Category Archives: Health Care

Special delivery: Quads born at GRMC

When Julianne Kirkland told her husband Matt they were expecting not one, not two, but “three babies, possibly four,” he zoned out while staring at the microwave.

About 15 minutes later, when the shock began to dissipate, Matt told Julianne, “Well, OK. God is really blessing us, so he must think we can handle this.” Then he began to think about how to make room for the babies with two sons Campbell, 5, and Jack, 3, already at their Watkinsville, Ga., home.

QuadAshton Blake.
Ashton Blake is one of the three boys in the set of quadruplets delivered to Matt and Julianne Kirkland at Georgia Regents Medical Center on Saturday, March 21.

Dr. Paul Browne, Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and the Labor & Delivery team at Georgia Regents Medical Center delivered the quadruplets – three boys and a girl – via C-section on Saturday night, March 21. The last time quads were delivered at the hospital was about 18 years ago, as they are very rare.

Julianne Kirkland enjoys some skin-to-skin contact with one of her quads, Walker Hayes, in the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

The Kirklands named the boys Ashton Blake, Walker Hayes, and Meyers Wayne, and the baby girl, whom Matt is already calling the family’s little princess, is named Bradlee Ann. The babies were born at 31 weeks, but all are in good health and being cared for in the Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

Meyers Wayne Kirkland, one of the quads, is being bathed in ultraviolet light as his 31-week body continues to develop.

“Everyone at the hospital has been amazing. We can’t say enough about Dr. Browne and the staff here,” said Julianne on Tuesday as she sat with Matt in the NICU waiting room and talked to a local news reporter. “We feel truly blessed with four healthy babies.”

Matt and Julianne Kirkland have been in the media spotlight since word spread about their quadruplets’ birth on Saturday. Julianne has been blogging about her experience throughout her pregnancy on a special Facebook page called Oh My Quad – Kirkland’s Journey.

The Kirklands hope to take the babies home within the next 7 to 9 weeks where they say they have already been assured of help from their family, church, and community.


Dunk tank, food truck kick off Donate Life Month on April 1

AUGUSTA, Ga. – A Donate Life Day celebration – including radio partners, food truck, and dunk tank – kicks off National Donate Life Month at GRHealth on April 1.

The GRHealth Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program will partner with patient volunteers for the event, which begins at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 1, at the flagpole outside Georgia Regents Medical Center on the corner of 15th and Harper streets.

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis, Jr. will speak, followed by a donor registration drive by the LifeLink Foundation. On site will be WBBQ (104-FM), who will broadcast from the event, and the Fat Man’s Café food truck.

“This event celebrates those that have saved lives through organ donation. We want to honor the gift of organ donation while also raising awareness of the critical need for more donors,” said Dr. Todd Merchen, Surgical Director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program.

In Augusta, more than 1,120 patients are currently on the waiting list for a new kidney or pancreas.

Nationwide, nearly 124,000 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant. More than 1,000 are under the age of 10.

Celebrated in April each year, National Donate Life Month features a range of local, regional, and national activities to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors. At GRHealth, events include Donate Life Night with The Augusta Greenjackets on April 20 and a T-shirt sale.

The purchase of a “Give Life” T-shirt helps fund the development of a commemorative tribute to organ donors and annual ceremony celebrating the gift of life. Purchase a T-shirt or learn more about becoming a living donor.

Motorcyclists deliver big check for CHOG

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The 13th annual Kelsi Long Memorial Ride raised nearly $6,200 for the Children’s Hospital of Georgia on Saturday, March 21. About 150 motorcyclists participated in the fundraiser that has brought in about $75,000 since 2003 when organizer Mike Maddox started the event in memory of his granddaughter Kelsi Long. For more information, visit or


Sporting chrome, leather, and big hearts, nearly 150 motorcyclists and riders surrounded the circular driveway at Children’s Hospital of Georgia to deliver a big check to support the specialized pediatric care needs at the area’s only children’s hospital.
Kelsi - Milla High5
Children’s Hospital of Georgia patient Milla Mooney gets some “high-fives” from a couple of riders during the 13th annual Kelsi Long Memorial Ride.



Course brings drama students into exam room

GRU drama students recently had starring roles in exam rooms.

Physician assistant students are required to interview a ‘patient’ (typically a practicing PA or teaching assistant simulating the role) to obtain a medical history. Last semester, the drama students filled the roles.

Associate Professor Kathy Dexter had heard about a similar set-up at another University System of Georgia campus and approached drama lecturer Doug Joiner, who jumped at the chance to give his students a chance to perform.

“He just latched onto it and said it sounded like a great opportunity for his students,” Dexter said. “So we worked with him and set up the schedule well in advance to accommodate the students.”

Joiner earned his graduate degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, which had a similar program, so the prospect piqued his interest.

“I started researching, and there is a whole field of actor training for the standardized patient,” he said. “In larger markets, actors who are good can make 10 to 20 bucks an hour doing this.”

For the interview, the drama student follows a script with a complaint and a series of responses to anticipated questions from the PA student.

Dexter said the acting students made much more realistic patients because, unlike PAs, they were unfamiliar with medical terminology and didn’t know what the PA students were supposed to be asking.

The interviews, typically 20 minutes, were recorded in a realistically appointed mock exam room.

“I think the drama students were a little surprised when they walked in,” Dexter said. “They said it looked just like their doctor’s office.”

After the 44 PA students finished interviewing the 13 drama students (many of whom pulled double duty), both course instructors evaluated the videos to gauge their students’ performances.

“They surprised me,” Joiner said of his acting students. “I told them I wished they’d act that well for me in class, but if they do their good stuff outside, that’s good.”

Assistant PA Professor Stevie Redmond said she felt the joint participation exemplified GRU’s ability to capitalize on its new interdisciplinary relationships.

“I thought it would be a positive reflection of consolidation and how the two campuses have come together and are working together,” Redmond said. “Now that we’ve consolidated, we have so many resources on the Summerville Campus to help our students and help their students work together and get to know each other.”

Josh Turner concert pulls $45,000 for kids’ camps

AUGUSTA, Ga. – An acoustical performance by country music’s Josh Turner on March 18 brought in nearly $45,000 to help equip the Family Y’s Camp Lakeside to serve Children’s Hospital of Georgia patients. The Family YMCA of Greater Augusta and CHOG are collaborating to ensure that children of all abilities have access to life-changing outdoor recreation and therapeutic programs. The renovated camp on Lake Thurmond in Lincoln County will be transformed from its current rustic condition to better serve children with disabilities and serious or chronic health conditions in a medically safe environment. For more information about Camp Lakeside, visit the


Match Day: success in the jungle

In a day that saw frogs hugging squirrels and bananas and gorillas living together in perfect harmony, 181 MCG students gathered at the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons to receive and open the envelops that contained their “what’s next.”

“I’m not sure I have a stomach anymore,” said Rachel Marks. “My ulcer actually climbed up my esophagus.”

16667944837_6923f2be9b_hMarks’ envelope contained the news that she would start her residency right here, which was her first choice. The Augusta native was thrilled.

“My mom’s elated,” she said. “I’m excited to be here and be near my parents and to be doing dermatology.”

All across the nation, senior medical students opened similar envelops and found out where they would be receiving their postgraduate specialty training.

In Athens, 39 students enrolled in the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership went through a comparable, though more reserved, ceremony.

MCG’s theme, “Welcome to the Jungle,” drew enthusiastic participation from everyone, including Medical College of Georgia Dean Peter Buckley, who wore full khaki and looked ready to go on safari.

16687631680_c6bd8449ac_hAccording to the Association of American Medical Colleges, nearly 35,000 U.S. and international students applied for one of the more than 27,000 first-year residency positions offered in this year’s Main Residency Match.

Here, this year’s class had an impressive 97.7 percent match rate, with students headed to programs in 35 states. Thirty percent will remain in Georgia for their first and second postgraduate year, with 20 percent remaining at MCG/GRHealth.

They matched in 18 specialties, and 40 percent are pursuing primary care, including Chris Ellington, who got exactly what he wanted.

“I’m staying right here,” he said with a smile. “I love Augusta. The people are nice, and there are just friendly faces everywhere.”

After an agonizing week of waiting, his relief was obvious.

“You knew on Monday whether or not you matched, but you didn’t know where,” he said. “So there’s lots of nerves. The people with the best costumes are probably the most nervous.”

Lindsey Carter and Janelle McGill, who along with several other friends dressed up to form a gaggle of geese, got their first choices, too – Carter to Greenville, South Carolina, and McGill here in Augusta.

16849142736_7f3065a66e_n“All of us (in the gaggle) either got a number one or a number two choice,” Carter said.

Underlying the party atmosphere, however, was the fundamental significance of what was occurring.

“This is a great moment in your career,” Buckley told them before the names were drawn. “You will remember this for the rest of your career, so enjoy the next couple of weeks. They are very, very special.”

Relaxing with friends after the ceremony, Ellison seemed to agree.

“It’s the end of something, but the beginning of something as well,” he said. “We had a really good class. They put in the extra work, and it paid off.”

For additional photos, click here.

For the Match Day highlight video, click here.

GRU to offer new doctoral degree in applied health sciences

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The College of Allied Health Sciences at Georgia Regents University will offer a new doctoral degree in applied health sciences – the first program of its kind in the University System of Georgia.

“Applied health sciences is a vital source of new knowledge for today’s society, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to produce professionals who will be able to discover new solutions to the health care needs of our communities,” said Dr. Andrew Balas, Dean of College of Allied Health Sciences at GRU. “We are pleased to have in place faculty who are ready to lead the research and educational efforts to make this a successful doctoral program known for responding to real problems of practice.”

This three-year, interdisciplinary doctoral program is designed to equip health professionals with the skills to solve health care issues in numerous fields of allied health. Graduates will be clinically oriented and prepared for roles in evidence-based practice or as faculty in allied health fields.

The coursework offers innovative and advanced research training in three concentration areas: rehabilitation science, health care outcomes, and diagnostic sciences.

Application deadline is May 31, 2015. For more information, call GRU’s College of Allied Health Sciences at 706-721-2621 or visit


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.

Watch: TV crew films heart surgery

Check out this WJBF-TV News Channel 6 feature story: An Augusta man with no symptoms ended up having five bypasses during open-heart surgery.

Following a routine checkup, Wayne Curtis was sent for a stress test and then a heart catheterization, which revealed three blocked arteries that needed repair.  However, once in surgery, Drs. Vinayak Kamath and Vijay Patel discovered two additional blockages and performed a quintuple bypass surgery on Curtis.

WJBF was in the Operating Room during the surgery and interviewed Curtis about three weeks later at his follow-up appointment at the GRHealth Cardiovascular Center.

Four ways to prevent hearing loss in young people

AUGUSTA, Ga. – A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that more than 1 billion teens and young adults are at risk hearing loss.

After studying the listening habits of 12 to 35 year olds, WHO discovered nearly half of them listened at unsafe sound levels on their personal audio devices and many are exposed to damaging levels of noise at various music and sporting venues.

It is up to each of us to protect our hearing, says Dr. Stephanie Barrett, Director of Audiology at GRHealth, because once you lose it, it will not come back. She suggests the following tips to help children practice safe listening:

1. Limit exposure to loud noises. It does not take much to permanently damage your hearing. In fact, being exposed for long periods of time to noises such as the sound of a vacuum cleaner can cause permanent hearing loss. Parents are encouraged to educate their children on the importance of safe noise levels and help them incorporate hour-long listening breaks in their daily routine.
earbuds and hearing loss


2. Turn down the volume: When it comes to personal listening devices, do not exceed 60 percent. Also, be aware of the volume levels in your car, because this will also affect your hearing.

3. Use ear protection. The next time you go to a function like a concert or sporting event, use ear protection such as filter plugs, in-ear monitors, or noise-cancelling headphones.

4. Apply volume-restricting technology. If your child is using a listening device and you can hear the sound, it is too loud. There are smartphone apps that can help monitor safe listening levels and many electronics stores now sell sound-limiting headphones and earbuds for children.

“Hearing is a precious faculty and it is never too early to educate your children about the importance of safe listening,” says Barrett.


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.