Category Archives: Health Care

Heart Walk has new meaning for GRU employee

After several instances of “just not feeling right,” Georgia Regents University Landscaping & Grounds Manager Scott Davis finally convinced himself in January to see a doctor.

It was a good thing he did. Davis was diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia, also known as a fast heart rate, and doctors said he should consider himself lucky his condition hadn’t resulted in a major cardiac attack.

Ventricular tachycardia, or VT, does not allow enough time for the heart to fill before it contracts so blood does not get pumped throughout the body, according to the American Heart Association. VT can be life-threatening and requires rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Davis’ episodes occurred most often while he exercised. His heart would race faster than normal, and he felt like he would faint.

“It was like my body was saying, ‘You’re going to fall over,’” Davis said. “But, I kind of knew it wasn’t a panic attack.”

In December, he knew something wasn’t quite right but, he said, like many men, he pushed it off as long as he could.

Last month, he made an appointment with his regular doctor, Drew Vanalstine. After performing routine check-up and running normal blood tests, Dr. Vanalstine suggested that Davis seek a cardiovascular consult from one of his medical school colleagues, Dr. Vishal Arora. After a quick, suspicious EKG, Dr. Arora fitted Davis with a Holter monitor, a battery-powered device that measured and recorded his heart activity for a 24-hour period. Davis also kept a diary of his daily activities.

On his birthday, Thursday, Feb. 12, Davis received a rather shocking present. He was told he needed to return to GRMC because data collected from the Holter monitor was abnormal. Davis and his family had plans to travel out of town that weekend, so he assured the nurse he would be in first thing on Monday.

“She said, ‘No, you need to come now,’” Davis said.

Drs. Adam Berman and Robert Sorrentino later implanted a defibrillator in Davis’ chest that can deliver a shock to return his heart to a normal rhythm if it is beating too fast. Davis is also taking antiarrhythmic medicine and has not felt out of sorts since.

“This usually gives people a test of reality,” Sorrentino said,” that we’re not immortal.”

Davis’ VT diagnosis is particularly ironic. Weeks before he’d made the doctor’s appointment in February, he was named captain of GRU’s Division of Facilities Services Heart Walk fundraising team. Now, instead of simply encouraging the Division to raise money, he’s raising awareness of heart health.

The main thing, he said, is to know your body so you recognize when things are out of whack.

“My hope is they’ll learn from me,” he said.

Davis has nothing but good things to say about his experience at Georgia Regents Medical Center. He’s taken care of GRU for years, and now GRU has taken care of him.

“It feels good to support where you work,” Davis said.

Medical Associates Executive Committee to meet March 11

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of The Medical College of Georgia Physicians Practice Group Foundation, doing business as Georgia Regents Medical Associates, will meet at noon on Wednesday, March 11, on the fourth floor of the Medical Office Building, BP-4306.

For more information, contact Lauren Neville at 706-724-6100.

U.S. Congressman Rick Allen tours GRU

U.S. Congressman Rick Allen (R-Ga.-12) toured Georgia Regents University and spoke with faculty members about GRU’s cyber education program and future plans for university facilities. In addition to the GRU campus, Allen also visited Georgia Regents Medical Center’s Emergency Department and spoke with medical staff about initiatives they are implementing to strengthen emergency care and address challenges in rural health. Read more about the visit. 

IHOP’s 10th Pancake Day supports CHOG

AUGUSTA, Ga. – On Tuesday, March 3, area IHOP restaurants once again will be offering a free short stack of their famous buttermilk pancakes to each guest in recognition of National Pancake Day. This family-friendly tradition – now in its 10th year – aims to raise funds and awareness for Children’s Hospital of Georgia, the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

For every short stack of ShortStack.verticalbuttermilk pancakes served on National Pancake Day between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., IHOP guests are invited to make a voluntary donation to CHOG in lieu of their meal cost. Since 2006, IHOP National Pancake Day has raised about $13 million to provide life-saving treatment, programs, and medical equipment for pediatric patients — including the nearly 100,000 children treated annually at CHOG.

“Thanks to the generosity of IHOP and its patrons through Pancake Day, we were able to purchase specialized physical therapy equipment for CHOG patients,” said Catherine Stewart, CMN Development Officer. “We raised more than $3,100 last year, and we’d like to top that this year. The weather in our area has been cold and a little dreary lately, so this is the perfect time to get over to IHOP and enjoy a stack of warm pancakes.”

Participating IHOP locations are located at: 3125 Peach Orchard Road, Augusta; 4361 Washington Road, Evans; and 180 Aiken Mall Drive, Aiken.

For more information, contact Catherine Stewart at or by phone at 706-721-4004. To make an online donation to CHOG, visit

The 154-bed not-for-profit Children’s Hospital of Georgia is the second largest children’s hospital in the state, providing the highest level of pediatric critical care and neonatal intensive care, as well as a wide range of general and complex health care for children. Visit or follow on Twitter at

Find out why children’s hospitals need community support, and learn about your member hospital, at

GRHealth named AHA Fit-Friendly Worksite

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The American Heart Association has recognized GRHealth as a Gold-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite for championing employee wellness. GRHealth is the only Augusta hospital to achieve this honor.

DS-6029 AHA_Seal14_Gold_cmykFit-Friendly Worksites reach gold and platinum levels by implementing activities and programs that encourage physical activity, nutrition, and culture enhancements that foster healthy living.

“As an organization focused on providing quality health care, we must be positive role models for our patients, families, staff, and peers,” said Susan A. Norton, Vice President for Human Resources and Chief Human Resources Officer. “Receiving this award not only enhances our ability to attract highly qualified staff in the face of shortages in health care professions, but, more importantly, it inspires all of us who work here to continue to value our own health and well-being.”

Some of the healthy initiatives at GRHealth that helped earn the Fit-Friendly designation include:
• Publishing and promoting campus walking routes and programs
• Publishing health and fitness tips through an online newsletter
• Maintaining a tobacco-free environment
• Providing “mindful eating” and other healthy food choices in the cafeteria
• Offering weight loss programs at work
• Implementing an employee wellness program that includes coaching

“GRHealth is a caring employer, committed to providing the best workplace environment possible,” said Frances A. Toole, Director of Employee Health and Wellness. “We will continue to develop ways to actively engage our staff in taking care of their health, and we hope that more companies will follow our lead in promoting healthy lifestyles.”

According to the American Heart Association, American employers are losing an estimated $226 billion a year because of health care expenses and health-related losses in productivity. Many American adults have sedentary jobs, which contributes to a lack of physical activity and an increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a host of other medical issues. The AHA aims to transform corporate cultures through the Fit-Friendly initiative and other wellness programs.

The AHA recommends employee walking programs as walking has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity.

Knight named Digestive Health administrator

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Chad Knight, a health care professional with more than 14 years of leadership experience, has been named Administrator of the new GRHealth Digestive Health Center. Chad Knight
This state-of-the-art center houses the nation’s largest and most advanced motility clinic, the region’s only neurogastroenterologist, and fellowship-trained digestive health subspecialists in inflammatory bowel disease; liver, pancreatic and biliary medicine; advanced endoscopy; and weight loss surgery.

Before joining GRHealth, Knight served as administrator of Oncology Services at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, N.C. Prior to that, he was Director of Oncology at Tanner Health System in Carrollton, Ga. During this time, he participated in the Association of Community Cancer Centers where he served as Chair, Program Guidelines Committee and Committee Ambassador for the Southern Region.

Knight earned a Bachelor of Science from Berry College in Rome, a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration from the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and a Master of Exercise and Sport Sciences from the University of Florida.

He is an active member and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and has expertise in continuous process improvement as a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt for Healthcare. Knight is also a professional speaker with expertise in patient financial assistance, payer contracts, and care plans.

Watch: Dr. Vazquez discusses “superbug”

Two patients treated in a UCLA hospital reportedly died this week from a CRE infection that was traced back to a particular scope used in an exploratory procedure.

Dr. Jose Vazquez, Chief of the Section of Infectious Disease at the Medical College of Georgia at GRU talks about the prevalence of CRE bacterias, also referred to as a “superbug,” and how the rampant abuse of antibiotics contributes to growth of more antibiotic-resistant infections.

Employee Engagement Survey results encouraging for Health System

The results from Georgia Regents Health System’s second Employee Engagement Survey are in, and senior leadership is very pleased.

“We’re actually seeing the fruits of the labor, that action planning has resulted in improvement,” said Susan Norton, Enterprise Vice-President, Human Resources. “We’ve made dramatic improvement in a very short period of time.”

The survey’s intent was to receive feedback from health system employees in order to better understand how they view the organization and then to prioritize those responses and engage in action planning with the goal of improving our employees’ experience with their work environment

It had been 12 years since an engagement survey had been conducted for the health system, and the 2013 results showed room for improvement, with the health system finishing in the 8th percentile of similar institutions nationwide.

Leadership viewed those numbers as an opportunity to move forward.

“From my perspective, I wanted to see this happen here in our organization because our personnel are our most important asset and I value the voice of every one of our employees,” said Steven Scott, Chief Operating Officer, Georgia Regents Medical Center.

In the past, he said, there was no systematized way to tap into our employees’ experience other than through anecdotal commentary or information gleaned from exit interviews. By that time, it was often too late to make changes.

“That’s why I thought it was important not only to establish a survey process here, but also to demonstrate to our employees that senior leadership is interested in their point of view as it relates to improving our collective work environment,” Scott said.

After just seven months of focused attention, the health system jumped from the 8th percentile to the 26th percentile nationally.

“According to our engagement consultant, this performance represents a significant jump compared to her other clients,” Norton said. “For us to have also gone from 3.81 to 3.99 on a five-point scale in just seven months of action planning is huge.”

Not only did the organization jump to the next quartile and improve from Tier 3 to Tier 2, every single item in the survey went up.

“Last year, we only had 17 units in Tier 1 (the highest tier), and this year, we have 40,” Norton said. “Last year, we had 62 in Tier 2, and we have 114 this year. And last year, almost two-thirds of our organization was Tier 3, and we’ve dropped that down to 39 percent.”

Survey results have been made available to the management team, and all employees should expect to be receiving their departmental results from their managers very soon.

According to Scott, this organizational progress should be encouraging to everyone associated with the health system.

“We look forward to continuing to improve until we’ve become a Tier I organization with the majority of our work units in Tier I as well,” he said.


GRHealth awarded for safety, quality in heart surgery

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Georgia Regents Medical Center has earned a statewide award for enhancing cardiac care from the Partnership for Health and Accountability, an affiliate of the Georgia Hospital Association. GRHealth earned third place among Georgia hospitals with more than 300 beds for successfully managing blood sugar levels in heart surgery patients.

PHA’s annual Quality and Safety Awards recognize Georgia health care organizations for achievements in reducing the risk of medical errors and improving patient safety and medical outcomes.

“We are honored to have been chosen for another PHA award at GRHealth. We are always looking for ways to advance the care we provide to our patients and families,” said Dr. Kevin C. Dellsperger, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer.

Research has shown that people whose sugars are not well managed after surgery tend to have higher rates of complications, so GRHealth standardized the management of glucose levels in surgical patients through advanced treatment protocols. This enhanced cardiac care plan requires monitoring blood sugar more frequently; providing more thorough patient education; increasing communication between the operating room and the intensive care unit; and fulfilling all necessary caregiver training.

“By implementing these protocols, we have reduced the risk of wound infections and improved survival in cardiac surgery,” said Dellsperger, a seasoned cardiologist. “We have shown marked improvement in a short period of time.”

Results showed staff compliance for managing glucose levels improved from 31 to 100 percent during surgery and from 82 percent to 100 percent during the post-operative period.

“This demonstrates our commitment to improving quality and safety for our patients.” Furthermore, Dellsperger said the results have relevance across the board for better outcomes.

“Cardiac surgery is life-saving, but it can have potentially life-threatening complications. Proper glucose control ensures patient safety by reducing the risk of these complications,” said Dr. Doug Patten, GHA’s Chief Medical Officer. “We applaud Georgia Regents Medical Center for its success in this area and for its efforts in providing the best and safest care possible to its patients.”

About PHA
The Partnership for Health and Accountability (PHA), an affiliate of GHA, was established in January 2000 to improve patient care and patient safety in hospitals and other health care facilities and create healthy communities.

About GHA
Established in 1929, GHA is the state’s largest trade organization of hospitals and health systems providing education, research and risk management services to its more than 170 hospital and health system members. Additionally, it represents and advocates health policy issues benefiting Georgia’s citizens before the state legislature and U.S. Congress as well as before regulatory bodies.

Watch Special TV Report: Trials Underway

NBC TV station WMGT 41in Macon aired a special report on this clinical trial that began in December at GRU.

The reporter interviewed Drs. Yong Park and Michael Diamond, as well as Valerie Weaver of Augusta, the mother of Preston – the first patient in the state to received the marijuana-based drug Epidiolex to find out if it will help is intractable epileptic seizures.