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Archive for December, 2013

Educating Parents About Childhood Obesity is the Key to Healthier Families

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

The facts regarding childhood obesity are stunning. According to the CDC:

• Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

• The percentage of children aged 6-11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2010. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12-19 years who were obese increased from 5 percent to 18 percent over the same period.

• Overweight and obesity are the result of “caloric imbalance” – too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed – and are affected by various genetic, behavioral an environmental factors.

“Certainly childhood obesity has become a problem over the years. It can have long-term ramifications, including the early development of more ‘adult’ diseases,” says Jeff Hopkins, M.D., of Northside Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. “In our practice, we’re seeing more and more children with adult onset diabetes, elevated cholesterol levels, sleep apnea and joint issues such as arthritis.”

Overweight and obese children are often caught up in a vicious cycle of lack of exercise and unhealthy eating that Hopkins calls a “snowball effect.”

“These kids need to move around more, but because of their size, are having more difficulty moving around,” he explains. “In fact, families, in general, are more sedentary than ever before. They eat out more frequently than they should because fast food is relatively inexpensive. Healthy foods are more expensive – healthy meals require more money, more effort to prepare … more everything.”

However, there is some positive progress toward helping children and families affected by obesity. Hopkins says that more parents are becoming aware of the problem and are willing to make lifestyle changes for the sake of their children and the whole family.

Programs such as Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s “Strong 4 Life” teach physicians and other healthcare providers how to communicate with parents and educate them about how to adopt a healthy lifestyle, such as incorporating several servings of fresh fruit and vegetables into daily meals and snacks or limiting their children’s time in front of the television or playing video games.

“There is some good news, and we’re actually seeing some improvement on the childhood obesity front,” says Hopkins. “Parents are realizing that this is a real problem and the child it affects is theirs, not just some child down the street. They want to work with their pediatrician to come up with a healthy plan that helps the whole family succeed.”


Governor Deal Appoints Grady Trauma Chief to State Trauma Commission

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has appointed Jeffrey Nicholas, MD, MS, to the Georgia Trauma Commission. Nicholas serves as Chief of Trauma and Director of the Marcus Trauma Center at Grady Health System, where he oversees Grady’s entire trauma program, from pre-hospital care to rehabilitation.

Nicholas is an associate professor of Surgery at the Emory University School of Medicine and has been at Grady Memorial Hospital since 2000. He was appointed chief of Trauma at Grady Memorial Hospital and director of the Marcus Trauma Center in March 2012. He also serves as the deputy chief of Surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Nicholas earned his medical degree and a master’s degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.


BMT Program to Participate in Blood Cancer Research Partnership

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Northside Hospital’s Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Program is the only program in Georgia, and just one of 10 in the country, selected to participate in the prestigious and groundbreaking Blood Cancer Research Partnership (BCRP), established by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).  This BCRP is a network of sites for clinical trial testing of innovative blood cancer therapies in community oncology settings across the country.  The Partnership brings clinical trials closer to where patients live and helps address one of the primary bottlenecks in the development of new cancer therapies: the need for more patients to take part in trials.

The Northside Hospital BMT Program serves patients who require bone marrow or stem cell transplants and provides primary leukemia treatment. A group of nationally recognized physicians, along with a team of  trained professionals, spearhead the work that takes place at Northside.  In 2013, the National Marrow Donor Program reported the hospital as having among the best survival outcomes in the country for related and unrelated bone marrow transplants for the fourth consecutive year.

Involvement in clinical trials with local organizations, academic transplant programs and larger cooperative groups provides Northside with the latest tools and resources in treating leukemia, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Hodgkin’s Disease, Multiple Myeloma, Myelodyslastic Syndrome, Aplastic Anemia, breast and ovarian cancer and other blood and solid tumor disease.

Many patients diagnosed with cancer do not have access to ground-breaking trials due to lack of proximity to large medical centers.  The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute believes that the collaboration between community oncologists and Dana-Farber physicians will accelerate the advancement of and expansion of access to well-designed and original clinical trials for blood cancer patients being treated at community sites.  LLS has invested $1,050,000 in this three-year project.

“This novel partnership between Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and LLS supports the mission of both organizations – to bring cutting-edge clinical research to a wider spectrum of patients with blood cancers today in order to change the paradigms of clinical care for patients tomorrow,” said Blood Cancer Research Program Co-Director Robert Soiffer, M.D., who is the chief of the Division of Hematologic Malignancies at Dana-Farber.  “The BCRP consortium will provide the opportunity for the Division of Hematologic Malignancies to extend clinical research trials to patients who are outside our regional area and do not have the capacity to come to Dana-Farber.”

Asad Bashey, M.D., Ph.D., medical director, BMT research program at Northside Hospital added, “The number of hematopoietic cell transplants performed annually in the United States is growing each year and, as such, it is vital that transplant centers work together to develop and implement new and innovative therapies.”


National Report Ranks Georgia 43rd in Protecting Kids From Tobacco

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, Georgia ranks 43rd in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

Georgia currently spends $2.2 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 1.9 percent of the $116.5 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Georgia include:

• Georgia this year will collect $346.8 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 0.6 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Georgia is spending less than a penny of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.

• The tobacco companies spend $316.9 million a year to market their products in Georgia. This is 142 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

The annual report on states’ funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled “A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 15 Years Later,” was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

The report assesses whether the states have kept their promise to use a significant portion of their settlement funds – estimated to total $246 billion over the first 25 years — to fight tobacco use. The states also collect billions more each year from tobacco taxes.

In addition to its lack of funding for tobacco prevention programs, Georgia’s cigarette tax is only 37 cents per pack, which is 48th in the nation and well below the state average of $1.53 per pack.

“Georgia again is one of the most disappointing states when it comes to protecting kids from tobacco,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Georgia should raise its tobacco tax and increase funding for tobacco prevention programs that are proven to protect kids, save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs. States are being truly penny-wise and pound-foolish when they shortchange tobacco prevention programs.”

In Georgia, 17 percent of high school students smoke, and 7,200 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 10,500 lives and costs the state $2.25 billion in health care bills.

Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Key national findings of the report include:

• The states this year will collect $25 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.9 percent of it — $481.2 million — on tobacco prevention programs. This means the states are spending less than two cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.

• States are falling woefully short of the CDC’s recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs. Altogether, the states have budgeted just 13 percent of the $3.7 billion the CDC recommends.

• Only two states — Alaska and North Dakota — currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.

There is more evidence than ever before that tobacco prevention and cessation programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money. Florida, which has a well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention program, reduced its high school smoking rate to just 8.6 percent in 2013, far below the national rate. One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, Washington state saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year. Nationally, about 18 percent of adults and 18.1 percent of high school students smoke.

More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at


Six Residency Programs to Be Offered at WellStar Kennestone

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

WellStar Kennestone Hospital has begun the process of becoming an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited residency training site.

A growing need for more physicians, particularly primary care physicians, is evident when looking at the aging population and the anticipated demand for wellness and prevention services found in the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, the need for residency training positions has dramatically increased as medical schools across the country have increased their class size and new medical schools have opened.

Georgia is a net exporter of medical school graduates, most of whom will practice close to where they do their residency training outside of Georgia. Georgia’s medical schools have increased their enrollments over the past five years, yet the number of residency training positions has not kept pace with the increased class size.

After a site visit to Kennestone, the ACGME New Program Committee approved the hospital’s application for Institutional Accreditation in October.  This approval sets the stage for the development of each of the six planned programs.  Programs are currently being planned in family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology and the transitional year.

The transitional year is a one-year general program that prepares physicians for specialty training in areas such as Radiology. If all deadlines are met and programs approved, Kennestone will see its first residents in July 2016. When all programs are completely staffed in 2021, there will be 70-80 residents on site at Kennestone and in primary care offices connected to Kennestone’s family practice and internal medicine programs.

As part of the ramp-up to residency training WellStar’s Student Affiliations office will increase the number of medical students who do clinical rotations at WellStar hospitals and physician practices.


Fox to Serve 2014-15 Term as GHA Chair

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

John T. Fox, president and chief executive officer of Emory Healthcare, has been named chair-elect of the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA).

Since 1999, Fox has served as president and CEO of Emory Healthcare, comprised of six hospitals and physician groups, together with Emory University School of Medicine. In 2012, Emory Healthcare achieved its five-year goal of having its two large teaching hospitals rank in the top 10 nationally as measured under the University HealthSystem Consortium’s (UHC) Quality and Accountability Scorecard. In 2013, Emory Healthcare repeated this achievement with its two large teaching hospitals ranking #2 (Emory University Hospital, which includes Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital) and #3 (Emory University Hospital Midtown) in the UHC Quality Leadership Awards.

Prior to joining Emory Healthcare, Fox was executive vice president of Clarian Health (an academic medical center in Indianapolis) and vice president at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Fox began his career as a CPA at Coopers and Lybrand, working extensively in health care consulting. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and history from Washington University (St. Louis) and has a master’s degree in business administration.

Fox’s professional memberships include the American Association of Health Plans, the American College of Healthcare Executives, the Council of Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems Administrative Board, the Health Care Systems Governing Council of the American Hospital Association, the Healthcare Institute and the Atlanta Committee for Progress, among others.


NMMMA 2nd Annual Roundtable Discussion

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

December 10, 2013, Pinetree Country Club, Kennesaw, Ga. For more information, visit North Metro Medical Managers Association


Georgia Neurological Society Annual Meeting

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

December 7-8, 2013, Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Plantation, Lake Oconee, Ga. For more information, visit Georgia Neurological Society


Georgia Society of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery Fall Meeting

Friday, December 6th, 2013

December 6-8, 2013, Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Plantation, Lake Oconee, Ga. For more information, visit Georgia Society of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery


Georgia OB-GYN Winter CPT Coding Seminar

Friday, December 6th, 2013

December 6, 2013, Atlanta. For more information, visit Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society



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