Atlanta Magazine recently announced its 2021 Top Doctors list, which includes many physicians who are part of Northeast Georgia Health System. The list, created in partnership with Castle Connolly Top Doctors, is determined after a rigorous screening process of online nominations from licensed physicians across the United States.

Click here to see a complete list of Atlanta Magazine’s 2021 Top Doctors.

For more information about physicians at Northeast Georgia Health System, or to schedule an appointment, visit


August Covid-19 Vaccine Offered at Wayne Memorial Hospital, Friday, August 6, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. 12:53 pm

Wayne Memorial Hospital is offering the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to those 18 and older on Friday, August 6 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in its main conference room. The public may enter through the front doors of the hospital or the side entry at the cafeteria patio. There is no charge and no need for an appointment. Masks should be worn.  The Moderna vaccine is a two-dose process, with the second dose several weeks later. The hospital is located at 865 South First Street in Jesup, Georgia.




The Delta variant has already caused COVID-19 surges in other states, and it’s here in Georgia now. Thankfully, the difference between these surges and what we saw last year is the fact that we have access to a better weapon in the fight: the COVID-19 vaccine.

Next week, Northeast Georgia Physicians Group (NGPG) is hosting an event to distribute the vaccine to those 12 years of age and older who still need the shot, and NGPG is encouraging you to sign up now.

COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Event

Wednesday, July 28

8 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Corporate Plaza

3137 Frontage Road

Gainesville, GA 30504

Schedule an Appointment


The rate of positive COVID-19 test results is on the rise, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health – just as it was before each of our three previous surges. If you’ve been waiting to make sure the vaccine is safe before you get the shot, rest assured that more than 4.6 million have gotten the vaccine in Georgia alone.

Unfortunately, more than half of our state still isn’t vaccinated, and that leaves us all vulnerable to another crippling spike. The vaccine is the weapon we didn’t have in the fight before, and we need everyone who is eligible to protect themselves so our businesses can remain open, our children can return to school and our communities can continue to recover.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine and where you can receive your shot, visit


St. Mary’s, AU/UGA Medical Partnership welcome 12 new physician residents 6:49 pm

St. Mary’s Health Care System and the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership are welcoming 12 new physician residents to the Internal Medicine Residency Program (IMRP) this summer.


The new residents began practicing at St. Mary’s on July 1 under the supervision of advanced resident physicians and physician faculty from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University and area community-based teaching faculty.


Residents are medical school graduates who are working toward full licensure as independent physicians. Residency is a three-year program with increasing levels of independence. It’s the final stage in their internal medicine education. At the end of the three-year program, they will take their licensure exam (“Boards”) and then either go into practice or continue into training for a specialty.


The IMRP is accredited to host up to 37 residents. They provide supervised inpatient care at St. Mary’s Hospital on Baxter Street and outpatient care at Community Internal Medicine of Athens on Oglethorpe Avenue. In addition, third year residents spend two months in a rural healthcare setting, providing inpatient care at St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital in Greensboro.


“Our Internal Medicine Residency Program offers a wide range of experiences,” said Lela Ward, MD, Program Director. “From critical care and inpatient units to a rural outpatient clinic, our residents have a diverse range of practice opportunities that will prepare them well as they further their careers.”


The IMRP Class of 2024 started on July 1. They and their medical college are:


They are joined by Shelby Sweat, DO, a preliminary year resident who will practice for a year with the IMRP before continuing her training in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Dr. Sweat earned her medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.


This year’s Chief Residents are Dr. Jamila Pham and Dr. Joshuam Ruiz Vega, recent graduates of the residency program who will be staying with the IMRP for an additional year. The Chief Residents act as liaisons between faculty members and residents, serve as mentors, and help design and create educational activities, in addition to providing patient care.


“We are thrilled to have this new group of physicians join our residency program.  Their backgrounds, achievements and connections to Georgia will be an asset to our program and community for years to come,” said Dr. Ward.


Program leaders also are celebrating the success of the outgoing Class of 2021. Of the 10 graduating residents and recently departed former Chief Resident, four will remain in Georgia to practice or will continue their medical education at Emory University. Of those four, two will stay in the Athens area: Dr. Pham and Dr. Ruiz Vega as Chief Residents at St. Mary’s Hospital.  The other two will be practicing as hospitalists in Rome and Moultrie, Georgia.


“This is tremendous that four of our residents will be staying in Georgia as we continue to combat the physician shortage,” said Shelley Nuss, MD, Campus Dean and Designated Institutional Official of the AU/UGA Medical Partnership.


The IMRP is a joint effort by the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership and St. Mary’s, the program’s Major Participating Site. The program’s goal is to address the physician shortage in Georgia.


“Being the site of the first medical residency program in Northeast Georgia continues to be a tremendous honor for St. Mary’s,” said Jason Smith, MD, St. Mary’s Chief Medical Officer. “Residents bring new energy and enthusiasm into our clinical areas. At the same time, working with these new physicians is exciting for our medical staff. We welcome our sixth class of residents and are looking forward to working side-by-side with them over the next three years to further raise the bar for clinical excellence at St. Mary’s and across Northeast Georgia.”


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SGMC Among Nation’s Top Performing Hospitals for Treatment of Heart Attack Patients 1:40 pm

South Georgia Media Center has received the American College of Cardiology’s NCDR Chest Pain  ̶  MI Registry Silver Performance Achievement Award for 2021. SGMC is the only hospital in the region and among only eight in the state of Georgia and 132 nationwide to receive the honor.


The award recognizes SGMC’s commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of care for heart attack patients and signifies that SGMC has reached an aggressive goal of treating these patients to standard levels of care as outlined by the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association clinical guidelines and recommendations.


SGMC has demonstrated sustained achievement in the Chest Pain  ̶   MI Registry for four consecutive quarters during 2020 and performed with distinction in specific performance measures. Participation in the registry encourages hospitals to use their data to drive improvements in adherence to guideline recommendations and overall quality of care provided to heart attack patients. The Chest Pain  ̶  MI Registry also empowers health care provider teams to consistently treat heart attack patients according to the most current, science-based guidelines and establishes a national standard for understanding and improving the quality, safety and outcomes of care provided for patients with coronary artery disease, specifically high-risk heart attack patients.


“We have implemented patient-centered strategies with many disciplines in order to meet the criteria for this award,” states Dr. Doug Luke, Chief of Cardiology at SGMC. “The cardiovascular team, which includes cardiologists, cardiac surgeons and mid-level providers, have contributed to this achievement. The Hospitalist group, private medical physicians, and nursing staff from all areas, as well as cardiac rehab services, cath lab and outpatient cath lab prep and recovery staff, EPIC team, and medical records staff have all been vital to our successes. Our NCDR data abstractors have been instrumental in showing us our strengths, and where we have room for improvements that will benefit our patients. We are excited to receive this recognition of our collective work, and look forward to continuing to improve heart attack care for this community.”


The Centers for Disease Control estimates that almost 700,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year. A heart attack occurs when a blood clot in a coronary artery partially or completely blocks blood flow to the heart muscle. Treatment guidelines include administering aspirin upon arrival and discharge, timely restoration of blood flow to the blocked artery, smoking cessation counseling and cardiac rehabilitation, among others.


SGMC’s Dasher Heart Center offers an extensive heart and vascular program with seven cardiologists, three cardiothoracic surgeons and a vascular surgeon. SGMC has also been recognized by the American Heart Association with the 2020 Get with the Guidelines Gold award for inpatient hospital resuscitation.


For more information visit

Lower Your Skin Cancer Risk with Safety Tips from Atrium Health Navicent 2:11 pm

Spending time outdoors is a great way to be physically active, reduce stress and have fun, but too much unprotected exposure to the sun can be dangerous.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, an invisible type of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds and sunlamps. UV rays can damage skin cells.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your skin from too much UV exposure and lower your skin cancer risk:

“If you’ve had three major, blistering sunburns in your lifetime – just three – you’re at an increased risk of skin cancer. Plan ahead by applying sunscreen before you leave home and don’t forget to reapply often,” said Dr. Paul Dale, Chief of Surgical Oncology for Atrium Health Navicent and Medical Director of the Peyton Anderson Cancer Center, Atrium Health Navicent. “If you’re concerned about a mole or another spot on your skin, see your primary care doctor. Moles that itch or change shape, size or color should be examined as soon as possible. The earlier we identify cancer, the better we can treat it.”

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and well-being through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit



SGMC Now Offering Advanced Wound Care Therapies 2:56 pm

South Georgia Medical Center held a ribbon cutting ceremony with the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce on June 28 to celebrate its new partnership with Healogics and the subsequent enhancement of SGMC Wound Care and Hyperbarics. 


SGMC partnered with Healogics, the nation’s leading provider of advanced, chronic wound care services to enhance the treatment options available for people living with chronic, non-healing wounds.  


According to SGMC Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer Randy Smith, “It is very clear that patients in our area can benefit from the advanced therapy and we are proud to be able to offer it. Wound care is something that many people don’t consider until they have a wound that is not healing right. Our center will give patients comfort that their wounds are going to heal properly reducing their risk of a more serious wound problem.” 


It is estimated that chronic wounds affect 6.7 million people in the U.S. and that number is rising, fueled by an aging population and increasing rates of conditions such as diabetes, obesity and the late effects of radiation therapy.  If left untreated chronic wounds can lead to diminished quality of life and possibly amputation of the affected limb. 


Part of the new advanced therapy includes Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) which speeds up healing of carbon monoxide poisoning, gangrene, stubborn wounds, and infections in which tissues are starved for oxygen. HBOT is administered via one of two hyperbaric chambers available at the center. The chambers allow patients to breathe in pure oxygen in air pressure levels 1.5 to 3 times higher than average, filling the blood with enough oxygen to repair tissues. Patients who are not responding to traditional treatments or experiencing radiation wounds from cancer treatments, traumatic or surgical injuries, and carbon monoxide poisoning may qualify for HBOT.  


Danna Simpson, Program Director, states, “Having Hyperbaric Therapy here in our community offers patients an opportunity for treatment that can do more than heal their stubborn wounds, it can save their life.” 


SGMC Wound Care and Hyperbarics is located at 2330 N. Ashley Street in Valdosta.  Healogics is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, and has a nationwide network of over 600 Wound Care Centers®. For more information visit 

Atrium Health Navicent Encourages Fireworks and Gun Safety for Independence Day Holiday 1:19 pm

Physicians urge caution in fireworks use and discourage celebratory gunfire


According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 15,600 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2020. Two thirds of those injuries occurred in the weeks immediately before and immediately after the Independence Day holiday.

The most common injuries include burns to the hands and fingers, followed by injuries that involve the head, face, ears and eyes. Fireworks, including sparklers and flares, can cause serious burns as well as blast injuries that can permanently impair vision and hearing.

Physicians at The Medical Center, Navicent Health — Atrium Health Navicent’s nationally-verified Level I Trauma Center — encourage celebrants to protect themselves and their children from firework injuries by following these tips:

“Here at Atrium Health Navicent we take care of numerous fireworks-related injuries every holiday, but more so around July 4th and New Years. Fireworks should not be viewed as toys and are not for children,” said Dr. John Wood, Medical Director of the Emergency Center at The Medical Center, Navicent Health. “When used, safety precautions should be followed such as using eye protection and not lighting fireworks indoors. It is important to never hold a firework while lighting it.”

In the event of an eye injury, seek medical attention immediately.

“Fifteen percent of fireworks injuries are eye injuries,” said Dr. Monali Sakhalkar, an ophthalmologist with Ophthalmology, Navicent Health. “In the most severe cases, fireworks can rupture the globe of the eye, cause chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions and retinal detachment, all of which can cause permanent eye damage or vision loss.”

If your eye is injured due to fireworks, do not rub or rinse the eye. Do not apply pressure or remove objects stuck in the eye. Do not apply ointments or take blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen unless directed by a doctor.

Physicians also urge revelers to avoid firing guns in celebration of the holiday. Bullets returning to the ground due to celebratory gunfire can cause serious injury or death for bystanders. Atrium Health Navicent is participating in the Georgia Stay SAFE campaign, which promotes safe gun storage and the prevention of firearm injuries in children.

“During the holidays, we also see an increase in gun-related injuries. Please follow standard gun safety procedures, do not fire a gun into the air in a celebratory fashion and please keep guns away from children,” Wood said. “Also never mix fireworks or guns with the use of alcohol or drugs.”

If an accident or injury occurs, seek appropriate medical treatment. For emergency situations, call 911 or seek care at the nearest emergency center. Atrium Health Navicent offers emergency care at the following locations:

For non-life threatening injuries, visit your nearest urgent care provider. Navicent Health provides urgent care at three Macon-Bibb County locations. Visit to reserve an appointment.

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and well-being through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit





St. Mary’s resumes Life After Loss support group 3:57 pm

The loss of a loved one can be an emotional roller coaster, filled with an intense and sometimes debilitating mix of emotions – especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. For adults grieving the loss of a loved one through death, St. Mary’s Hospital is resuming Life After Loss, a free bereavement and grief support group.


The group’s first meeting will be Thursday, Aug. 5, from 5:45-6:45 p.m. at St. Mary’s Hospital on Baxter Street. The group will then continue to meet at the same time on the first and third Thursdays of each month.


Life After Loss is designed to help those who are experiencing the loss of a loved one work through their experience, express their feelings, and find support among others facing a similar loss. People can attend as many sessions as they wish and no registration is required. At each meeting, facilitator Rev. Jessica Chicken will help pose thoughtful questions and guide discussion of healthy and meaningful ways to cope with grief.


Rev. Chicken, the manager of spiritual care at St. Mary’s, holds master’s degrees in divinity and thanatology, a field focused specifically on grief and loss. She has more than eight years of experience as a hospital chaplain, including extensive work with grieving families. Rev. Chicken is also a certified therapy dog handler who often works with her trained Schnauzer, Ollie.


“Before the pandemic struck, we were able to help many people cope with their grief through this group,” Rev. Chicken said. “Now that COVID transmission numbers have declined and many people are vaccinated, we are able to resume Life After Loss. It’s particularly needed now because so many people lost loved ones over the past year without the aid of normal means of coping. We are here to help any adult learn healthy and effective ways to cope with the loss of someone they love.”


Life After Loss is free and open to any adult who would like to attend. Meetings are held in the Lobby Conference Room of St. Mary’s Hospital, 1230 Baxter St., Athens. The meeting room is easily accessible from the hospital’s parking deck and Registration Entrance directly across from the parking deck’s lower access point. Participants will need to complete St. Mary’s COVID-19 screening process when they enter the building and wear a mask while in the facility.


For information, please call 706.389.3426. If Rev. Chicken is not at her desk, please leave a message and she will return your call as soon as possible.


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Atlas Health and Wayne Memorial Partner to Enhance Community Access to Critical Health Care 1:24 pm

Atlas Health, the leader in medical financial aid for vulnerable populations, today announced that Wayne Memorial Hospital is on track to match its patients with more than $1 million in financial medical aid this year, a year-over-year increase of more than 500 percent. To date, the partnership has enabled the award-winning, rural hospital to reduce the financial burden of critical and lifesaving care for 45 patients and deliver on its mission of providing high-quality care for all patients.

Like many rural communities, 17.5 percent of Wayne County, Georgia residents do not have insurance with many others enrolled in Medicare and high-deductible commercial plans but unable to cover their co-insurance. In response, Wayne Memorial developed a robust charity care program that supports patients in need—but leaves it unreimbursed for care delivered. To maintain financial sustainability, its staff called foundations and other philanthropic programs to identify funds to cover eligible patients’ costs.

“Tapping into the 10,000+ patient financial aid programs that exist is impossible for healthcare staff to manually manage,” said Ethan Davidoff, CEO and founder of Atlas Health. “Wayne Memorial is quickly growing, expanding its life-saving infusion therapy capacity, and recognized that an automated approach to philanthropic reimbursement could help secure more of these resources for their patients. We are honored that they trust us to fill this mission critical need for delivering affordable and accessible care to their local community.”

Atlas Health’s end-to-end financial aid solution can be implemented easily and quickly – with no capital investment, resources or personnel required. The proprietary AI-powered technology and automated approach quickly scales to evaluate all medical financial aid programs and predict the optimal eligible coverage options based on historical EMR data and a registration questionnaire. At Wayne Memorial, the digital, pre-populated applications and patient authorization have contributed to a 75 percent reduction in the time investment needed to submit a clean claim and 50 percent time reduction for philanthropic aid applications.

“Rural hospitals have unique challenges, but we constantly look ahead to raise the bar on what we can do for our community,” said Greg Jones, chief financial officer for Wayne Memorial Hospital. “Expanding access to more affordable care was a priority, and Atlas Health’s total solution has delivered so that we can care for more patients in need.”

To learn more about Atlas Health’s innovative approach to helping providers support access to affordable care, visit


About Atlas Health

Atlas Health, the leader in medical financial aid for vulnerable populations, is improving and saving lives by empowering providers and payors with an end-to-end solution for matching and enrolling patients in medical financial aid programs through its proprietary technology and AI-powered platform, Atlas Navigator. Patients receive the care they need, providers secure reimbursement for care delivered, and payors save money. Find out how no patient is left behind at



About Wayne Memorial Hospital

Wayne Memorial Hospital, whose mission is to provide high quality health care services to all patients, built a state-of-the-art facility in 2007. It is the third largest employer in Wayne County with 500 employees, 84 beds and is a three-time winner of the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals Small Hospital of the Year Award.



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