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Archive for April, 2010

MAA Members Night at the Braves

Friday, April 30th, 2010

April 30, 2010 at the Atlanta Braves, Turner stadium.  Call the MAA to reserve tickets: 404-881-0120.


Regional Trauma Symposium

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

April 24, 2010 at the Westin Hotel Buckhead. Hosted by Atlanta Medical Center.  For more information, call 404-265-3800


Georgia Medical Group Management Association’s Annual Meeting

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

April 18-21, 2010 at the Marriott Evergreen Conference Resort, Stone Mountain, GA. For more information, visit the GMGMA’s web site.


Medical Volunteerism Conference

Friday, April 16th, 2010

April 16th-18th, 2010 at Emory University main campus.  To register for the free event, go to


Atlanta AMGMA Meeting

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

April 15, 2010 at The Retreat at Dunwoody.  For more information, visit AMGMA’s web site.


Saint Joseph’s and Piedmont Healthcare Announce Letter of Intent to Form Joint Operating Company

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Saint Joseph’s Health System and Piedmont Healthcare announced the signing of a letter agreement to enter exclusive negotiations to create a new partnership in the form of a Joint Operating Company.  The proposed partnership would enable the two healthcare systems to collaborate to better serve the people of North Georgia.

The proposed Joint Operating Company (JOC) would combine certain assets of both Piedmont Healthcare (PHC) and Saint Joseph’s Health System (SJHS), including Saint Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta, and the newly formed entity would operate pursuant to the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) of the Catholic Church. The ERDs would not apply to PHC entities outside of the JOC. The Letter of Intent provides for a period of time in which the two healthcare systems will conduct exclusive discussions to reach a final agreement on the terms of the joint operations.

“Saint Joseph’s believes that this is an opportunity to leverage our reputation as a leader in clinical excellence and will allow us to expand our mission as a faith-based health system,” said J. Stephen Eaton, Chairman, Saint Joseph’s Health System Board of Trustees.  “We highly regard the accomplishments and healthcare expertise of Piedmont Healthcare and believe a partnership with them will better serve our patients and expand access to quality healthcare services.”

“A joint operating company between Piedmont Healthcare and Saint Joseph’s would be a unique partnership between two of the most respected and longest-serving healthcare providers in Georgia,” said R. Timothy Stack, President and CEO of Piedmont Healthcare. “We have each served this community for more than 100 years by providing unparalleled patient care while achieving the highest possible clinical outcomes.”

Both system CEOs note the rapidly changing landscape of health care as an impetus for creating a more collaborative business model.

“In a constantly changing and complex healthcare environment, a joint operating company with Piedmont Healthcare is a smart, efficient and cost-effective way to provide the best quality of care possible for Georgians,” said Kirk G. Wilson, President and CEO, Saint Joseph’s Health System. “We look forward to finalizing the JOC structure with Piedmont Healthcare, who represents an exceptional potential partner.  The JOC is a wonderful opportunity to create one of the finest healthcare delivery systems in the country, and we are very excited with the prospect of partnering with Piedmont Healthcare in this effort.”

The JOC would be co-sponsored by Piedmont Healthcare and Saint Joseph’s Health System.  Under the leadership of a separate Board populated with trustees from both SJHS and Piedmont Healthcare, the JOC’s Board and management would lead all decision-making involving the JOC.

The due diligence period under the Letter of Intent is expected to take approximately 90 days.  Once a definitive agreement is reached, Saint Joseph’s and Piedmont Healthcare pursue final approval from their respective governing bodies, the Sisters of Mercy and Catholic Health East, the Archbishop of Atlanta, the Federal Trade Commission and the Georgia Attorney General.  The parties hope to have the proposed JOC in place by the end of the year.

“It is a challenging time in the healthcare industry, but one that we must approach with the belief that these challenges can also provide us opportunities to seek innovation and improve clinical care in a collaborative model,” said Stack.


NGHS’ CON for South Hall Hospital Reinstated

Friday, April 9th, 2010

The Georgia Court of Appeals reinstated Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s (NGMC) Certificate of Need (CON) for a hospital in South Hall County.  The Court’s decision reversed the Barrow County Superior Court’s ruling issued in December 2008.

“We are extremely pleased that the Georgia Court of Appeals has issued this decision,” said Jim Gardner, president and CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS).  “This appellate ruling further reinforces the original decision made by the Georgia Department of Community Health in May 2007 and the two subsequent rulings which upheld that decision.  We are committed to developing a high quality hospital consistent with the services already provided at Medical Plaza 1 at River Place, the cornerstone of the future Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton.”

NGMC plans to build a 100-bed hospital off of Thompson Mill Road near Highway 211, at River Place.  In September 2008, NGMC opened a medical office building on the corner of this site called Medical Plaza 1.  Medical Plaza 1 houses an urgent care center, an outpatient imaging center, outpatient lab and rehabilitation services and physician offices representing numerous specialties.


New Integrative Oncology Wellness Program Available

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Radiotherapy Centers of Georgia (RCOG), a division of RC Cancer Centers launched a new Integrative Oncology Wellness Program designed to improve the quality of life for cancer patients by strengthening the mind and body connection.

“Too many people treat the cancer and then send the patient on their way,” said Chad Levitt, M.D., medical director of Radiotherapy Centers of Georgia in Cumming.  “At RCOG, we know that if we treat the ‘whole body’ and provide patients with the tools they need to have a more positive outlook it will improve their quality of life and the treatment experience.”

The Integrative Oncology Wellness Program enables trained experts in the fields of massage therapy, mind-body (epigenetics), and nutrition to join with RCOG’s physicians, caregivers, nurses, therapists, physicists, and dosimetrists, along with a patient’s family and caregivers, to offer an integrative or holistic approach to cancer treatment.

The new massage therapy program features experts offering various types of massage, including: gentle stretch; lymphatic; neuromuscular; reflexology; Swedish; and therapeutic touch.

The mind-body (epigenetics) program helps patients learn how to bring forward the elements within their mind and body that can help them manage the stress levels they face while reducing the ill effects of this stress and reaping the positive benefits on the immune system.

The nutrition program provides access to counseling with a registered dietitian who helps patients develop a plan that can help them stay strong while undergoing treatment and lessen the side effects associated with treatment.

The education program helps patients learn about cancer prevention and detection; find out more about a cancer diagnosis; understand clinical research; address survivorship issues; and locate additional support resources.

The Integrative Oncology Wellness Program is now available at the Radiotherapy Centers of Georgia North Georgia office located at 1055 Haw Creek Parkway, Cumming, Georgia 30041. Phone:  678-947-0457. RCOG will expand the program to other locations during 2010 and services will vary by location. For more information call the Radiotherapy Centerss of Georgia – North Georgia office at 678-947-0457 or visit


Regional Trauma Symposium

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Atlanta Medical Center will host a Regional Trauma Symposium featuring nationally recognized pioneers in general and orthopedic trauma on Saturday, April 24, 2010 at the Westin Hotel Buckhead from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Atlanta Medical Center’s staff recognizes that this is an exciting time for trauma care and education in Georgia. The Regional Trauma Symposium, to which Atlanta Medical Center invites all of its referring hospitals in Georgia, will accentuate the importance of the regional referral center and its vital role in Trauma Network development. The symposium will highlight Atlanta Medical Center’s outstanding work and service provided to the trauma community.

Featured faculty for the symposium include Dr. L. D. Britt, Brickhouse, Professor and Chairman, Department of Surgery, Eastern Virginia Medical School, and Dr. Andrew Burgess, Academic Chairman, Director of Trauma, Orthopaedic Faculty Practice, Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Eight CME/CEU credits will be awarded with proper sign-in and course evaluation. Call 1-888-457-5204 to register by phone. Registration fees are between $50.00 and $100.00.

For more information about the Trauma Symposium, call 404-265-3800.


Imaging Fat Layer Around Heart Can Help Predict Disease

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Imaging epicardial adipose tissue, or the layer of fat around the heart, can provide extra information compared with standard diagnostic techniques such as coronary artery calcium scoring, according to research by cardiologists at Emory University School of Medicine. The size of the layer of fat around the heart can be measured by X-ray imaging techniques such as CT or MRI.

“This information may be used as a ‘gate keeper’, in that it could help a cardiologist decide whether a patient should go on to have a nuclear stress test,” says Paolo Raggi, MD, professor of medicine (cardiology) and radiology and director of Emory’s cardiac imaging center.

Results from two studies were presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting in Atlanta.

The first study, presented by cardiology fellow Nikolaos Alexopoulos, MD, now at the University of Athens, Greece, shows that patients with a larger volume of epicardial adipose tissue tend to have the types of atherosclerotic plaques cardiologists deem most dangerous: non-calcified plaques.

Calcium tends to build up in atherosclerotic plaques. Even though the heart’s overall coronary calcium burden is a good predictor of heart disease, calcium in an individual plaque doesn’t necessarily mean imminent trouble, Raggi says. Researchers have been learning that non-calcified plaques indicate active buildup in that coronary artery, and studies suggest that the fat around the heart secretes more inflammatory hormones, compared to the fat just under the skin.

“Release of inflammatory factors from epicardial adipose tissue may be promoting an active atherosclerotic process, and this is indicated by the presence of non-calcified plaques,” Raggi says.

Emory researchers examined 214 patients through cardiac CT, and performed coronary artery scoring as well as assessing the patients’ epicardial adipose tissue volume and the plaque in their coronary arteries. The epicardial adipose tissue volume was highest in the patients with non-calcified plaques (roughly 60 percent more than those with calcified plaques).

The second study, presented by Emory cardiology fellow Matthew Janik, MD, measured epicardial fat in patients receiving a nuclear stress test. The 382 patients had chest pain but did not have known cardiovascular disease. A nuclear stress test picks up signs of inducible ischemia: deficiencies in blood flow in the heart muscle.

Here, the researchers found that the presence of ischemia correlated more closely with epicardial adipose tissue volume than with the coronary calcium score.

N. Alexopoulos et al. Epicardial adipose tissue and coronary artery plaque characteristics. Atherosclerosis, in press (2009).
N. Alexopoulos and P. Raggi. Calcification in atherosclerosis. Nature Reviews Cardiology 6, 681-688 (Nov 2009).



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