Category Archives: Health Care


$120,000 donation given for Camp Lakeside

On behalf of Club Car, the Ingersoll Rand Foundation donated $120,000 to the Family YMCA of Greater Augusta and Children’s Hospital of Georgia to support the renovation of Camp Lakeside in Lincoln County. The goal is to create an adapted camp facility for children with special needs and life-threatening conditions, including cancer and diabetes.

Many of CHOG’s patients and families will benefit from a camp that is housed closer to the Children’s Hospital, as most of the existing camps would be relocated there. Officials say the camp could be ready by 2016.

In the picture with the ceremonial check are (L-R): Danny McConnell, President and CEO of the Family YMCA of Greater Augusta; Jim Mumford, Administrator of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia; and Club Car Representatives Trish Yount, Operations Manager; Marc Dufour, President and CEO; Bryan Mash, Vice President of Human Resources; and Jason Goldberg, Vice President of Services.


Dance Dash on Saturday supports CHOG

AUGUSTA, Ga. – You can get some exercise and have a little fun at the inaugural Dance Dash 5K, benefiting the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, in the CHOG circular drive, this 5K with a twist combines dancing, running, and walking to raise funds for the area’s only children’s hospital.

Don’t know how to dance? No problem. Instructors from Pulse Dance Center will teach steps at three stations along the route. At the finish line, participants will combine the moves they’ve learned in a flash mob dance finale.

Registration, which includes a T-shirt, is $35 and can be completed in advance through the website or at the event beginning at 7 a.m. Participants are encouraged to seek donations for the Children’s Hospital and turn those in at the Dash. For more information, contact Catherine Stewart at or 706-721-4004.

Dance Dash 5K is sponsored by Coke, WRDW-TV News12, The Bradley Schools, Barney’s Pharmacy, First Bank of Georgia, and All Star Transportation.

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

UHC Certifies GRMC to Submit Clinical Early

GRMC has success fully completed a rigorous evaluation process to become certified by UHC to submit our clinical data early. GRMC will now submit the data to UHC on the 10th of the month versus 45 days after the end of the month.

This is very important to the medical center as we initiate six specific performance improvement projects over the coming months. We can track how our improvements are impacting our patient outcomes in almost real-time.

From Allen Juris at UHC, “you have successfully joined your peers in the elite group that maintains well-honed processes to enable early submissions. Not everyone has staff that are able to support this program.


GRU fires up for Great American Smoke Out

The Georgia Regents University Cancer Center, Georgia Prevention Institute, and the GRHealth Respiratory Therapy Program will set up eight Commit to Quit stations Nov. 20 as part the Great American Smoke Out.

Commit to Quit stations are open to students, faculty, staff, and the community, and offer tools and tips to assist smokers in overcoming nicotine, taming their urge to smoke, and changing their tobacco-related behaviors.

The following stations will be available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Health Sciences Campus:

  • Cancer Center Outpatient Clinic lobby
  • Main Hospital lobby
  • Main Hospital, Terrace Dining
  • Children’s Hospital of Georgia lobby
  • Medical Office Building lobby

Additional stations will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Health Sciences and Summerville campuses:

  • Student Center, Health Sciences Campus
  • Annex I, Health Sciences Campus
  • Jaguar Student Activities Center, Summerville Campus

The Great American Smoke Out, held each year on the third Thursday of November, calls attention to the death, illness, and disability caused by smoking and secondhand smoke and is designed to help smokers quit.

Nationally, smoking accounts for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths. This year, according to National Cancer Institute estimates, 160,000 men and women will die from lung and bronchus cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one in five deaths are due to smoking or secondhand smoke. In Georgia 11,000 lives are lost due to smoking every year.

“Our community cannot afford to lose another life to smoking cigarettes and to secondhand smoke,” said Martha Tingen, Director of the GRU Cancer Center’s Tobacco Control Program. “The Smoke Out is designed to remind us of that and to let smokers and their loved ones know resources and help in quitting are available.”

Active smokers or their family members can also get information about the GRU Cancer Center’s Cessation Services at 706-721-6744 or

The Cancer Center also offers a free lung cancer screening to qualifying long-term smokers. For more information, call 706-446-LUNG (5864) or visit

The GRU Cancer Center is a multidisciplinary academic cancer center focused on both research and clinical treatment. Its patient-centered approach to treatment includes first-in-the-nation treatment protocols, an experimental therapeutics program that includes specialized clinics for Phase I trials and immunotherapy, and a variety of ancillary programs – including music therapy and genetic counseling – designed with holistic healing in mind.



Nursing Strategic Planning Summit inspires clinical excellence

The 2014 Nursing Strategic Planning Summit was held Tuesday, Nov. 11. Nursing’s overarching theme is “In Pursuit of Nursing Clinical Excellence.” Over 85 people throughout Nursing Services inpatient, outpatient, Radiology, College of Nursing, etc., attended the full-day summit. The morning was inspiring with dynamic speakers from Georgia Regents University, Georgia Regents Medical Center, the College of Nursing, Philips Healthcare, and Cerner including:

  1. Peter F. Buckley, MD

“Leadership and Clinical Care … People Make the Place”

  1. Therese Fitzpatrick, PhD, RN

“Nursing’s Role in Redesigning the System of Care”

  1. Lucy N. Marion, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAANP

“Potentials of Partnerships”

  1. Gerald McGinnis, RN, MSN

“Excellence in Nursing – The Why Behind What We Do”

  1. Kevin C. Dellsperger, MD, PhD

“GRMC Journey to Performance Excellence”

  1. Laura Brower, RN, MSN

“In Pursuit of Nursing Clinical Excellence”

The afternoon was filled with break-out sessions focusing on tactics for nursing’s six strategic objectives. The six objectives embraced by nursing are:

  • The most preferred place to work for RNs
  • Patients are always satisfied and physicians desire to practice
  • Systematic and targeted community service
  • Evidence-based practice model drives care
  • Effective and efficient resource management
  • Recognized as a national leader in nursing

Closing Remarks were given by Steven M. Scott, MPH, FACHE, Chief Operating Officer. The focus for nursing across the enterprise is leading change, advancing health care, and achieving clinical excellence.


Azziz white coat

Tune in tonight: Dr. Azziz discusses PCOS

Tune in to WJBF News Channel 6 at 6 and 11 tonight for special coverage on Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome that includes insight from Georgia Regents University President Dr. Ricardo Azziz, an expert in the reproductive disorder.

You also will hear about PCOS from a patient’s perspective. This news feature is one of the local ABC station’s “sweeps pieces” being broadcast during the November television ratings period.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome affects as many as 5 million women in the United States and is one of the chief causes of infertility. The disease also is linked to diabetes and other persistent health problems.

“It is important as researchers, clinicians, and a community to raise awareness about PCOS. We hope to better understand the disease and those who suffer from it, and to develop better treatments,” said Azziz.


Major blood vessel constrictor contributes to vision loss in premies

AUGUSTA, Ga. – A gene known to play a major role in constricting blood vessels also appears to be a major player in the aberrant blood vessel growth that can destroy the vision of premature babies.

Endothelin gene expression is greatly increased in the retinal tissue of a mouse model of retinopathy of prematurity, a condition that significantly affects about 1,500 infants annually, resulting in blindness in about half those babies, according to researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

The finding points toward a new therapy to help prevent the damage as well as a broader role for endothelin, known as a powerful blood pressure regulator, which also appears to have a role in blood vessel formation, said Dr. Chintan Patel, MCG postdoctoral fellow and first author of the study in The American Journal of Pathology.

Despite long-standing strategies to give premature newborns the lowest oxygen therapy possible to protect fragile, immature tissues such as the retina while providing adequate support to vital organs, vision damage remains an ongoing concern in neonatal intensive care units, said Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, Chief of the MCG Section of Neonatology.

In addition to immediate impacts on vision, the condition increases a child’s risk of retinal detachment, nearsightedness, crossed eyes, lazy eye, and glaucoma, according to the National Eye Institute.

The retina is part of the brain and, like the rest of the brain, it continues to develop even after full-term birth, said Dr. Ruth Caldwell, cell biologist at MCG’s Vascular Biology Center and the study’s corresponding author. The soft, three-layered tissue, found at the back of the eye, contains light-sensitive cells, which transform light into a signal for the brain.

The cup-shaped tissue is normally super vascular, but in premature babies, retinas, which are not yet ready to function, likely have not formed blood vessels throughout. Oxygen therapy, necessary to support other organs, further slows blood vessel development so the retina become ischemic. Neurons and supporting cells start secreting proteins and growth factors to try to recuperate from the lack of oxygen and nutrients to these areas, which instead, leads to formation of leaky, malpositioned blood vessels. “There is a dysregulation of growth factors that occurs at a microscopic level,” Patel said.

There are a number of other things happening at the same time, which also are not good. High-oxygen levels also increase levels of oxidative stress, which increases inflammation in the face of decreased production of growth factors needed to produce healthy blood vessels, Patel said.  Blood vessels start growing in every direction, including on top of each other. “We call it pathological neovascularization,” he said.

Protruding blood vessels can create enough stress to actually detach the retina, the main cause of visual impairment and blindness from retinopathy of prematurity, according to the National Eye Institute. Vascular endothelial growth factor, which is essential to neuron growth, is considered a primary culprit in retinopathy of prematurity as well as diabetic retinopathy, in which it contributes to a similar problem with erratic, leaky blood vessel growth that obstructs vision.

In their animal model of retinopathy of prematurity, mice born at term were given high-oxygen levels seven days later, which destroys some of the vessels that have developed and essentially halts the development of new ones as the immature retina continues to develop. They note that even at term, mice eyes remain shut for a few weeks because, as with premature babies, they are not yet ready to function.

Cell sensors that keep up with oxygen exposure, sense too much oxygen and stop growing, so blood vessels don’t form, Caldwell said. The return to normal airs seems like oxygen deprivation by comparison, so, similar to what happens in diabetic retinopathy where retinal blood flow is compromised, mice start growing many, obstructive blood vessels. “In a premature baby, some of the parts of the retina are not fully developed because of high oxygen, so it’s a similar scenario,” Patel said.

When the scientists looked at gene expression in retinal tissue five days after the return to normal air –  considered the peak period of dysregulated blood-vessel growth – they found about a 50-fold increase in the expression of endothelin 2, a potent blood pressure regulator and blood vessel constrictor in normal conditions, and about a three-fold increase in endothelin 1, also a constrictor. There was also a significant increase in endothelin receptors.

Way more vasoconstriction likely translates to far less blood vessel dilation. Endothelin and the equally powerful dilator nitric oxide tend to have a reciprocal relationship, Patel explained. “If you have more endothelin, you have less nitric oxide and vice versa,” he said.

While other genes, including VEGF, had increased expression, endothelin’s was the most dramatic and indicates its role in blood vessel formation. The scientists don’t yet know if it’s a direct effect or secondary to its role in blood pressure regulation. Although the emerging role of endothelin in cancer, where it appears to help tumors survive, indicates a direct one. “We are seeing a lot of the same things here,” Patel said.

Anti-VEGF therapy is often given for diabetic retinopathy and more selectively for retinopathy of prematurity. However, the scientists note that there is increasing evidence that other potential factors may also need regulating.

Endothelin may need to be as well. Because, when they gave endothelin receptor blockers, already used to treat other conditions, to the mice prior to the peak period of dysregulated growth, they helped normalize blood vessel growth.

“What we need is a therapy that does multiple things,” Patel said. Caldwell noted that in diabetic retinopathy, while anti-VEGF therapy is good at stopping dysregulated growth, it doesn’t help spur normal blood vessel growth, which the endothelin receptor blocker did in their studies.

Next steps could include seeing if an endothelin antagonist will also work to correct dysregulated growth after it has occurred and packaging it with anti-VEGF therapy. The research was supported by the National Eye Institute, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Heart Association, and the GRU Culver Vision Discovery Institute.


Perry receives Sodomka Leadership Award

Teri Perry, former Vice President of Adult Patient Care Services at Georgia Regents Medical Center, received the 2014 Patricia K. Sodomka Leadership Award for Patient- and Family-Centered Care during PFCC Awareness Month in October.

The award is named for the late Pat Sodomka, who served as Senior Vice President of Patient- and Family-Centered Care for the hospital and Director of Georgia Regents University’s Center for Patient- and Family-Centered Care. An internationally recognized advocate of PFCC and longtime hospital executive, Sodomka died in 2010 following a four-year battle with breast cancer.

PFCC means partnering with patients and families in their personal health care decisions. By partnering with patients and families – not only involving them in decisions about their care, but also gaining the benefit of their help and insights to better plan and deliver care – hospitals can improve patient care, achieve better outcomes, and increase employee satisfaction.

“Mrs. Perry has been an ambassador for our patients and families since she joined the health care team in 1994. She symbolizes PFCC and is very deserving of this award, from ensuring the training of more than 2,500 employees in PFCC practices to paving the way for a patient advisor to be appointed to the hospital’s ethics council – something that’s rare in health care,” said Erica Steed, Manager of Patient and Family Engagement.

Perry also is credited with helping implement a new Quiet Time practice during designated hours at the adult hospital, and she has represented Georgia Regents University at numerous national conferences and events, educating other health care professionals in PFCC and presenting best practices.


Perry joined the medical center as Nurse Manager of the Cardiac Care Unit and was promoted to various nursing leadership positions during her tenure, assuming the VP role in 2006. She retired Oct. 31 after 20 years of service to the medical center.


Other PFCC Awards

Also during PFCC Month, Tad Gomez, Vice President for Professional Services, was recognized with the PFCC Ambassador Award.

Additionally, eight staff members received a 2014 Family Choice Award for collaborating with patients and families. They are:

  • Mary Alice Bell, Ana Quinlan, and Katie Steiner, all of Rehabilitation Services
  • Debra Marranci, Perioperative Services/8 West
  • Dr. Cheryl Newman, Infectious Disease
  • Donna Posey, Cardiology
  • James “Jim” Rush, Chief Integrity Officer
  • Donna Vasil, Pharmacy

    Georgia Regents Medical Center Vice President and COO Steven Scott (back row, far left) and Administrative Director for Patient- and Family-Centered Care Bernard Roberson (back row, far right) presented 2014 Family Choice Awards to (front row, l-r): Jim Rush, Dr. Cheryl Newman and Mary Alice Bell; and (back row, l-r) Debra Marranci, Katie Steiner, Ana Quinlan, and Donna Vasil for exemplifying the values of Patient- and Family-Centered Care.

GRMC is recognized as a pioneer in PFCC by the American Hospital Association and the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care. As one of the largest such programs in the country, the hospital has more than 150 trained patient and family advisors who sit on councils, quality and safety teams, and facility design processes. For more information on the Patient and Family Advisory Councils or PFCC, please contact the Department of Patient and Family Engagement at 706-721-PFCC (7322).

Sign photo

Parking for patients and visitors to our hospitals and clinics

Parking is a frustration for all of us, whether we’re here for an appointment or showing up for our routine work responsibilities. Patients and visitors entering our hospitals and clinics, who already have their health or that of their loved one on their minds, experience these same parking frustrations. Although there are a number of parking decks and lots across campus, on many days, it is a challenge to find an empty parking space.

Parking availability for patients and visitors is a top priority and the responsibility of the entire GRU and GRHealth community. We appreciate the support of everyone as we work to improve the health care experience for our patients. As a reminder, parking is reserved only for patients and visitors in the following decks until 2 p.m. each day:

  • Medical Center deck on 15th Street, located on the east side of the deck
  • Medical Office Building deck on Harper Street, Levels One, Two, and Three
  • Children’s Hospital of Georgia deck on Harper Street, Level One

Reserved parking for patients and visitors is always available in the following areas:

  • The Clinical Cancer Center deck on Laney Walker Boulevard.
  • Lot 5, located in front of the College of Dental Medicine

The administration is committed to improving parking availability and shuttle operations as part of our Campus Master Planning process, and we expect to see significant improvements in these areas beginning in spring 2015. In the interim, however, we all need to do our part to ensure our patients come first and reserved patient and visitor parking is kept available for our guests.

We thank you for your continued commitment to the health, well-being, and safety of our patients and visitors.

To view the above deck and lot locations on the campus map, visit

Alarm fatigue potential risk to patient care

The Joint Commission, the accreditation and certification organization for health care quality in the U.S., has recently identified Alarm Fatigue as a potential risk to patient care. Alarm management has since become the organization’s newest national patient safety goal.

According to the Joint Commission’s findings, patients in hospitals may be exposed to hundreds or even thousands of alarms during a single hospital stay. This, in turn, results in poor rest and low patient satisfaction overall. In addition, the multitude of alarms makes it difficult for staff to distinguish between genuine medical emergencies and less threatening, or even superfluous, alarms.

Although there is no universal solution to alarm fatigue at present, the Joint Commission stresses that it is important for hospitals to “understand [their] own situations and develop a systematic, coordinated approach” to solving the issue.

Pascha Schafer, Medical Director of the Cardiac Care Unit and member of GRHealth’s Quality Department Council, says measures to counter alarm fatigue are in development. “Our hope as an initial step is to get the word out about Alarm Fatigue,” said Schafer. “Moving forward, we hope to get it on everyone’s radar so they have a point of reference as we implement our interventions.”