Category Archives: Honors

Medical Center earns second Energy Star designation

Georgia Regents Medical Center has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s prestigious Energy Star designation for a second time. Georgia Regents Medical Center is the only hospital in Georgia that holds this designation for 2015 and one of only four medical centers in the country with the certification.

To qualify, the Medical Center met strict energy performance standards set by EPA and earned a score of 75 or higher, indicating it performs better than at least 75 percent of similar buildings nationwide. Energy Star certified buildings save energy, save money and help protect the environment by generating fewer greenhouse gas emissions than typical buildings, according to the EPA.

Facilities included in the Energy Star designation are the adult hospital, the Critical Care Center, Children’s Hospital of Georgia and the Medical Office Building.

GRMC first received Energy Star certification in 2012.

“We applaud the significant effort of Chris Miller and our Facilities Division for ensuring that our clinical facilities are good stewards of energy use and of our planet. This absolutely is in keeping with our continuous efforts to be efficient by every definition and to improve wellbeing,” said Dr. Peter F. Buckley, Dean of the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

Most recently, in 2013, GRMC partnered with Johnson Controls on an Energy Performance Contract. The scope of the contract was to implement energy-saving projects. A few of the key project components were:

• Chilled water optimization using specific technology and software which allows GRMC to save energy when it provides air conditioning to the hospital.
• LED lighting retrofit for the Medical Office Building parking deck. The use of LED lights not only cut GRMC’s energy use in half, the lighting itself provides a seven-year increased service life, therefore saving money on replacement lighting.
• Water conservation with low flow flush valves and shower heads. GRMC decreased its overall water consumption by 10.93 percent in 2014.

The next major energy reducing project for GRMC will be retrofitting the remaining three parking decks with LED lighting.

GRU Public Safety receives certification

Georgia Regents University Department of Public Safety has received another state certification, which is good until 2017.

Only 15 percent of state law enforcement organizations have attained such certification.

“I am very proud of the folks in GRU Police for achieving this honor,” said Chief of Police Bill McBride. “It’s a lot of work and a team effort to achieve and hang on to this certification.”

The certification, which is the same certification earned by police and sheriff’s departments throughout the state, shows that the agency has codified its procedures and is following them.

“We’re putting our guidelines down in writing and we’re following them,” McBride said. “It’s 129 professional standards, but with sub standards it ends up being 400 separate things.”

GRU has 45 sworn officers.

GRU Equality Clinic wins national award

The founders of Georgia Regents University’s student-run Equality Clinic have been named the 2015 recipients of the American Medical Student Association/Gay and Lesbian Medical Association’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Achievement Award.

The award, which provides national recognition to medical students who make significant and innovative contributions to the advancement of LGBT health, will be presented at the AMSA National Convention today through March 1 in Washington, D.C.

The Equality Clinic, which is operated by students and supervised by faculty, became the first clinic in the Augusta area to target lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients when it opened in fall 2014. The free, twice-monthly clinic offers primary care services in a culturally competent environment that without judgment or discrimination. While the clinic primarily focuses on LGBT populations, it is open to anyone whose income falls below the 200 percent poverty level and who is uninsured or underinsured.

Recent studies have shown that more than half of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender patients have been refused care, blamed for their health status, physically or verbally abused by a provider, or refused to be touched by medical staff. The Equality Clinic opened to help address and eradicate those barriers.

Student founders include second-year Medical College of Georgia students Lauren Titus, Kyle Friez, Michelle Cohen, Kevin Robertson, Charlotte Ball, and Caleb King; fourth-year medical student, Justin Neisler; and Nicole Mayberry, a first-year physician assistant student in the GRU College of Allied Health Sciences.

Other MCG faculty and staff who have been instrumental in the clinic’s opening and operation, also will be recognized, including Dr. David Kriegel, Associate Professor of Family Medicine who serves as the clinic’s Medical Director; Dr. Bruce LeClair, Associate Professor of Family Medicine; Dr. Lara Stepleman, Professor of Psychiatry and Health Behavior, who is in charge of the mental health services provided in the clinic; and Alexis L. Rossi, Director of Diversity, Training, and Evaluation, who serves as the clinic’s adviser.

The Equality Clinic serves an average of nearly 30 patients each month, some of them from as far away as Charleston, S.C. For more information on the Equality Clinic, please visit:

Ed Commons earns major rebate for energy efficiency

Not only is the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons earning high praise from the students and faculty who use it, but it’s actually earning the university a good chunk of change, too.

In addition to the ongoing energy savings racked up by using more efficient equipment, the decision to install that equipment has resulted in a Georgia Power rebate of $18,734.85.

“That was just for building it the way we built it,” said Facilities Engineering Manager Mark Williams. “That’s what they’re looking at – less electricity used. Because the less we use, the more they can provide to somebody else.”

The three-story, 175,000-square-foot building opened in October of last year and was designed to be as energy efficient as possible, given the construction parameters.

“The more efficient the concepts or components are, usually the more expensive they are,” Williams said. “So you’re limited by the building’s budget.”

In other words, there’s a balance between energy savings over time versus up-front cost. While more efficient LED lights were used in certain areas of the Ed Commons building, for example, they were considered too expensive to be used throughout.

The decision to go with proximity sensors in most of the rooms, hallways, common areas, and offices may have given the building a “Star Trek” feeling, but it also contributed to the rebate while also allowing students more flexibility when using the building, since the sensors use a variety of methods to power each room separately.

“If there’s motion or sound or heat, they’ll stay on,” Williams said. “But as the building goes down, if there’s no motion or sound or heat, they’ll shut off.”

This is in contrast to the College of Dental Medicine, which uses a lighting control system to schedule power usage. Williams said such systems are expensive to install – a computer system must communicate with every light, which means that every light has to have its own IP address – and difficult to maintain. They also don’t easily allow for irregular or unplanned use, which means the lights often remain on.

“The idea in concept was great, but the upkeep and cost of maintenance was not looked at fully; so when we built the Ed Commons, we screamed, ‘Don’t go to this type, because it limits people,’” Williams said.

The proximity sensors are also tied into the HVAC system, which has seven different air handlers. The lecture rooms also have CO monitors, so each room is automatically cooled to match its needs. A full lecture room will obviously need more air conditioning than a mostly empty one, and the sensors ensure that the empty one doesn’t get more than it needs.

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.

Dip Metress Reaches 250 Wins With Victory Over Patriots

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The GRU Augusta men’s basketball team broke the century mark to defeat Peach Belt Conference foe Francis Marion 101-75 and recorded their ninth straight win Wednesday evening in Christenberry Fieldhouse.

The triumph also gave head coach Dip Metress 250 career wins with the Jaguars.

During the contest, GRU (21-5, 13-4 PBC) had its strongest offensive showcase of the season by scoring the most points in a game on 61.4 percent field goal shooting.

In the opening minutes, GRU scored the first four points, but FMU (13-13, 5-12 PBC) scored six straight points to take a 10-7 lead. Then McCarthy knocked down two free throws to tie it, and freshman forward Kelvin Howard canned a trey bomb for an 18-15 advantage.

At the 5:49 mark, sophomore guard Keith Crump found senior guard Devonte Thomas in the left corner for a three pointer, and on the ensuing possession sophomore guard Keshun Sherrill took a steal in for a layup to create a 32-24 affair in favor of the Jaguars.

The Patriots cut the deficit with a 6-0 run, but the Jags responded with six unanswered points for a 47-39 halftime lead. By the end of the first half, GRU had two players in double figures. Thomas had 11 behind three downtown shots and Sherrill scored 10 in the first 20 minutes.

GRU freshman forward Vlad Cobzaru knocked down a two-pointer 30 seconds into the second half for the first double digit lead of the game, 49-39.

At the 14:31 mark, Cobzaru sunk a layup as well to bring the score to 63-45. From that point forward, the Jags remained in full control to secure to victory. In the final seconds, Michael Graham brought down the two-handed jam to put the Jags over 100 points, and send the crowd into a frenzy.

Thomas paced the team with 21 points, which was followed closely behind Sherrill’s 19. Wright-Nelson also notched 14 points, and Cobzaru registered a season-high 13.

The Jaguars host Lander this Saturday, Feb. 21 for a 12:00 p.m. start in Christenberry Fieldhouse. The game will be nationally televised by CBS Sports Network in 100 million homes and will also be Military Appreciation Day, where 1,000 Fort Gordon soldiers will be in attendance. Doors open at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning and a ‘Ring of Honor’ presentation for the soldiers will take place at 11:25 a.m. around the upstairs Chrstenberry Fieldhouse track, where fans will line the edges and recognize the military for their service.



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.

Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home ranks in top 15 percent nationally for customer satisfaction

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home has been ranked in the nation’s top 15 percent among senior health care providers for patient satisfaction, earning the 2015 Customer Experience Award™ from Pinnacle Quality Insight, a nationally recognized customer satisfaction firm.gwvnh

Pinnacle conducts more than 100,000 surveys each year while working with more than 1,500 clients in 47 states to determine how their patients and families evaluate them. Customers gave Georgia War praise in nearly a dozen distinct categories, including cleanliness, safety and security, nursing care, food quality, individual needs, admission process, and overall satisfaction.

“We believe the men and women who have served our country deserve the best care we can provide them, and this award demonstrates our dedication to excellence in patient care. It is truly an honor to be recognized,” said Charles Esposito, Executive Director of Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home.

Throughout its 45-year history of serving the veteran community, Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home has placed a strong emphasis on ensuring that the individual needs of every veteran patient are met. By partnering with Pinnacle to conduct monthly surveys and interviews with patients and families, the organization has been able to measure how effectively it carries out this mission.

“This ongoing feedback helps us gain a better understanding of our patients’ needs and make improvements when necessary,” said Esposito. “We are committed to continuing these efforts for the benefit of our patients and families.”

About Pinnacle Quality Insight
Pinnacle Quality Insight is a satisfaction measurement firm in Salt Lake City, Utah, with more than 18 years of experience in long-term healthcare. Pinnacle, an approved vendor for HH-CAHPS® and Hospice CAHPS®, specializes in phone surveys for the hospice and senior health care industry. For more information, visit

About Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home
Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home is a skilled nursing care facility owned by the Georgia Department of Veterans Service and operated by Georgia Regents University.

Safe Kids records big numbers in 2014

Safe Kids Greater Augusta, led by Children’s Hospital of Georgia, logged nearly 2,000 hours of service in 2014 among its members, according to Coalition Coordinator Rene Hopkins. As a result, more than 6,000 adults and children combined were provided valuable  safety tips and educational tools to help prevent childhood injuries, the leading killer of children ages 1 to 14.

Hopkins shared the numbers at the annual Safe Kids Awards Luncheon on Jan. 30. Here are other 2014 achievements she highlighted:

  • 1,600 pedestrian reflectors were greater augusta trnsprntdistributed
  • 170 car seats were distributed, which included education on appropriate installation and usage
  • 93 infant sleep safety kits were given through Cribs for Kids classes
  • 84 bike helmets were distributed
  • 49 Safe Sitters were trained

These numbers are quite impressive, considering Hopkins is the sole staff member of CHOG’s Safe Kids coalition. “I couldn’t have had such a good year of prevention efforts without all of the instructors, volunteers, and members who help me put on these classes and events,” Hopkins said.

In addition, Angie Gifford was named the Safe Kids Greater Augusta Member of the Year for 2014.  Gifford, a full-time nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at CHOG, has been a member of Safe Kids for many years and is a certified Child Passenger Safety technician and Cribs for Kids instructor.

“When we launched our Car Seat Class, Angie was one of the first to sign on as an instructor,” said Hopkins. “Then when we launched our sleep safety class, she was among the first to sign on to teach that class as well. Over the years she has helped to develop training programs and hospital policies for angle tolerance testing of low birth weight and premature infants to assure their safety in the car.  Hopkins said that Gifford even comes in on her days off to be sure that a premature child is properly fitted in a car seat before the parents take the baby home. “That’s how much she cares.”

Safe Kids needs more instructors and donations to provide training in the community. To find out more about Safe Kids, contact Hopkins at 706-721-7606 or, or visit



2014 PHA Quality and Patient Safety Award

The Georgia Hospital Association recognizes excellence in improving quality and patient safety through their annual PHA Quality and Patient Safety Award program. Georgia hospitals are recognized at their annual Patient Safety Summit for their achievements in implementing evidence-based processes and best practices that reduce the risk of adverse outcomes and improving patient safety and quality. The GHA Patient Safety Summit was held January 7-8, 2015. Georgia Regents Medical Center was recognized for the 3rd year in a row for the work a multidisciplinary team has accomplished related to managing serum blood glucose in the cardiac surgery patient population.

The Cardiothoracic serum blood glucose (CT SGB) team was developed in response to the Institutes of Healthcare Improvement evidence-based recommendations regarding the management of serum blood glucose to 180 or less in critically ill patients, such as the cardiac surgery patient. In 2013, the quality performance data indicated our results for managing the serum blood glucose in cardiac surgery patients was declining in the Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP) core measure. At that time, there was not a standardized approach for managing the serum blood glucose in the cardiac surgery patient population.

The CT SBG team, made up of CT Surgeons, Anesthesiologists, Endocrinologists, Intensive Care Physicians, Pharmacists, ICU/CCU Nurses, Nursing Leadership, Clinical Educators, Quality Management, and Outcomes Management, was created. The team specified the type of data that would be meaningful to collect and the QM Coordinator started tracking this additional information during the daily concurrent reviews that were occurring for all cardiac surgery patients.

To improve the management of hyperglycemia in the cardiac surgery patients, a protocol was developed and implemented in October 2013 to provide a more standardized approach to managing the serum blood glucose control in these critically ill patients in an effort to prevent complications and improve patient outcomes.

This new protocol incorporated the OR to ICU handoff communication to include the diabetes history and intraoperative glucose management information, more frequent SGB monitoring, implementation of an insulin infusion protocol, providing on-going education for physicians and nursing staff, and performing concurrent reviews to identify opportunities for improvement.

The concurrent quality data for all cardiac surgery patients and the SCIP Inf-4 core measure data that were selected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) indicated that the intraoperative and postoperative management of the serum blood glucose in the cardiac surgery patients was progressively improving with this new hyperglycemia management protocol. We have consistently met the goal for maintaining serum blood glucose levels for the past seven months.

Nancy Kotti and Rosemary Pilcher attended the GHA Patient Safety Summit, along with Dr. Kevin Dellsperger and Laura Brower to accept the award on behalf of the organization this week.