” said Linder. “Sleep needs vary from person to person and from adults to children, so check with your primary care physician if you are unsure how much sleep is required for you and your children.”

5. Set and keep routine checkups. “Go to the doctor regularly. Don’t just go when you are ill,” Linder urges. Routine checkups, including dental and eye exams, help identify ways to stay healthy, provide the opportunity to receive preventive care, and often uncover health problems early when treatment is most effective.

6. Stay current on immunizations. “Nobody really likes getting a shot, especially children, but timely immunizations help prevent diseases and save lives,” said Linder. Keep a record of your family’s vaccinations so you can stay up-to-date with CDC recommendations. Linder also recommends that adults ask about vaccinations for shingles, pneumonia, and other illnesses that are now requiring boosters in adulthood. If you have questions, ask your doctor.

7. Maintain a healthy diet. Obesity is a major health issue for children and adults in the United States. Resolve to serve healthy meals and snacks to your family, and teach children to choose meals and snacks wisely. How can you tell good snacks from bad? Linder recommends eating snacks that require washing, peeling, and/or slicing, such as raw fruits and vegetables. “If it comes in a bag, box, can, bottle, or wrapper, then it’s probably not healthy,” said Linder. Be sure to watch portion sizes, too.

8. Monitor your children. “Essentially this is the primary role of parenting – to ‘parent’ your children,” said Linder. Kids learn – both good and bad lessons – from family, friends, media, school, and other influences. Know who they spend time with, what they’re doing, and if the activities are appropriate. Limit TV and non-essential computer time. “And get familiar with Facebook, Twitter, and the like in order to carefully monitor or limit social media activity if you choose to allow your children to participate.”

9. Nurture your family. Kids need the support and love of family and friends. Converse with your children regularly and show them you care about what’s going on in their lives. Respond to their physical and emotional needs. “It’s important for kids to grow in a safe, loving, and secure environment. Examine your schedule. If you are overextended, perhaps you should cancel or reschedule less important engagements in order to spend quality time with your family.”

10. Practice what you preach. Linder says that one of the best things a parent can do for their children is to model a healthy lifestyle. Teach children to make wise and healthy choices every day, including fastening their seat belts, wearing helmets and protective sports equipment, using sun protection, proper hygiene, and treating others with kindness and respect. “Your children will learn best when you model the good behavior you wish them to show,” said Linder.

While most of these resolutions seem like common sense, Linder said that sometimes what’s most needed is to restate the obvious.

“If you steer your children toward healthy resolutions now, the more likely they are to carry these healthy habits with them into adulthood,” he said.

Editorial Note: Dr. Charles W. Linder is Associate Dean and Professor of Pediatrics Emeritus at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. He is currently serving as Interim Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Pediatrician-In-Chief of Children’s Hospital of Georgia. He has more than 35 years of service and contributions to pediatrics in Augusta and was instrumental in the establishment of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the Ronald McDonald House, and many other children’s wellness programs. Linder has received numerous awards including MCG’s Distinguished Alumnus Award and the Leila Denmark Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, where he has held numerous leadership roles including serving on the Board of Directors.

Doctors lasso piece of the heart to reduce stroke risk in AFib patients

AUGUSTA, Ga. – More than 3 million Americans live with atrial fibrillation, a serious heart rhythm disorder that makes them five times more likely to have a stroke. But doctors at Georgia Regents Medical Center can reduce this risk by using an innovative nonsurgical procedure called the LARIAT Suture Delivery Device to lasso and tie off a pouch-like piece of the heart, blocking stroke-causing blood clots from forming there.

Maddox, William.web“This pouch-like piece attached to the outside of the heart is the left atrial appendage. It’s about the size of the thumb and is the most common location where stroke-causing clots form in AFib patients,” said Dr. William Maddox, a cardiac electrophysiologist at the hospital and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Georgia Regents University’s Medical College of Georgia. “When a patient has atrial fibrillation, the electrical impulses that control the heartbeat are erratic. These fast, chaotic impulses don’t give the atria time to contract and effectively squeeze blood out of the left atrium and left atrial appendage.”

Because the appendage looks and functions much like a small pouch, blood collects there, where it’s more likely to form clots. If a blood clot breaks free, it can move into and plug a smaller vessel in the brain causing a stroke.

“Research has shown that close to 90 percent of stroke-causing clots come from the left atrial appendage, so, if we can take away this danger, then we can decrease a patient’s stroke risk,” said Maddox.

Patients with atrial fibrillation generally are prescribed blood thinners to prevent clots. But not all patients can tolerate these anticoagulants, which can cause severe bleeding. For these patients, the LARIAT procedure is a more viable option.

Unlike open heart surgery, this procedure is minimally invasive – completed through small punctures in the skin. With the patient under general anesthesia, Maddox guides two catheters into the patient’s heart to seal the left atrial appendage with a pre-tied suture loop that looks like a miniature lasso. Once in place, he pulls back on the LARIAT device to tighten the knot on the tiny string and close off the appendage. Starved of blood, the appendage shrivels into scar tissue.

Only the left atrial appendage is tied off, so the procedure doesn’t affect blood flow to any other part of the heart. The benefits for patients include a shorter procedure and recovery time, less pain, and a low risk of complications.

“It’s just an overnight stay and mild soreness in the chest area with a total recovery in a month for most patients,” said Maddox. “This is truly a simple, one-time solution to a very dangerous health issue.”

New CHOG Clinical Research Unit provides valuable resources

The need at Children’s Hospital of Georgia for an on-site research unit has been met with the addition of a new Clinical Research Unit designed to help bring studies and research from the bench to the bedside in order to provide better care for our pediatric and adult patients.

The Clinical Research Unit will provide valuable, functional infrastructure to young and seasoned faculty to conduct pediatric research to include community studies as well as clinical trials, while supporting the institutional goal of becoming a top-tiered research university.

All faculty and staff are invited to the unit’s Open House on Wednesday, Jan. 14, starting at noon on the 5th floor of CHOG. CRU Research Director Martha Tingen and team will provide an overview and brief tours. Remarks by key institutional leaders will begin at 12:15 p.m.

Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served.

“This is truly an outpatient unit within an inpatient setting complete with all the available resources that a hospital setting provides,” said Tingen. “The unit has easy access from the main entrance of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia and is located adjacent to an outstanding pediatric unit.

“The importance of the unit for the Medical College of Georgia and Children’s Hospital of Georgia is multifaceted,” said Tingen. “For example, it provides a novel unit for early-stage and seasoned faculty to conduct research to advance and improve child health in a setting adjacent to their clinical practice, and it is a resource for health sciences students to explore research options, conduct literature reviews, and attempt to find the answer to an unanswered question that may have come up in rounds.”

The two-bed unit, while located in CHOG, is built to accommodate adolescent and adult populations as well.

For more information on the Open House, contact Matt Humphries at 706-721-3037.

First baby of 2015 born at GRMC

Augusta’s first baby of 2015 was born at Georgia Regents Medical Center.  Treyvon Tremaine Harris made his way into the world at 12:16 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2015.

Treyvon, son of Joyce and Jamar Harris of Augusta, weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces, and was 20 inches long.

The Augusta Chronicle and local television stations came over to meet the first baby. Clink on the links below to see the stories:


WRDW-TV News 12

WJBF NewsChannel 6

FOX 54

NBC Augusta

Cannabidiol trials begin this week

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Two clinical trials aimed at treating children with medication-resistant epilepsy with cannabidiol have been approved at Georgia Regents University. The first – a two-person compassionate use protocol that received authorization from both the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – begins today at Children’s Hospital of Georgia. The second will allow for an expanded 50-person trial, initiated at GRU with planned expansion to Savannah and Atlanta.

The state, along with GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: GWPH), and officials at GRU have been working together since May to begin a study with GW’s investigational cannabidiol (CBD) product Epidiolex®, which has promising data for difficult to treat childhood epilepsies.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced in April his support for clinical research that would investigate the use of CBD, a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, and develop rigorous data that will inform and expand the scientific community’s understanding of potential treatments.

“No one with a heart could hear the stories of these children and their parents and not want to exhaust every possibility to provide them with the treatment they need to combat this debilitating condition,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “I believe this initiative can have a meaningful and positive impact on the health of suffering children. Georgians have expressed overwhelming support for these endeavors, and I’m committed to finding solutions for these brave families.”

GW Pharmaceuticals is a world leader in the development of prescription cannabinoid medicines, and conducts scientific research in accordance with U.S. federal law with permission from the FDA and DEA. The FDA has already authorized physician-sponsored Investigational New Drug programs with Epidiolex at 20 sites around the U.S involving over 400 children. In parallel, GW is progressing a company-sponsored formal development program for Epidiolex that is focused on the treatment of two rare and severe forms of childhood epilepsy, Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

“We are pleased to be partnering with the State of Georgia and Georgia Regents University in response to the significant unmet needs of children with treatment-resistant epilepsies by providing physicians with access to our medicine Epidiolex,” said Dr. Geoffrey Guy, Chairman of GW Pharmaceuticals. “In parallel with this GRU program, GW is advancing a formal clinical trial program with the FDA and has commenced placebo-controlled clinical trials designed to gain approval for Epidiolex as a prescription medicine.”

“As the state’s public academic medical center, we should be on the leading edge in the treatment of these disorders,” said GRU President Dr. Ricardo Azziz. “Georgia’s children should not have to go elsewhere. We have a responsibility to bring the medicine of tomorrow to patient care today. We are excited to partner with GW Pharmaceuticals to study investigational cannabidiol and potentially change the lives of children with medication-resistant epilepsies.”

Families of children with difficult to treat seizure disorders who are interested in enrolling in the Epidiolex trial at Georgia Regents University can contact lead investigator Dr. Yong Park at (706) 721-3371.

About GW Pharmaceuticals:
Founded in 1998, GW is a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing novel therapeutics from its proprietary cannabinoid product platform in a broad range of disease areas. GW commercialized the world’s first plant-derived cannabinoid prescription drug, Sativex®, which is approved for the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis in 27 countries outside the United States. Sativex is also in Phase 3 clinical development as a potential treatment of pain associated with advanced cancer. This Phase 3 program is intended to support the submission of a New Drug Application for Sativex in cancer pain with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and in other markets around the world. GW is also advancing an orphan drug program in the field of childhood epilepsy with a focus on Epidiolex®, which is in Phase 2/3 clinical development for the treatment of Dravet syndrome and which is also expected to enter Phase 3 clinical trials in the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. GW has a deep pipeline of additional cannabinoid product candidates which includes compounds in Phase 1 and 2 clinical development for glioma, ulcerative colitis, type 2 diabetes, and schizophrenia. For further information, please visit

About Georgia Regents University and Health System:
Georgia Regents University is one of four public comprehensive research universities in the state with nearly 10,000 students enrolled in its nine colleges and schools, which include the Medical College of Georgia – the nation’s 13th-oldest medical school – the nationally-ranked Hull College of Business and Georgia’s only College of Dental Medicine. The clinical enterprise associated with the university includes the 478-bed Georgia Regents Medical Center and the 154-bed Children’s Hospital of Georgia. GRU is a unit of the University System of Georgia and an equal opportunity institution.


Save the Date: CRU open house set for Jan. 14

Mark your calendars for an open house to be held from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, in the new Clinical Research Unit on the fifth floor of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

Join CRU Research Director Dr. Martha Tingen and team for an overview, brief tours, and heavy hors d’ oeuvres to celebrate a new venue designed to help bring studies and research from the bench to the bedside in order to provide better care for our pediatric and adult patients.

For more information, contact Matt Humphries at 706-721-3037.

Editorial urges support for new House

The Augusta Chronicle: Dec. 22, 2014
Home Improvement

Campaign for new Ronald McDonald House still needs your support 

Despite the name, rest assured the folks behind the local Ronald McDonald House don’t clown around. They’re less than $200,000 away from completing a $5.87 million capital campaign to build a new state-of-the-art home to house families of child hospital patients.

Causes don’t get any better than this, either: The Ronald McDonald House is an oasis of comfort to families with sick children, providing a home away from home in the shadow of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.And we can help. See to find out how.

Then we can all share in the accomplishment, at a public ribbon-cutting at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 8, at 1442 Harper St.

Read the full editorial: Home Improvement