Category Archives: Health Care

Nurses Week: Blessing of the Hands

Chaplain Brennan Francois says a prayer with nurses at Georgia Regents Medical Center during one of many Blessing of the Hands ceremonies on National Nurses Day during National Nurses Week 2015.

Hospital chaplains roam the hospital floors each year walking from unit to unit to anoint the hands, offer a blessing, and pray with the more than 1,200 nurses who provide care to patients at GRHealth.

Read: Recognize signs of alcohol problem

U.S. News & World Report: May 5, 2015

More than 17 million Americans suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. But not everyone can tell when heavy drinking crosses the line to alcoholism.

To help people identify when drinking becomes a problem, Dr. William Jacobs, chief of addiction medicine at Georgia Regents University’s Medical College of Georgia, outlined five major signs of alcohol abuse or dependence:

One is a high tolerance for alcohol, which means a person drinks increasing amounts of alcohol. Someone with a high tolerance may drink more than others without showing obvious signs of intoxication.

Read full story: Learn to recognize the signs of an alcohol problem

Correctional Health Care receives award

Georgia Regents University’s Division of Georgia Correctional Health Care received the Medical Association of Georgia’s (MAG) Bliven Award for Excellence for the medical care it provides at the Jack T. Rutledge State Prison in Columbus.

The award ceremony took place April 16.

Rutledge is just the seventh prison to receive the honor in the award’s 12-year history.

“It’s only given to a facility that meets all of the essential and important criteria as set forth in the standards,” said Clyde Maxwell, MAG Director of Correctional Medicine. “They’ve got to be squeaky clean, with no findings at all.”

Maxwell was accompanied to the ceremony by Dr. Patton Smith, Chair of the Correctional Medicine Committee, who presented the award.

“MAG surveys every prison in the state that houses prisoners who have been sentenced, and GRU/Jack T. Rutledge State Prison met 100 percent on all essential and applicable standards,” Smith said. “That’s a great accomplishment, and the administrators and health care providers at this facility should be applauded.”

MAG created its Correctional Medicine Committee in the mid-1970s, and the Medical College of Georgia assumed responsibility for the health services contract for state prisons in the 1990s. GRU’s Division of Georgia Correctional Health Care provides health care at more than 60 correctional facilities throughout the state.

“They had no findings whatsoever,” Maxwell said of Rutledge, a medium and minimum security prison where three quarters of the population receives mental health services. “They did everything they should do just the way they should do it.”

GRU, GRHealth celebrate nurses

AUGUSTA, Ga. – In recognition of National Nurses Week, Georgia Regents University and Health System have more than a dozen events planned to highlight and thank nurses for their contributions to quality patient care. National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

Click to view Nurses Week 2015 events

GRU’s College of Nursing events include an ice cream social, workshop, nurses gala, departmental luncheons, and two educational webinars. In addition, the CON Honors Convocation is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday, May 7, at Christenberry Fieldhouse, and commencement is 2 p.m. Friday, May 8, at James Brown Arena.

GRHealth events include dessert receptions, Doughnut Day, a white-out, GRU Blue Day, and multiple unit-specific events.

Shared events during the week are the annual Blessing of the Hands, Pamper a Nurse Day, and a preceptor reception. On Wednesday, May 6, hospital chaplains will walk from unit to unit to share blessings, anoint the hands, and pray with nurses and other staff members beginning at 7 a.m. and ending with a 2:30 p.m. service in the Children’s Hospital of Georgia Chapel. On Friday, nurses will be treated to hand massages in the Dogwood and Magnolia Rooms of the Georgia Regents Medical Center cafeteria from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and on Monday, May 11, nurses will wear traditional white for a Nurse Preceptor Reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the GRU Alumni Center.

This year’s National Nurses Week theme is “Ethical Practice. Quality Care.” It underscores the importance of ethics in nursing and acknowledges the strong commitment, compassion, and care nurses display in their practice and profession. The theme is an important part of the American Nurses Association’s Year of Ethics outreach to promote and advocate for the rights, health, and safety of nurses and patients.

Members of the media should contact Denise Parrish at 706-831-3148 or; or Kelly Jasper at 706-513-0719 or; to arrange the best opportunities for media coverage during Nurses Week.

New cardio center to open at GRHealth

GRHealth’s Heart and Cardiovascular Services will open a new center on campus May 18. The Cardiovascular Center 15th Street will be located at 937 15th Street, Augusta, Georgia, 30912 – the site of the former sports medicine center.

The center will house general cardiology, interventional cardiology, cardiac rehabilitation, and an outpatient echocardiography lab. All services will be available beginning May 18, except for cardiac rehabilitation, which will be available June 1. The center will offer state-of-the-art cardiac rehabilitation monitoring equipment and on-site cardiology diagnostic testing, in addition to convenient parking and close proximity to hospital-based services.

GRHealth’s Heart and Cardiovascular Services will continue to see patients at its two other locations, which include the following with their corresponding services:

  • Cardiovascular Center Chafee Avenue – 1003 Chafee Avenue:
    • Cardiothoracic surgery and vascular surgery pre- and post-operation appointments
    • Electrophysiology
    • Outpatient vascular lab
  • Medical center – 1120 15th Street: In-patient procedures, including catheterization, echocardiography, electrophysiology, and surgery

Enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen has big role in the healthy, injured brain

AUGUSTA, Ga.An enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen appears to have significant impact in a healthy and injured brain, scientists report.

There’s mounting evidence that in the healthy brain, aromatase and the estrogen it enables neurons to produce, helps keep our brains and us nimble. Now scientists are learning that with injury, aromatase and estrogen expression seem to shift to cells in the brain called astrocytes, aiding their support and nurturing of now-stressed neurons, said Dr. Darrell Brann, Regents’ Professor and Vice Chairman of the Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

Several studies, including those in Brann’s lab, have shown this primary shift in aromatase/estrogen expression from neurons to astrocytes following injury. In Brann’s case, the studies have been in the hippocampus, a center of learning, memory, and emotions. When he used a drug to reduce astrocyte’s aromatase expression in that region, increased inflammation and brain damage resulted.

A new $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will enable him to further elucidate the role of aromatase and estrogen in injury and in health and, ideally, point toward therapies that can augment the brain’s apparent effort to heal.

The studies are enabled by the development of several laboratory mice, one with aromatase removed from neurons, another with it missing in astrocytes, and a third with aromatase missing in both brain cell types. The mice were developed by Brann’s lab in collaboration with Dr. Ratna K. Vadlamudi, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center.

“We will be able to tell the cell-specific function of estrogen,” Brann said. “We want to know what happens when they don’t have it. We’ll study the plasticity, the connectivity of neurons in these knockouts, and we’ll study their cognitive function using behavioral tests.” They’ll also see what happens to inflammation and recovery when aromatase expression can’t increase as it probably should following injury.

Brann is not surprised that usually supportive astrocytes would take it up a notch following injury and thinks estrogen is critical to the expanded role. “In a non-injury situation, we see it mostly in the neurons, so it much have some functions such as plasticity and connectivity normally,” he said. Following injury, when astrocytes start making aromatase then estrogen, the emphasis appears to shift to protection and recovery.

He notes that as with every built-in protective mechanism, astrocyte support is not foolproof; sometimes natural recovery mechanisms get overwhelmed by the extent of injury. However, Brann hopes that, in addition to better understanding what estrogen does in the brain normally and following injury, the new studies will point toward new therapies that augment the apparent natural recovery effort.

Aromatase is highly expressed by neurons in a healthy hippocampus. After a traumatic injury or stroke, the high expression appears to shift to astrocytes, a type of glial cell, found in abundance in the central nervous system that normally provide support and cushion for neurons. Astrocytes are known to become more active following brain injury, releasing more supportive, healing factors that many scientists believe also help reduce inflammation and increase their protection of neurons. However, if astrocytes remain activated too long they can also cause problems, including gliosis, which is essentially a scar-like wad of glial cells in the space living neurons previously occupied. “You have to tightly regulate all these factors being released,” Brann said.

Even in culture, neurons will connect and communicate, but when scientists add an aromatase inhibitor to the mix, connectivity is interrupted. Some of the first in vivo studies in zebra finches showed that aromatase levels increased following a brain injury, which also supports a protective role for the protein. More brain damage results when aromatase inhibitors are given. “There seemed to be more inflammation,” Brann said.

Part of what he wants to learn about how estrogen aids brain connectivity and plasticity, is exploring whether it regulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is known to have a role in both.

Brann also plans to pursue the role of aromatase and estrogen in neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s, where there is some early evidence that missing aromatase increases plaque development.

Naturally high estrogen levels in premenopausal women have long been considered protective of stroke as well as heart attacks and other maladies.


MCG is at the top of its game, dean says

A new academic home; a 15 percent increase in medical school applicants; a record-in-recent-history number of seniors choosing the Medical College of Georgia and GRHealth for their residency training; an unprecedented amount of clinical growth; and robust research in a tough funding time.

“It’s a great story, a great journey,” Dr. Peter F. Buckley, MCG Dean said of the nation’s 13th oldest medical school at his annual State of the College address, “Road Trip to Excellence.” “We are branding a message of a medical school that is progressive, that is growing, that has a great story to tell.”

Buckley lauded faculty, students, staff, and residents across MCG’s four campuses as well as alumni who populate the state and nation for the dynamic state of Georgia’s public medical school. He thanked as well physicians, hospitals, and communities across Georgia that have embraced MCG students and enabled a true statewide educational network.

“We have many, many homes across the state, both physically and metaphorically,” Buckley said of three clinical campuses in southwest, northwest, and southeast Georgia, as well as a second four-year campus, the GRU-UGA Medical Partnership in Athens. This year, the Southwest Campus, based in Albany, celebrates a decade of operation, the second cohort of students who attended the Athens campus graduate next week, as do the first group of students who spent their clinical years in the newest campus, based in Rome.

At the home base in Augusta, the new J. Harold Harrison, M.D., Education Commons, continues to draw rave reviews from students, educators, and visitors alike. A recent reviewer for the Liaison Committee on Medical Education commented that he had not seen it’s match in the country, Buckley shared.

That state-of-the-art facility coupled with a long history of educational excellence has helped generate the unprecedented interest in MCG, said Buckley, noting that the 15 percent increase in medical school applicants this year at MCG compares with a 4 percent increase nationally.

Buckley thanked again Dr. J. Harold Harrison, the late 1948 graduate whose $10 million gift generated even more enthusiasm and support for the medical college’s academic home. An additional $66 million gift from Harrison’s estate is enabling an unprecedented number of student scholarships and endowed chairs to help attract and retain more top students and faculty as it builds a culture of philathropy, he said. He called Harrison, “a man who has transformed our medical school. You are seeing it in front of your eyes.”

The energy and synergy permeate the clinical and research arenas as well. Again bucking national trends, MCG and GRHealth are sustaining unprecedented clinical growth while addressing roadblocks such as cancelled clinics.

“We have continued to stay focused, continued to stay robust and develop a research program in probably the most adversarial time in the history of the National Institutes of Health,” Buckley said, encouraging everyone to be proud of their research colleagues.

To watch the 2015 State of the College Address, please visit:

Read: Philips/GRHealth: 18 months later

DotMed: April 30, 2015

On July 1, 2013, Philips Healthcare and Georgia Regents Medical Center embarked on a 15-year partnership worth $300 million to transform the health care delivery model.  Nearly two years later, GRHealth has experienced about $7 million in savings, as well as a 35 percent reduction in technology spending.

Read the full article: Philips and Georgia Regents partner to innovate care delivery model: Two years later





Woman finds kidney donor on Reddit

Pictured above are Kayla Davis (right) and her kidney donor Jennifer Moss in Davis’ room at Georgia Regents Medical Center shortly after the successful transplant surgery. (Photo courtesy of April 30, 2015

Jennifer Moss and Kayla Davis ended up discovering they had much more in common than a blood type and have bonded over a mutual love of pizza and corgis.

TIME.Cover.Apr27-May4Jennifer Moss is not your typical Reddit user. Every week, the 33-year-old utility company analyst from Marietta, Ga., reads posts on the social news site Reddit to see if she can help people who say they are in need.

On May 28, 2014, Kayla Davis of Columbia, S.C., posted a message on the site about her need for a kidney transplant. Five hours after the plea was posted, Moss posted a note of her own, saying she would call a living donor coordinator the next day and start the necessary tests to see if she was a match. They were. And Moss decided to donate her kidney.

They met for the first time in March before the transplant surgery at Georgia Regents Medical Center in Augusta.

Read: How a woman found her kidney donor on Reddit

Read: The outsourcing explosion

Fierce Health Finance: April 21, 2015

Hospitals turn to outside firms to provide more clinical services [Special Report]

Hospital imaging often renders a disquieting financial picture. The equipment costs millions of dollars to either purchase or lease, is often manpower intensive to operate and usually needs replacement or major upgrades every few years. That’s not to mention the constant pressure to optimize patient throughput in order to pay for the equipment in the first place.

The GRHealth-Philips health care delivery model includes everything from equipment purchasing and maintenance to volume discounts and performance improvement initiatives.

Georgia Regents Health System, which operates Georgia Regents Medical Center, … decided to outsource responsibility for much of its imaging services. In 2013, it entered into an agreement with Philips Healthcare to not only provide new imaging equipment, but manage radiology and cardiology services, clinical monitoring of patients, and the relevant education and training for GRHealth staff.

Read the full article: The outsourcing explosion