Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) plans to expand its hospital in Braselton to meet the growing needs of the surrounding communities by adding inpatient beds and expanding the Emergency Department. The expansion paves the way for several anticipated improvements at Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Braselton including:


A Certificate of Need (CON) application has also been filed with the state to add more operating rooms to expand available surgeries and procedures. Additional expansion also includes the construction of an endovascular operating room for the performance of complex vascular and cardiac cases. Areas for care before and after surgery will also be expanded

“We began planning for the Braselton campus almost 20 years ago, working with community leaders who shared our vision for what this hospital could become,” says Anthony Williamson, president of NGMC Braselton. “This expansion is not only a reflection of the growth of the Braselton area, but also of our original plan to continue to add timely, comprehensive, much needed health-related services for the community.”

The expansion is scheduled to begin in late November, with new patient care floors completed in summer 2025. The Emergency Department expansion is expected to be complete in 2026. The total estimated cost of the entire planned expansion is nearly $565 million.

“This is another of our many projects we refer to as ‘Growing the Greater Good,’” says Carol Burrell, president & CEO of NGHS. “That phrase is a reminder that, when we grow to care for more patients and expand our clinical services, we’re ultimately reinvesting in the overall health of our region – whether that’s through the care we provide, creating new jobs, or the ripple effect high-quality health care can have in a community.”

Learn more about all of NGHS’ Growing the Greater Good projects at



Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) is a non-profit on a mission of improving the health of our community in all we do. Our team cares for more than 1 million people across the region through four hospitals and a variety of outpatient locations. Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) has campuses in Gainesville, Braselton, Winder and Dahlonega – with a total of more than 750 beds and more than 1,200 medical staff members representing more than 60 specialties. Learn more at


Since 1951, Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) has been on a mission of improving the health of our community in all we do. With hospitals located in Gainesville, Braselton, Winder and Dahlonega, the four NGMC campuses have a total of more than 750 beds and more than 1,200 medical staff members representing more than 60 specialties. NGMC is part of Northeast Georgia Health System, a non-profit that cares for more than one million people across more than 19 counties. Learn more at


Join Atrium Health Navicent in Preventing Premature Births 6:38 pm

The community is invited to join Atrium Health Navicent in recognizing November as Prematurity Awareness Month, an opportunity to raise awareness about the 380,000 babies born premature in the United States each year, and what we can do to help prevent premature births.

Each year, 1 in 10 babies is born premature, which means they are born prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy. These babies miss out on important development that happens in the final weeks of pregnancy. Preterm babies can have short- and long-term health problems, or even die.

In 2021, the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card gave the U.S. a letter grade of C- with a prematurity rate of

10.1 percent. That same year, Georgia’s prematurity rate was 11.4 percent, earning a letter grade of D-.

“Prematurity is one of the leading causes of infant mortality,” said Dr. Mitch Rodriguez, a neonatologist and medical

director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and business development officer for Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight

Olson Children’s Hospital. “While a number of factors may contribute to a premature birth, we encourage women to

receive preconception care which helps identify and modify medical, behavioral and social health risks with the goal of

having a healthy pregnancy.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and doctors at Atrium Health Navicent, risk factors that contribute to premature births include:

• Delivering a premature baby in the past

• Being pregnant with multiples

• Tobacco use or other substance abuse

• Less than 18 months between pregnancies

• Uterine abnormalities

• Teen pregnancy

• Advanced maternal age

• Low socioeconomic status

• COVID-19 illness

The 2021 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card indicated racial and ethnic disparities in premature birth rates across the United States. The premature birth rate among black women is 51 percent higher than the rate among all other women.

Georgia has the second-highest maternal mortality rate in the nation, and due to a number of factors, black women in our state are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications.

As part of Atrium Health Navicent’s ongoing commitment to improving outcomes for babies and their mothers, the health system has received a grant for a care coordinator to support its High-Risk Obstetric Care Management program. The care coordinator will work with patients to address social determinants of health, such as access to nutritious foods, transportation, income or social support, which may form barriers to care, and help provide assistance in bridging those barriers, including linking patients to available community resources.

If you or a loved one are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, preconception care and prenatal care with doctors at Atrium Health Navicent are key in helping to prevent premature births. Preventative measures include lifestyle modification, supplementation with progesterone during future pregnancies and management of chronic medical conditions.

To find a doctor, visit and click “Find A Doctor.”

About Atrium Health Navicent Atrium Health Navicent, the leading provider of health care in central and south Georgia, is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Providing more than 1,000 beds and offering care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region, Atrium Health Navicent provides care for health care consumers’ through an academic medical center; community, pediatric and rehabilitation hospitals; urgent care centers; physician practices; diagnostic centers; home health; hospice and palliative care; and a life plan community. Atrium Health Navicent is dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. For more information, please visit


Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals recognizes Deb Bailey from Northeast Georgia Health System as first recipient of “Outstanding Women of Healthcare” 2:24 pm

The Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, which represents 104 not-for-profit hospitals in Georgia, presented their first “Outstanding Women of Healthcare” award to Deb Bailey, Executive Director of Government Affairs for Northeast Georgia Health System.


“Georgia has been fortunate to have Deb Bailey watching out for our patients and our hospitals. Her career encompasses the changes in Georgia, our population, Northeast Georgia Health System, and healthcare in general, from serving as a bedside nurse, a nursing leader, early proponent of computers in healthcare, and the strength and security of Georgia’s modern healthcare system. She has consistently put patients first throughout her career,” said Monty Veazey, President and CEO of the Alliance.


“She has helped lead the technological revolution in patient care and expanded the role of women in leadership in healthcare. She served as Vice President for Nursing for a number of years, placing her passion for direct patient care at the forefront. She has been a great nursing educator, holding many roles, and contributing volumes to the professional and academic literature, including the American Journal of Nursing’s Book of the Year, and as a co-author of four psychiatric textbooks and numerous contributions to test on medical topics and her latest work on the opioid epidemic,” said Carol Burrell, President and CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System.


“No one has done more to advance Georgia’s healthcare system with the patient at the center than Deb Bailey,” said Georgia Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller, who represents part of Hall County.


Mr. Veazey and Ms. Burrell were joined in presenting the “Outstanding Women in Healthcare” award by Senator Butch Miller, Senator Steve Gooch, State Representative Dr. Lee Hawkins, State Rep. Matt Dubnik, Ms. Bailey’s husband, Jerry Coker, and other members of her family.

Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals names Piedmont Atlanta Hospital 2022 Large Hospital of the Year 5:02 pm

Piedmont Atlanta, with 643 licensed beds, is widely viewed as a leader in providing high quality healthcare in its hometown of Atlanta, and was named 2022 Large Hospital of the Year by the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, which represents 104 not-for-profit hospitals in Georgia.


“Piedmont Atlanta Hospital has shown it has the scale to provide world-class health care in a large Metropolitan area, while retaining the highest standard or car, and offering patients personalized care, as well as expanding its reach outside its walls into the community,” said Alliance President and CEO Monty Veazey.


“Piedmont Atlanta showed leadership in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when they were able to bring their new Marcus Tower into operation four months early, increasing the number of available ICU beds at the height of demand,” said Veazey.


“I am pleased to recognize the leadership and excellence shown by Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, not just battling COVID-19, but continuing to develop innovative services that keep the patient at the center of their mission,” said Veazey.


Piedmont Atlanta’s Piedmont Heart Institute was recently recognized as the U.S. News and World Reports best hospital in Georgia for cardiology and heart surgery.


Employing 3,700 healthcare professionals, including 2,100 physicians and advance practice providers, Piedmont Atlanta in 2021 received nearly 52,000 Emergency Department visits, along with close to 267,000 outpatient encounters and over 25,300 inpatient admissions.


In 2021, Piedmont Atlanta teamed with LifeLink to open Georgia’s first LifeLink Organ Recovery Center, which created an innovative organ recovery process that produces better outcome s for donors and recipients at lower cost. That same year, Piedmont Atlanta was certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by DNV GL, the international accrediting organization.


Further expanding its healthcare capacity during the pandemic, Piedmont Atlanta opened its Neuroscience Intensive Care unit in late 2020 with ten beds and 32 Neuro floor beds, and has since grown its neuro floor to 48 beds.


Outside its Atlanta campus, Piedmont Atlanta partnered with local organizations to offer COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals names Effingham Health System 2022 Small Hospital of the Year 4:00 pm

The Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals named Effingham Health System as our 2022 Hospital of the Year at their Annual Conference on October 13, 2022. The Alliance represents 104 not-for-profit hospitals in Georgia.


“I am pleased to announce that Effingham Health System was named 2022 Small Hospital of the Year for their focus on providing top-notch patient care, and expanding their vital healthcare services into their community with innovative Telemedicine programs,” said Alliance President and CEO Monty Veazey.


“Effingham Health System’s innovative partnership with the Effingham County Board of Education to offer telehealth services in local schools demonstrates Effingham Health Systems commitment to their community and promotes better health outcomes for their patients,” said Veazey.


“For their constant pursuit of excellence in caring for their patients, and their commitment to outreach across their community, I am pleased to present the 2022 Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals Small Hospital of the Year to Effingham Health System,” said Veazey


Effingham Health System, based in Springfield, is located about 30 minutes north of Savannah, and includes a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital, a CMS five-star 105-bed skilled nursing facility, three rural health clinics, a primary care and occupational medicine clinic and four specialty practices, all serving southeast Georgia under the leadership of President and CEO Dr. Fran Witt. Dr. Witt’s leadership was recognized this past year when she was included in Modern Healthcare’s Top 50 Clinical Executives, and was among the 75 Black healthcare leaders to know, published by Becker’s Hospital Review.


So far this year, Effingham Health System’s focus on providing top-notch care to their patients has led to the receiving the American Heart Association (AHA) Get With The Guidelines “Gold Plus” Stroke Certification and the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) Bronze National Quality Award for their long-term care center. In 2021, EHS received the AHA “Silver Plus” Stroke Award and also received designation as a Level Three (3) Emergency Cardiac Care Center.


Effingham Health System began the first telemedicine program in the greater Savannah area in partnership with the Effingham County Board of Education. EHS TELEMED brings patient care into schools for faculty, staff, and student care without their having to leave the school grounds. After starting at Guyton Elementary and Springfield Elementary, the program expanded to reach all elementary and middle schools in Effingham County.

Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals names Phoebe Putney Health System CEO Scott Steiner as 2022 CEO of the Year 5:38 pm

The Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, which represents 104 not-for-profit hospitals in Georgia named Phoebe Putney Health System President and Chief Executive Office Scott Steiner as their 2022 CEO of the Year.


“Early 2020 brought new challenges for hospitals as COVID-19 up-ended the nation’s economy, killed more than a million Americans, and threatened our state and nation. Phoebe Putney Health System was one of the first to be hit with large numbers of patients and the care they provided saved thousands of lives in South Georgia,” said Alliance President and CEO Monty Veazey.


“We in Georgia and, especially those of us affected by what happens in the 41-county area of Southwest Georgia served by Phoebe Putney Health System were fortunate that Scott Steiner was CEO of Phoebe Putney since March 2019,” said Veazey.


Georgia, and particularly the Albany and Southwest Georgia region, are fortunate to have a financially stable, well-staffed, and well-equipped Phoebe Putney Health System to treat their citizens,” said Veazey. “Phoebe Putney’s ability to withstand the new threat not only saved lives in their communities, it demonstrated the importance of financial strength, patient-focused care, and the role of the community hospital as the primary healthcare delivery system for Georgia.”


“It is an honor to receive this award and recognition, but it truly is a team effort. The ongoing pandemic has been hard on all of us. However, it has been my privilege to witness the continued dedication and resilience of our team as we continue to work together to respond to challenges. I am truly grateful for my Phoebe Family who through it all has never lost sight or focus on providing the highest quality of care to everyone we serve in southwest Georgia,” said Scott Steiner, President & CEO, Phoebe Putney Health System.


Phoebe leadership and Scott Steiner didn’t rest on their laurels as COVID receded. Through the pandemic, they continued working on Phoebe Focus, a patient-centered strategic plan to improve patient safety and quality care that includes a 5-year, $250 million dollar capital campaign to not just improve the hospital but to strengthen and expand their community outreach.


This year brought substantial progress on their strategic plan with Board approval of plans for a new emergency and trauma center, a new neonatal intensive care unit, and a new intensive care unit, all specifically developed to put patient care and safety first.


PHOTO ATTACHED: Left to right, Monty Veazey, President and CEO, Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals; Scott Steiner, President and CEO, Phoebe Putney Health System; and presenter Bert Bennett, CPA, Draffin Tucker LLC.

Join Atrium Health Navicent in Observing National SIDS Awareness Month 5:34 pm

Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital invites the community to observe National SIDS Awareness Month during October by learning about how SIDS risk can be reduced.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of a child less than 1 year old that remains

unexplained after a complete investigation. These deaths often occur during sleep, or in the baby’s sleep area. SIDS is

one type of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), which also includes suffocation, entrapment, trauma and cardiac


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 3,400 babies in the United States die each

year from SUID. Of these, more than 1 in 3 are attributable to SIDS. In 2020, there were about 1,389 deaths due to SIDS,

about 1,062 deaths due to unknown causes and about 905 deaths due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.

In Georgia, for every 100,000 births, 127.9 infants die from sudden unexpected events including SIDS. That figure is well

above the U.S. average of 92.9.

According to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, SIDS is the leading

cause of death among babies between 1 month and 1 year of age.

Although the cause of SIDS is unknown, there are ways to reduce your infant’s risk. According to the American Academy

of Pediatrics, all of the following decrease the risk of SIDS:

Infants should be placed on their backs to sleep until they reach 1 year of age. Side sleeping is not advised.

Babies should be placed on a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress covered by a fitted sheet. No other soft

objects should be placed near the infant, to reduce risk of suffocation. It is recommended that infants sleep in their

parents’ bedroom, on a separate sleep surface, at least for the first six months, but ideally for the first year.

• Do not cover your baby’s head or allow your baby to get too hot. Signs your baby may be getting too hot include sweating or their chest feeling hot.

• Feed your baby breastmilk. Babies who are breastfed or are fed expressed breastmilk are at lower risk for SIDS compared with babies who were never fed breastmilk.

• Mothers should not smoke during pregnancy or after a baby’s birth. Parents are encouraged to set strict rules

about smoke-free homes and cars to eliminate second-hand smoke exposure to infants. In addition, mothers

should not use alcohol or drugs during pregnancy.

Pregnant women should follow their doctor’s guidelines for frequency of prenatal visits. Babies whose mothers

obtained regular prenatal care are at a lower risk for SIDS.

Recent evidence suggests that vaccines may protect against SIDS. Infants should regularly receive well-baby

checkups and should get their shots on time as recommended by their doctor.

“Although SIDS cases have declined in the past three decades due to the adoption of safe sleep recommendations, a

baby’s risk of death from SIDS in the first year of life is still 20 times higher than the risk of death during the child’s next 17

years,” said

Dr. Yameika Head, director of Clinical Practice – Pediatrics for Atrium Health Navicent Medical Group, who also serves on the Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office’s Child Fatality Review panel. “While it’s recommended

that infants sleep in their parents’ bedroom, co-sleeping — an adult and a baby sharing a bed — is dangerous and

increases SIDS risk. It’s imperative that parents, guardians, daycare workers, babysitters and anyone else who provides

care for babies learns about the importance of safe sleep practices and protecting babies from second-hand smoke

exposure.” To find a pediatrician or pediatric specialist, and to learn about our children’s services, visit

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 wellbeing 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



Because of Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS)’s commitment to staff and the surrounding region, NGHS was recently named to Forbes magazine’s list of America’s Best Employers By State. The list ranked 1,382 employers across the nation and ranked NGHS among the top 15 organizations in Georgia.

            “To be recognized as one of Georgia’s Best Employers by Forbes Magazine is an honor and privilege,” said Carol Burrell, CEO for Northeast Georgia Health System. “Here at NGHS, our employees and patients come first. Our organization continuously strives to provide fair pay, safe working conditions, inclusive culture, diversity initiatives and more. We have learned to work together through the challenges and difficulties of the past few years, which is why I am so proud to see us recognized as one of America’s Best Employers.”

            Forbes, in collaboration with market research company Statista, surveyed 70,000 employees working for businesses with more than 500 employees. Respondents were asked to rate their employers on a variety of criteria, including safety of work environment, competitiveness of compensation, opportunities for advancement and openness to telecommuting. Read more about the methodology here.

            For a full list of career opportunities at NGHS, visit




Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) is a non-profit on a mission of improving the health of our community in all we do. Our team cares for more than 1 million people across the region through four hospitals and a variety of outpatient locations. Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) has campuses in Gainesville, Braselton, Winder and Dahlonega – with a total of more than 750 beds and more than 1,200 medical staff members representing more than 60 specialties. Learn more at

SGMC Cuts Ribbon at Internal Medicine Practice on Park Avenue 12:34 pm

outh Georgia Medical Center and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber hosted a ribbon cutting for SGMC Internal Medicine located at 604 East Park Avenue in Valdosta. SGMC Internal Medicine is part of SGMC’s growing primary care network that serves residents in Lowndes, Lanier, Berrien, and beyond. 


This new practice is a component of SGMC’s graduate medical education program in partnership with Mercer University School of Medicine. Medical providers practicing at this location are physicians completing their 3-year internal medicine specialty residency training at SGMC. They include Dr. Rija Chaudhary, Dr. Venkata Gandi, Dr. Priyanka Kalan, Dr. Monica Kovuri, Dr. Dwayne Mohan, Dr. Anum Munir, Dr. Shilpa Reddy, and Dr. Rosaida Silverio-Lopez. 


Dr. Joseph Hayes serves as the Medical Director and oversees patient care and clinical skills development for the physicians. When the residency program is fully operational in 2024, there will be 24 physicians rotating through the clinic, each for a three-year term.   


SGMC’s graduate medical education serves to create a broader pipeline of doctors in rural communities. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, about 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas but barely one-tenth of physicians practice there. Physicians are more likely to locate in the area where they do their training. By offering a residency program in Valdosta, SGMC seeks to increase the number of physicians serving rural areas. 

Patients seen by residents experience several advantages in regard to their care. Benefits include being evaluated by a resident physician who is also overseen by a Medical Director and receiving more time with their physician since residents do not yet have an established patient base. Additionally, patients play a vital role in education and training which supports the future of medicine in South Georgia. 


Anyone over the age of 18 can call 229-433-5260 to make an appointment at SGMC Internal Medicine at Park Avenue. The clinic is open Monday through Thursday, 8am-5pm and Friday, 8am-noon. 


To learn more, visit 

Wayne Memorial Wins Two State Level Awards Focused on Maternal and Infant Health 1:17 pm

Wayne Memorial Hospital in Jesup has been awarded two state level awards due to their increased focus on maternal and infant health. As part of their commitment to quality improvement and as a member of the Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative (GaPQC), Wayne Memorial was a winner of the Dedication to Maternal Quality Improvement Award from GaPQC, as the hospital achieved a 72 percent reduction in severe maternal morbidity for hypertension from 2016-2022 The hospital also met the qualifications to attain GaPQC’s Rural Hospitals Maternal Outcomes Achievement Award. Wayne is one of 14 winning hospitals in the state to qualify for this award. Hospital Nurse Lois Hershberger shares that Drs. Jeffrey Harris and Sandra Mager found the GaPQC state grant in 2018 and brought it to the hospital for consideration.  The program brings hospitals together in a formal collaboration to share strategies for improvement, data collection and educational opportunities. There are 37 hospitals total in the state of Georgia that deliver babies.


“Wayne Memorial’s physicians and Obstetrics Staff have always looked and continue to look at improvement. They do so by weighing current policies for improved assessment, early recognition and treatment strategies – strategies that are effective, quickly accessed and then standardized for all patients across the continuum of care,” said Dr. Jeffrey Harris of Wayne Obstetrics and Gynecology.


Hershberger added, “Two-thirds of women in Georgia must travel outside of their home county to obtain prenatal care and to deliver their baby, because the care is unavailable otherwise. In fact, 37% of Wayne Memorial’s deliveries in 2021 were from patients living in counties without a delivering hospital. And, 23% live in counties with delivery hospitals, but chose to come to Wayne Memorial instead.” Currently, there are 37 hospitals total in the state of Georgia that deliver babies.


Maternal and infant health has been a focus globally and locally. According to the World Health Organization, the maternal mortality ratio (the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) decreased by approximately 38 percent between 2000 and 2017. In the state of Georgia, lawmakers have chosen to address the issue via HR 589.


GaPQC’s mission is to establish and maintain a robust statewide perinatal data and quality improvement system that engages stakeholders in evidence-based practices to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies throughout Georgia. Their vision is for all perinatal stakeholders in Georgia coming together to improve health and outcomes for all Georgia mothers and babies.


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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