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Northside Hospital Expands Sports Medicine Network, Announces Concussions Program

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

Northside Hospital’s newly launched Sports Medicine Network is already growing with the addition of two experts, a new location in Midtown Atlanta and the launch of a new, comprehensive program specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of concussions.

Dr. Mark Sakr

Dr. Mark Sakr

Dr. Mark Sakr has been named director of non-operative sports medicine for the newly formed Sports Medicine Network. Dr. Sakr is board certified in family medicine and sports medicine and provides diagnosis and care for sports-related injuries including fractures sprains, tendon injuries, concussions and other medical conditions in athletes.

“Not all sports injuries require surgery,” said Dr. Sakr. “I focus on finding conservative treatments to some of the most common injuries faced by athletes and non-athletes alike.”

Dr. Sakr has extensive experience treating athletes of all ages and skill levels including pediatric, high school, college, professional and Olympic athletes. He currently serves as a team physician for USA Men’s Rugby 15s National Team and Olympic Rugby 7s Men’s and Women’s Teams, as well as numerous high schools in the Greater Atlanta area.

Dr. Daniel Charek, another new provider at the Northside Hospital Sports Medicine Network, is a fellowship-trained, licensed neuropsychologist, who specializes in the assessment and management of concussions in athletes and non-athletes. Dr. Charek sees both adult and pediatric patients, having worked with recreational, high school, college and professional athletes.

Dr. Daniel Charek

Dr. Daniel Charek

Dr. Charek performs comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations, including the assessment of cognitive skills such as memory, attention, reasoning and reaction time, in order to establish baselines for each individual, and in the case of a head injury, diagnose the extent of the injury and track treatment progress. He uses the most up-to-date tools and assessments to identify specific areas of deficit secondary to concussion and customize management plans based on the unique needs of each patient.

Dr. Charek trained with the industry leaders in concussion care, and brings his expertise to Atlanta to increase awareness and quality of care for concussions in the area.

“I feel a strong responsibility to educate the community on how to identify concussions and the importance of getting the proper medical help,” said Dr. Charek. “Dr. Sakr and I work alongside non-operative sports medicine physicians, rehabilitation specialists, vestibular physical therapists and athletic trainers to provide a team-based, multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to concussion treatment.”

From injury prevention, athletic training, physical therapy and sports performance services, to orthopedic surgery, orthobiologic treatments and diagnostic imaging, the Northside Hospital Sports Medicine Network offers circumferential care and personalized services based entirely around the needs of athletes and active people of all ages and skill levels, from little league to weekend warriors to professional athletes.

Both Dr. Sakr and Dr. Charek see patients at multiple Northside Hospital Sports Medicine Network locations including the new Midtown Atlanta office.


Dr. Stanley Fineman of Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Co-Authors Peanut Allergy Study

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

The final research results for a new treatment for protection against accidental exposure to peanut were presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting.

Dr. Stanley Fineman of Atlanta Allergy & Asthma was a co-author on the study and the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Research Department participated in the breakthrough research that will help protect patients with peanut allergy.

“We were fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in this research study,” Dr. Fineman says. “Data shows very impressive results with AR101 (standardized peanut protein) with more than 60 percent of children able to eat 600 milligrams.”

The results show it is possible for some people with peanut allergy to protect themselves from accidental ingestion by building up their tolerance to peanuts over time, and will now go to the United States Food and Drug Administration for review.

“We’re excited about the potential to help children and adolescents with peanut allergy protect themselves against accidentally eating a food with peanut in it,” says allergist Stephen Tilles, MD, ACAAI past president, study co-author, and consulting advisor for Aimmune Therapeutics. “Our hope when we started the study was that by treating patients with the equivalent of one peanut per day, many would tolerate as much as two peanuts. We were pleased to find that two thirds of the people in the study were able to tolerate the equivalent of two peanuts per day after nine to 12 months of treatment, and half the patients tolerated the equivalent of four peanuts.”

Study participants ranged in age from 4 to 55 years, most were 4 to 17, and all had peanut allergy. One third of the participants were given a placebo, while the remaining two-thirds were given peanut protein powder in increasing amounts until reaching the “maintenance dose” – the dose they stayed on for the remainder of the study. The maintenance dose was the equivalent of one peanut daily.

“This is not a quick fix, and it doesn’t mean people with peanut allergy will be able to eat peanuts whenever they want,” says allergist Jay Lieberman, MD, vice chair of the ACAAI Food Allergy Committee and study co-author. “But it is definitely a breakthrough. The hope would be to have a treatment available in the second half of 2019. If that happens, people who receive and are able to tolerate this treatment should be protected from accidental exposures.”

All those in the study received peanut protein as part of an oral food challenge (OFC). A person in an OFC is given a very small dose of the food by mouth under the supervision of a board-certified allergist to test for a severe reaction. OFCs are considered the gold standard for testing food allergy.

“Reactions from the oral challenges at the end of the study were much milder than prior to treatment,” says Dr. Tilles. “On average, the participants were able to tolerate a 100-fold higher dose of peanut at the end of the study than they did at the beginning. In addition, the symptoms caused by the 100-fold higher dose at the end of study were milder than the symptoms on the lower dose at the beginning of the study.”

Facts about this pivotal study:
• More participants and more detailed data than all prior oral immunotherapy studies combined
• Fewer severe allergic reactions requiring epinephrine during oral food challenges
• Fewer side effects than anticipated – e.g. only six percent dropped out of the study due to gastrointestinal side effects; Also, one-third of patients completed the study with no more than mild side effects along the way.
• 80 percent of participants successfully reached daily maintenance dose of the equivalent of one peanut.

There are currently no approved treatment options for peanut allergy. If this treatment is approved by the FDA, it will be available by prescription, and people with peanut allergy will need to remain on it to stay protected against accidental consumption. Once someone stops the treatment, there is no longer a protective effect.

Abstract Title: Age-Related Findings from the Peanut Allergy Oral Immunotherapy Study of AR101 for Desensitization (PALISADE) Study.

Author: Stephen A. Tilles, MD, ACAAI past president, Jay Lieberman, MD, vice chair, ACAAI Food Allergy Committee

New England Journal of Medicine Article Title: AR101 Oral Immunotherapy for Peanut Allergy


Piedmont Clinic Recognizes Physicians for Excellence

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

The Piedmont Clinic annually recognizes physicians who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence with the Chairman’s Service Award. Winners of awards this year include Andrew Page, M.D., Jonathan Hsu, M.D., Clarisa Haugabrook, M.D., Howard “Nick” Chandler, M.D., and Erin Dunbar, M.D.

The Piedmont Clinic physician network is the largest clinically integrated network in the state of Georgia, with more than 2,000 physicians in 555 physician practice locations. Piedmont Clinic physicians work together to provide coordinated care that delivers on the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim:
• Improving the patient experience
• Improving the health of populations
• Reducing the per capita cost of healthcare

By fostering a culture of clinical excellence, Piedmont Clinic is committed to improving the quality of care in the communities it serves.

Dr. Page, a transplant surgeon and general surgeon, was recognized for Reliable Safety. As the head of the Piedmont Atlanta Hospital Quality and Safety Subcommittee of the Perioperative Services Governance Council, Dr. Page has been instrumental in improving the outcomes of surgeries at Piedmont Atlanta. Piedmont Atlanta earned an A in The Leapfrog Group’s semi-annual hospital ratings for the first time in April, due in part to physicians such as Dr. Page who speak up for safety and lead by example.

Dr. Hsu, a hospitalist specializing in palliative care at Piedmont Athens Regional, was recognized for cost effectiveness. Palliative care is meant to provide specialized care for a patient dealing with a serious illness. Not only has Dr. Hsu performed this highly individualized care for his patients and the community on a high level, but his advances in practicing palliative care led to a significant reduction in hospital readmissions and more than $12 million in cost savings since joining Piedmont in fiscal year 2017.

Dr. Haugabrook, an independent obstetrician/gynecologist, was recognized for superior service to the community. She is the founder of LaunchPad Foundation, which purchases, renovates and furnishes townhomes with the goal of moving homeless families out of shelters. The families receive counseling in health and wellness, money management and job seeking in exchange for community service. There are currently five graduates of the program, gainfully employed and supporting their families.

Dr. Chandler and Dr. Dunbar received an award for Clinical Excellence and Innovation for their work building and growing the Piedmont Brain Tumor Center. The center has a sterling reputation with cancer centers across the country and has referrals from all over the world. Under Dr. Chandler and Dr. Dunbar’s leadership, many innovations not previously available in the service area have been instituted, including Functional MRI and metabolic MRI program, and a robust clinical trial program for primary and metastatic brain tumors.


Northside Opens New Medical Office Building & Cancer Institute in Midtown

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

Northside Hospital is expanding its network of state-of-the-art facilities with the opening of a new radiation oncology center and Medical Office Building in Midtown Atlanta.

The center began seeing patients Nov. 5 and the office opened Nov. 14. They’re located on West Peachtree Street.

The new Northside Hospital Cancer Institute Radiation Oncology at Midtown offers advanced cancer treatment technology including external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), intracavitary and interstitial radiation therapy, and treatment planning.

A wide range of cancers can be treated with radiation therapy including breast, colorectal, gynecologic, head and neck, melanoma, brain, prostate and sarcoma. Newly designed linear accelerators with stereotactic ability allow physicians to treat small tumors with unprecedented precision, whether they are in the body or the brain.

With the opening of the new Midtown location, Northside Hospital Cancer Institute offers radiation oncology at seven locations across Georgia, in Alpharetta, Atlanta, Canton, Cumming, Macon and Sandy Springs. An expanding network of cancer centers provides a new level of convenience for patients and allows them to receive the most advanced treatments close to home.

The new office building is nearly 169,00 square foot 12-story, facility and houses the oncology center, along with services for radiology, the spine center, sleep disorders, diabetes and nutrition, maternity, sports medicine and urgent and primary care. The building is home to over 20 Northside Hospital and Northside Hospital -affiliated tenants.

Kevin Green, President & CEO of Midtown Alliance, called the 12th floor space “a surgical suite with a view,” stressing the importance of adding quality health care access to the heart of an already diverse area and becoming “fully integrated into [Midtown’s] mixed-use community.”

Northside Hospital partnered with Physicians Reality Trust to secure the property and Realty Trust Group for building management.


Children’s Pediatrician-in-Chief Receives Distinguished Career Award

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

Dr. James Fortenberry

James Fortenberry, MD, MCCM, FAAP, Pediatrician-in-Chief at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, has received the 2018 Distinguished Career Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Section on Critical Care.

Children’s critical care physician Jana Stockwell, MD, presented the award to Dr. Fortenberry Nov. 5, at the AAP 2018 National Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Fla. A group of Dr. Fortenberry’s colleagues was on hand to help celebrate his notable recognition.

“Dr. Fortenberry’s career exemplifies his deep devotion to service and his commitment to improving care not only for critically ill and injured children but for all children,” said Dr. Stockwell. “As an internationally respected clinician, teacher, researcher and advocate for children’s health, this recognition comes as no surprise to his team.”

Dr. Fortenberry first joined Children’s as an attending physician in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children’s at Egleston in 1992. He was named Pediatrician-in-Chief in 2009, having previously served as Chief of Egleston’s Division of Critical Care Medicine from 2003-2009, Chief, Medicine Service Line from 2009-2018 and Medical Director of Pediatric Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), a service that provides support with a heart-lung bypass machine for gravely ill children with lung or heart failure.

Throughout his career, Dr. Fortenberry has been involved in a variety of medical staff administrative and quality improvement initiatives. He has served in many capacities with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society of Critical Care Medicine, the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization, for which he is the Past-President, and the American Board of Pediatrics, where he served as the Chair of the Critical Care Sub-Board. He is an internationally sought-after lecturer on sepsis and novel therapeutic modalities.

A native of Atlanta, Dr. Fortenberry attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received his medical degree at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta. Dr. Fortenberry completed a pediatric residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., followed by a fellowship in pediatric critical care at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas.


Amatus Health Opens Atlanta Detox Center

Monday, October 29th, 2018

The Atlanta Detox Center, opened earlier this month, is poised to offer high quality inpatient care for substance abuse and mental health, and help people change their lives.

The facility is owned and operated by Amatus Health, a national behavioral health organization spreading its community-focused approach to addiction and mental health treatment.

The facility offers inpatient care for individuals dealing with depression anxiety, bipolar or other personality disorders or other mental health diagnoses, as well as medical detoxification and inpatient care for individuals dealing with substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders.

Amatus Health operates facilities in Maryland, Ohio, Georgia and New Hampshire. The Atlanta Detox Center is the second facility in Georgia, joining the East Point Recovery Center in nearby East Point, Georgia.

Executive Director Jason Flaig will oversee operations of the site, and Clinical Director Dr. Hetal Patel, Ph.D., LPC, will oversee the on-site team of therapists, counselors, nurses and nurse practitioners.


Rutledge Forney, M.D., Sworn in as MAG President

Thursday, October 25th, 2018
Rutledge Forney

Rutledge Forney, M.D.

Rutledge Forney, M.D., was sworn into office as the president of the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) during a ceremony that took place during the organization’s 164th House of Delegates meeting on Jekyll Island on October 20.

“I am humbled, honored and excited to serve my patients and my fellow physicians in this role,” says Dr. Forney, a board-certified dermatologist who founded Dermatology Affiliates, which has four practice locations in the Atlanta area.

During her one-year term as MAG’s president, Dr. Forney will focus on “addressing a profit-driven health insurance system that feeds on patients and physicians, expanding the accessibility of care in rural areas, enhancing patient safety – including cancer screening, treatment for substance abuse, and scope of practice – and exploring a waiver option to secure additional federal funds to expand the state’s Medicaid program.”

Dr. Forney believes that today’s physicians are the victims of “institutional abuse.”

She explains that, “We are worn out with the government and insurance companies and others telling us what to do, how to care for our patients, and how to maintain our skill set. We are also tired of being accused of being moneygrubbers when the reality is that the physicians I know are focused on providing the best and most affordable patient care.”

Dr. Forney concludes that, “I do not believe that health care is a right, but I do believe it is right to make sure that every Georgian has access to health care.”

Dr. Forney has served as the chair and vice chair of MAG’s Board of Directors, the president of the Atlanta Dermatological Association and the Medical Association of Atlanta, and as a member of the Medical Association of Atlanta’s Board of Directors. She is certified by the American Board of Dermatology, she is a fellow of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery, and she is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, and the Georgia Society of Dermatologists.

Dr. Forney has degrees from Duke University and the Emory University School of Medicine.


Emory Nursing, Emory Healthcare launch InEmory ABSN program

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

Emory Healthcare and the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing are joining forces to launch an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program aimed to provide a seamless education to practice pathway for students wanting to transition from a nationally ranked nursing program into practice in a Magnet designated hospital in Atlanta.

Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and Emory Healthcare will now offer the 15-month InEmory ABSN program option for second-degree students beginning in January 2019. Students enrolled in this ABSN program will have the opportunity to learn from nationally-renowned nursing faculty at Emory University while being immersed in clinical rotations focused in the Emory Healthcare system. Students will receive up to $10,000 in scholarships and will be hired by Emory Healthcare to serve in critical shortage area of advanced medical surgical nursing in its hospital system following graduation and successful completion of licensure examinations.

“This new program will have a transformational impact on clinical learning for nursing students while also growing the nursing workforce at Emory Healthcare with the best and brightest nursing graduates,” said Sharon Pappas, chief nurse executive at Emory Healthcare. “We are committed to giving students an unparalleled clinical learning experience that combines hands-on patient care coupled with evidence-based practice and research in our Magnet-designated hospitals.”


Clinical Trial Testing Vitamin and Steroid Combination in Sepsis Patients Underway at Emory

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

A new clinical trial at Emory University and 45 other sites around the U.S. will test a combination of vitamins and steroids in patients diagnosed with sepsis. Sepsis is caused by the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death.

According to sepsis researchers, sepsis can account for 30 to 50 percent of all hospital deaths, making it the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Those numbers also make sepsis the most expensive reason for hospitalization, with annual expenditures exceeding $20 billion.

The VICTAS Study, which stands for VItamin C, Thiamine (also known as vitamin B1) And Steroids in Sepsis, is a multi-center, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. When a patient diagnosed with sepsis is hospitalized at one of the clinical trial sites, they will be assessed for the VICTAS trial and with their consent or consent from a family member, will be randomly selected to receive the vitamin/steroid cocktail or a placebo, in addition to clinical care provided by the treating team. The doctor, patient and family members will not know whether the patient received treatment or placebo until the end of the study. Study participants will be administered the combination therapy or a placebo for four days, or until discharged from the intensive care unit (ICU), whichever comes first.

“The primary goals of this phase III study are to demonstrate the efficacy of combination therapy 1) in reducing the duration of cardiovascular and respiratory organ dysfunction or failure and 2) in reducing 30-day mortality in critically ill patients with sepsis,” says Jon Sevransky, MD, MHS, FCCM, principal investigator of the multi-centered VICTAS Study and professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep, Emory University School of Medicine.

“There have been more than 100 phase III clinical trials of pharmacological agents with the potential to improve sepsis outcomes, but few have worked, with only timely antibiotics demonstrating benefits for patients,” says Sevransky. “We really want and need to find a better treatment for sepsis.”

In 2017, positive results were published from a small study at an academic medical center in Virginia comparing the same combination therapy as in the VICTAS trial to similar control patients who did not receive combination therapy, but further study in a rigorous, randomized control trial setting was recommended.

The ingredients in the clinical trial’s combination therapy include three inexpensive and readily available drugs found in hospital settings worldwide. Those factors help make this clinical trial appealing, according to researchers.

“We are familiar with the response of each of these drugs when treating patients diagnosed with sepsis,” says David Wright, MD, professor and interim chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Emory and VICTAS co-principal investigator. “Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant that reduces oxidative damage in the body. Patients with sepsis are known to have thiamine deficiency, so giving replacement thiamine can help strengthen the body. And we know corticosteroids play an important role in reducing inflammation in the body. Now, we will study how patients respond when using a combination of all three.”

Researchers say there are very few side effects related to the three medications, making the combination therapy safer and more convenient to test in a large population of people.

The two-year VICTAS Study will enroll up to 2,000 participants across the U.S. The study is being funded by The Marcus Foundation.

To find out more about the trial, visit the VICTAS clinical trial site on, identifying number NCT03509350.


Piedmont Transplant Institute Sets Record for Organs Transplanted in FY 2018

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

Piedmont Transplant Institute, Piedmont Healthcare’s service line that performs abdominal transplants (liver, kidney and pancreas), set an internal record for the private, non-for-profit organization by transplanting 325 organs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 – an increase of more than 17 percent over Piedmont’s previous high. In FY 2016, Piedmont transplanted 277 organs.

Piedmont Healthcare ranks in the top 15 percent in the country in organ transplant volumes and ranks among the nation’s busiest non-academic transplant hospitals. Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, where all of the transplant procedures took place, has the highest Case Mix Index (CMI) of any community hospital in the nation, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data released this year. This means Piedmont Atlanta takes care of the sickest patients of any non-academic medical center nationwide, ranking in the top 10 for all hospitals.

“The quantum leap that Piedmont Transplant Institute made in the number of organs that it transplanted in the last fiscal year is a testament to the quality of healthcare that Piedmont Healthcare delivers,” said Charles L. Brown III, M.D., CEO of Piedmont’s Healthcare’s Physician Enterprise. “We are thrilled that we were able to make such a positive difference in so many more lives than we had anticipated through our abdominal transplant program.”

Eric Gibney, M.D.

Eric Gibney, M.D., and Harrison Pollinger, D.O., serve as Co-Program Directors of Piedmont Transplant. They said the department had set a goal of transplanting 280 organs for FY 2018. Dr. Gibney and Dr. Pollinger attribute a variety of factors for the sizable increase, including community and physician outreach, rapid appointment times, clinical practices, and the talent of staff and personnel.

Dr. Gibney and Dr. Pollinger noted that Piedmont’s strategic growth, including mergers in recent years with Piedmont Athens Regional, Piedmont Columbus Midtown and Piedmont Columbus Northside, has given the organization greater visibility throughout the state, enabling it to serve larger populations. Piedmont Transplant Institute also has satellite clinics in Albany, Macon, Athens, Savannah and Dalton. Piedmont Healthcare served more than 2 million patients in Georgia in FY 2018.

Harrison Pollinger, D.O.

Several years ago, Piedmont Transplant responded to an increasing number of offers of organs occurring on the weekends by assigning more surgeons to be on-call at this critical time, which has helped lead to the increase in activity. Piedmont Transplant also has become more aggressive in organ acceptance, incorporating best practices from leading transplant centers and implementing steps from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network’s (OPTN) Collaborative Innovation and Improvement Network (COIIN).

Dr. Gibney and Dr. Pollinger cited new surgical and medical directors as providing key momentum, with the addition of Marwan Kazimi, M.D., Surgical Director of Liver Transplantation, Jonathan Hundley, M.D., Surgical Director of Kidney Transplantation, and Christina Klein M.D., Medical Director of Kidney Transplantation. In addition to their leadership, physicians and surgeons have strengthened Piedmont’s offerings in liver disease, pancreas transplantation, and clinical research, all of which contributed to the growth of the program. Dr. Kazimi performs living donor liver transplant procedures, which Piedmont sees as a vital offering in the Southeastern United States. Piedmont Transplant Institute’s management team, led by Executive Director Chris Fowler, and strong clinical and office support staff provide the strategic and operational excellence that makes the program possible.

Piedmont Transplant continues to maintain outstanding outcomes for liver disease survival, kidney and liver transplant outcomes, and maintains key expertise in living donation. More than 40 percent of kidneys transplanted at Piedmont come from living donors, a key factor for better long-term outcomes. Since 1986, Piedmont Transplant has been recognized as one of the nation’s most successful transplant programs, performing more than 4,400 transplant surgeries for kidney liver, pancreas and heart recipients.



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