Category Archives: Health Care

Warm Springs partnership, Year One: strengthening educational connections with GRU

On Wednesday, July 1, Roosevelt Warm Springs Rehabilitation & Specialty Hospitals will commemorate its one year affiliation with Georgia Regents Health System with an on-site celebration for its employees.

State Rep Debbie Buckner
State Representative Debbie Buckner (center with red necklace) joins anniversary celebration at Warm Springs

“Two years ago, the Governor invited us to come and see what we could do for Warm Springs, so from July 1, 2013, to July 1, 2014, we came in and helped manage the site and evaluate the situation from a GRHealth perspective,” said David Mork, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer. “Then, a year ago, we created a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation to run Warm Springs. The fear was that the facility would have to close down, but of course that didn’t have to happen if we could come in and help bring the hospitals back to life, which is what we’re doing now.”

Roosevelt Warm Springs, located about 40 miles northeast of Columbus, Georgia, was founded by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1927 as a polio treatment center, becoming known throughout the world for the quality of its care. In 1974, the state of Georgia assumed operation of the Foundation hospital, turning it into a medical rehabilitation facility specializing in brain and spinal cord injury, orthopedic and stroke rehabilitation, and other general rehabilitation services.

Currently the scenic, 900-acre campus is home to an inpatient acute care rehab facility and a long-term acute care hospital, both of which are part of the partnership agreement, and a vocational rehab program that is run by the state.

“The inpatient rehab hospital has a length of stay of about 14 days on average,” Mork said. “They come in for intense rehab and then usually about 70 or 80 percent of our patients go directly home.”

WSPatients at the Long Term Acute Care Hospital require more specialized care and consequently have longer stays.

The Warm Springs partnership has allowed GRU to strengthen its connection with the facility, particularly in terms of education.

“When we started, there was quite a bit of education going on, especially in nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy,” Mork said. “But what we’ve done over the last year is grow that, increasing the ties with GRHealth and GRU.”

Warm Springs added a faculty member in physical therapy about six months ago as well as a faculty member from the physician’s side. Additional ties with the physician’s assistant program were made about 10 months ago, and Mork said he’s currently in conversation with the respiratory therapy program.

“I think it’s been a great relationship for everybody,” Mork said. “Part of our mission has been to continue to build and strengthen the educational component, and I think we’re doing just that.”

To view photos from the anniversary celebration, click here.

10 Ways to Reduce Your Skin Cancer Risk

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Warmer days are here, encouraging outdoor activities such as swimming, walking, gardening, or even just being outside to soak up the sunshine. But exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is the leading cause of skin cancer, says Dr. Loretta Davis, Chief of Dermatology at Georgia Regents Medical Center and a Professor at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

“It only takes a few minutes to apply sunscreen, and with today’s sprays, it can be applied in mere seconds. But, surprisingly, only about 30 percent of American adults use sun-protection measures,” said Davis.

To reduce your risk of being among the nearly 1 million people diagnosed with skin cancer this year, Davis recommends following these 10 sun safety precautions:


  1. Know your enemy. There are two types of UV light:  Ultraviolet A and Ultraviolet B rays.  UVA rays, which are constant throughout the day, penetrate deep into skin, producing the aging associated with chronic sun exposure such as skin sagging, loss of elasticity, pigment changes, deep wrinkles, and dry skin. UVB rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and are the cause of sunburn. Even on cloudy days, UVB rays can still burn your skin. Both UVA and UVB rays cause skin aging and increase risk of skin cancer.
  2. All complexions are susceptible. People with fair skin and blond or red hair may burn more easily and quickly, but those with darker skin must be protected too. Sun damage affects every skin type.
  3. Apply and reapply sunscreen. I recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has a Sun Protection Factor of at least 15.  SPF measures how long it takes sunscreen-protected skin to begin to burn, or turn red, as compared to unprotected skin. For instance, if it takes unprotected skin 10 minutes to burn, then skin protected with an SPF value of 15 will take 150 minutes, or two and a half hours, to burn. A recent report suggested routine use of SPF 70 to compensate for the fact that most adults do not use a thick enough coating of sunscreen. It is said that a “shot glass” of sunscreen is necessary to cover exposed areas of the body and most people do not use enough. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating, in which case a water-resistant variety should be used.
  4. Proper attire will help. When you can, wear protective, tightly woven clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt and pants.  Light colored, loosely woven clothing may only have an SPF of 2. Consider buying a few items of “sun protective clothing” which have advertised SPF or UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 50+. This type of clothing is perfect for working in the yard and taking a walk on the beach, optimally early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Also, a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses are important for protecting the delicate skin on your face and your eyes. Be sure your sunglasses have UVA and UVB protection, which should filter at least 80 percent of the sun’s rays.
  5. Watch out for reflective surfaces.  Know that UV reflection from sand, water, and pavement cement can redirect up to 85 percent of the sun’s damaging rays. So, UV can damage the skin even when you are sitting in the shade of a big tree or under a beach umbrella.
  6. Protect little ones. Children are at risk, too. Keep newborns out of the sun. Minimize sun exposure and apply sunscreen to children 6 months and older who are outdoors. Most skin cancers occur in older adults, but skin damage from the sun begins at an early age. Therefore, protection should start in childhood to prevent skin cancer later in life.
  7. Know when to head for shade. If your shadow is shorter than you are, you’re more likely to get sunburn. This means the sun is near its zenith, or its highest – and hottest – point of the day. When your shadow is short, seek the shade or head indoors to better protect yourself during the most intense rays.
  8. Avoid Tanning Beds. If you love the look of tanned skin, find a good self-tanner not a tanning bed. Artificial UVA rays in tanning booths not only inflict the same type of skin and eye damage as the sun, but may be as much as 20 times stronger than natural sunlight.
  9. Know your skin. Examine your skin from head-to-toe monthly. If you see some change in your skin, have it checked immediately by your doctor. Early detection is important.
  10. Get an annual screening. See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.


“While a suntan may look attractive, it is actually your skin’s way of telling you it has been damaged by sun exposure,” said Davis.


The deeper the tan, the more your skin is fighting to protect itself from sun damage and skin cancer. Keep this in mind the next time you want to bask in the sun.


Dr. Davis is a highly sought-after speaker and an award-winning dermatologist who was been recognized as one of the top doctors in the country. She is a graduate of Miami University and The Ohio State College of Medicine.




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.

7 safety tips to keep July 4 fun

AUGUSTA, GA. – The Fourth of July is one of America’s favorite holidays. It’s our nation’s birthday, and most people like to top off the celebration with fireworks. Although fireworks are fun and colorful, they can be dangerous to everyone around.

On average, about 200 people will go to the ER with fireworks-related injuries each day around the Fourth of July holiday, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“Most of the injuries we see involve burns,” said Dr. Natalie Lane, Medical Director of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia Emergency Department. “For example, a sparkler can burn as hot as a blow torch; and, unfortunately, we have had to treat children with sparkler burns several times. But these are avoidable injuries, if families will carefully follow safety procedures.”

Here are some tips Dr. Lane recommends to help keep your July 4 fun:

  1. Always read and follow directions on the label carefully.
  2. Adults should always supervise young children when around fireworks. Even sparklers, which are assumed to be safe, should be supervised, as they can reach to 1000 degrees, and can cause severe burns.
  3. If a firework is deemed a “dud” after not going off once lighted, do not stand near it to see what’s wrong. Instead, wait 15-20 minutes; then put the “dud” out with water and dispose of it.
  4. Never shoot fireworks off in metal or glass containers. Instead light them outdoors on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, leaves, or other flammable materials.
  5. Always keep some type of water source on hand in case of fire. A large bucket of water or garden hose will do the trick.
  6. Light fireworks one at a time. Lighting multiple fireworks simultaneously could result in the person setting the fireworks to catching fire or being hit by a firework that goes off early.
  7. Do not use fireworks where prohibited by law. However, if they are legal in your area, be sure to buy them from a reputable seller.

The 154-bed CHOG 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 CHOG at and

Adaptive water sports set for Saturday

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Isabelle Green is counting down the days to Saturday. That’s when the eight-year-old, living with the challenges of arthrogryposis, will experience a day drenched in fun as GRHealth and Champions Made From Adversity team up again for adaptive water skiing at Lake Thurmond.

“Isabelle looks forward to the ski clinic every year,” her mom Tania Green said. “Her favorite event is tubing, but what she likes most is being with her friends from children’s rehab outside of a hospital setting.”

Children born with arthrogryposis have joint contractures, or stiffening; their joints don’t move as much as normal and may be stuck in one position. Most contractures happen in the arms and the legs, but they can also affect the jaw and the spine.

“Isabelle deals with multiple contractures in her limbs and has no flexibility in her hands,” Green said. “But that doesn’t stop her from enjoying her time at the lake.”

Children and adults ages 6 to 80 with physical or cognitive disabilities have the opportunity to adaptively ski, swim, and take rides on inner tubes and boats at Points West Army Resort, a picturesque military retreat in Appling on the 71,000-acre lake. Children’s events are set for 10 a.m., and adult activities begin at 1:30 p.m.

To register as a volunteer or a participant, or for more information on the adaptive ski clinic, please visit, or call GRHealth Rehabilitation Services at 706-721-9737.

Chinese physicians prepare to return home after three-month exchange of ideas

As part of the Confucius Institute’s mission for building bridges between Georgia Regents University and China, four Chinese physicians from Nanjing are finishing up a three-month visit, looking at the differences in health care between the two countries.

The four practice medicine at the Jiangsu Province Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, located in Nanjing, a city of roughly eight million people.

Dr. Gang Xu, Dr. Xianhui Zhu, Dr. Jing Tao, Dr. Feng Guo

Not surprisingly, population is a factor in the differences they found.

“In China, we have a lot of patients,” said nephrologist Dr. Jing Tao. “And they don’t need to make an appointment to see the doctor, so if they have questions, they just go to the hospital to see the doctor.”

Cardiologist Dr. Xianhui Zhu agreed.

“In China, we don’t have family doctors, so the patients can choose the physicians by themselves,” she said. “They don’t need a referral. Patients in our hospital come to see the doctors at any time, but I have found at GRHealth, they have to schedule first unless they have an emergency case.”

To get a true feeling for American health care, the visiting physicians have shadowed their GRU counterparts.

“It’s been very nice,” Zhu said. “In the cardiology department, the physicians have an extraordinary agenda for me, so every day I can follow a different physician so I can learn a lot from them.”

Though the focus has been the exchange of medical information and practices, not all of the experiences have been medical. Last week, the four received a lecture about – and later instruction in – the game of golf from Kuan Kuo, a local golfer. Kuo, an onsite reporter for the Golf Channel who also owns Sho Chin Restaurant Group, was preparing to travel to Seattle to cover this week’s U.S. Open.

Kuan Kuo explains golf at the Confucius Institute

None of the four had every golfed before, which isn’t surprising, given the prohibitive cost of the pastime in China.

“In China, it’s still considered a luxury activity and not really a sport,” Kuo said. “It’s very exclusive, and China is a communist country, so it really doesn’t like the classification of people.”

While it might be easier to dwell on such differences, Zhu said it’s equally important to recognize those things that both countries have in common.

“I’ve found the mission of our own hospital and GRHealth is the same, because we are both focused on patient-centered health and care,” she said.

And while the way they practice medicine might be different, the medicine itself is the same … sort of. Though traditional Chinese medicine is far from traditional here in the U.S., physician exchanges similar to this have aided in the dissemination of medical knowledge in all directions.

“I’ve found a lot of physicians have come to China to give a lecture and they are also curious about China and traditional Chinese medicine,” Zhu said. “I find most of them have a comprehensive attitude of medicine – not just Western medicine, but also medicine that comes from other countries, such as traditional Chinese medicine. So we talk about integrating medicine.”

That integration, she said, is a growing priority in China.

“Western medicine has rapidly developed, but we have a lot of clinical experiences in traditional Chinese medicine,” she said. “So how to express traditional Chinese medicine to the world and how to combine Eastern and Western medicine are the most popular topics for the researchers in China.”

Here, that integration led to some entertaining moments during their visit.

“At GRU, we have the Confucius Institute, and they gave the students some lessons about Chinese culture and traditional medicine, which we attended,” Tao said. “One of the classes was tai chi, which was very interesting, because the teacher was American.”

In the end, such things served to bring everyone closer together.

“I want to express our thanks to GRU and everyone here,” Zhu said. “This has been a memorable experience, and while we will be glad to return to our friends in China, we will miss our new friends at GRU.”

Know your ABCs of pool safety

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Drowning is the number one killer of children under the age of 5.

“What makes this statistic even more tragic is that these young children are more likely to drown in a residential swimming pool than in any other body of water,” said Dr. Natalie Lane, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

“What we often hear in the emergency room is that a group was gathered at the pool for an event or party, but no one was taking ownership of watching the children in the pool,” said Lane. “Unfortunately, folks think someone else is watching the kids, or falsely assume that everyone is keeping an eye out. This is where the trouble begins.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents avoid installing a swimming pool until children are over age 5. However, if you own a pool, or use one, Lane recommends that you follow the “ABCs” of pool safety:

Abide by the Rules
• Never leave children alone in or near the pool.
• Children should be supervised by an adult who can swim.
• Maintain a clear, unobstructed view of children at all times.
• Do not substitute inflatable flotation devices for approved life vests.
• Keep children from playing or swimming near pool drains, pipes and other openings.
• After your family is done swimming, remove toys and floats from pool area that could attract children to the water.

Be Prepared
• Teach children how to swim; at the very least, they should learn basic water safety tips.
• Parents and caregivers should learn CPR and rescue breathing. The key to better outcomes in near drowning is bystander CPR.
• Don’t panic. If your child is missing, look for him or her in the pool first.
• Formulate an emergency action plan with your children and rehearse each family member’s role.
• Keep a phone available at the poolside in case of emergencies.

Childproof Your Pool

• Install a self-latching and self-closing fence around the pool area. Fences should be at least 4 feet high.
• A safety cover should be placed over the water area when the pool is not in use.
• Keep rescue equipment and emergency phone numbers poolside.
• Install a pool alarm to alert you when children are near the water.
• Have a qualified professional inspect drain suction fittings and covers on a regular basis to ensure they meet current safety standards.

Swimming provides great fun and exercise for kids. But always remember to play it safe during pool time.

The 154-bed CHOG 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 CHOG at and

Join us: Camp Lakeside groundbreaking June 22

The Family YMCA of Greater Augusta and the Children’s Hospital of Georgia will break ground at 11 a.m. Monday, June 22, to kick off renovations at Camp Lakeside, a 100-acre camp located on beautiful Lake Thurmond.

CampLakesideInteriorCampSignSketchesCamp Lakeside has long served Family Y camps, but with renovations and new construction to include a medical facility and multi-purpose building in the first phase, it will also serve the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.
CHOG camps are hoping to relocate from Rutledge, Ga., to the Lincolnton, Ga. Camp on 1238 Dogwood Drive – which is closer to CHOG.

Upon completion of all construction, this site will host the traditional Family Y camps, along with the CHOG camps, including Camp Rainbow for cancer patients, Camp Joint Venture for children with juvenile arthritis, Camp Sweet Life for diabetic patients, Camp Strong Hearts for heart patients, and Camp Share and Care for families with children with new cancer diagnoses. Future plans include an outdoor pool and 10 adapted cabins.

“Camp Lakeside will enable sick children treated at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia an opportunity to enjoy a typical summer camp experience,” said Kimberly Allen, Manager of Child and Adolescent Life at CHOG and Director of Camp Rainbow. “Through the support of our community and medical team, more children will be able to forget about their illness and enjoy the outdoors as well as other summer camp fun, in closer proximity to our hospital.”

The groundbreaking is open to the public. Please RSVP to Katie Duncan at the Family Y at or 706-829-0164.

Fixing Ronald’s heart

11259687_10150581688584999_5830558428567303930_nThe most selfless causes are those that become personal missions.

Three Georgia Regents University physician assistant students showed the world just what selflessness means when they took it upon themselves to save the life a 15-year-old Ugandan boy named Ronald.

Ronald was born with a life-threatening condition known as congenital atrial septal defect (ASD). To truly understand the dangers of ASD, however, one must first understand the heart.

The normal human heart is separated into four chambers – the right and left atria, and the right and left ventricles, respectively. In a healthy heart, a dividing wall known as the interatrial septum prevents blood from the left atria from entering the right atria directly, forcing the blood to instead circulate through the entire heart. Ronald’s heart, however, has a small hole in its interatrial septum. As a result, the right side of his heart works much harder than necessary to compensate, resulting in an abnormal, visible heartbeat.

Sufferers of ASD often have extreme difficulty with physical exertion. In Ronald’s case, he is often unable to make the trip to school, more than a mile’s walk from his village. He is also unable to play soccer, a sport he follows religiously.

In the United States, ASD is most often treated before it becomes a threat to its victim’s health. Unfortunately, Ronald, whose family lives nine hours away from the nearest cardiologist, is in life-threatening danger.

Shelby Boggus, James Torrell, and Lauren Beatty, three GRU PA students who visited Kabale, Uganda, for their clinical rotation, met Ronald after a social worker brought him to a clinic for a checkup.

After meeting Ronald, and later meeting his family, Boggus, Torrel, and Beatty, along with their colleague Alana D’Onofrio, set up a GoFundMe campaign to pay the $30,000 surgery needed to save the boy’s life. As of June 8, the campaign had raised more than $15,000 dollars. The remaining amount was donated on June 9 by the Daniels family in honor and memory of their father, Ted Daniels.

Scheduled in July, surgeons from America, Canada, India, and South Africa will attempt to fix Ronald’s ASD at the Uganda Heart Institute.

With luck, Ronald may soon have the chance to lead a normal life.

Hernandez’s love of mentorship opens doors to research

When Dr. Caterina Hernandez, Assistant Professor in Pharmacology and Toxicology, returned to GRU after over a decade away, she found a lot had changed, not only with the school, but with herself as well.

She’d only been living in Galveston, Texas, for about a month when Hurricane Ike devastated the Gulf Coast, and though she was new to the area, she rolled up her sleeves with the rest of her neighbors and helped out in the aftermath. In her case, helping out meant lending a hand at a local K-8 school with science fair projects.

“Nobody wanted to go there, and their science teacher was new to teaching middle school science and setting up hypothesis-driven projects,” she said. “So I went over there and started volunteering and said, ‘Okay, I really like this teaching thing.’”

Though she’d worked with graduate students and postdocs before, this was different. This was rewarding at an entirely different level.

“It was just the best experience,” she said. “I ended up falling in love with mentoring and with the whole population over there.”

While she eventually moved away, that love of mentoring stayed with her, following her all the way back to GRU, where she is currently introducing undergraduate research students to her lab as part of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (CURS) Summer Scholars program.

“I had a very difficult time coming up,” she said. “I didn’t have anyone to give me an edge or give me an opportunity, so I always said that once I got up here, I would help somebody who didn’t have the means or the edge to get in. When I saw this CURS opportunity, I was like – oh, I’m going to write for that and see if I can get three undergraduates.”

The CURS Summer Scholars program, which is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Dr. Carol Rychly, Vice President for Academic and Faculty Affairs, and Dr. Michael Diamond, Senior Vice President for Research, introduces undergraduates to research through a special summer program. For a small stipend, select students agree to work 20 hours per week at the faculty member’s discretion.

This summer, 13 research programs were chosen, each staffed with three undergraduates, though Hernandez added a fourth student through the Student Training and Research program (STAR), which provides biomedical research experience for undergraduate students who plan to pursue a graduate education in biomedical sciences.

Hernandez, who admits to being intimidated by her first lab opportunity, is committed to smoothing the way for her students.

“I worked for a drug company – it was just blind luck somebody got me in there – and I was terrified, because all the other students with me went to magnet schools and had an edge,” she said. “I was in fear, and I would go home every night and massively study. It just always stressed me out.”

She remembers being afraid to ask questions because she didn’t want people to think she was stupid.

“People are intrinsically nice, but I just didn’t know that at the time,” she said. “I see that insecurity with my students now, so I reassure them that any question is fine.”

While she expects mistakes, she insists the students tell her when they make them. When they do, if it’s a mistake she can’t fix or hasn’t done herself before, she gives them a free lunch award.

That’s the thing about science, she said. Everyone makes mistakes, and once you realize that, the whole thing becomes less intimidating.

Although supportive of undergraduate research, she did have to sell her boss on the idea of taking three unseasoned undergraduates into the lab for the summer. She also had to simplify the design and methods of the research project, which is looking at the effects of organophosphates on brain structure, to ensure its completion during the six-week period.

To do that, she fell back on lessons she had learned from a project she worked on in Alabama, where she went from having knowledgeable graduate students to green work-study students who just wanted to take the money and go. For that project, she developed a color-coded strategy, and while this summer’s rising sophomores don’t need quite that much hand holding, they’ve proved challenging in their own way.

Their enthusiasm, however, has been encouraging.

One student, for example, wanted to be part of the program so bad, she dropped one of her classes to do it. Given the fact that she’s taking a full load over the summer, that was a considerable commitment.

“I was like – okay, I’ve got to take her now,” Hernandez said with a smile.

Dejah Johnson, a track athlete who is planning on a career as a physical therapist, was inspired to seek out research opportunities after a high school summer camp.

“I talked to our director of research, and she told me the different opportunities at the school. But at the time, all of them had already been taken, so I was waiting for next year,” she said. “But then I heard about this opportunity, so I emailed Dr. Hernandez and got the opportunity.”

Johnson, who said she had never been to the Health Sciences Campus other than to work out at the gym or to meet friends, is precisely the kind of student Hernandez is looking to help.

“And at that age, I didn’t have the confidence to come bug people, so I got really lucky to get this award and be able to choose from a bunch of students who really needed this opportunity,” she said. “I really wanted to do this. It was a significant part of my life in Texas, and I had to figure out a way to do it here.”

The fact that it’s helping build a bridge between the two campuses just makes it all that much better.