News Release: Emory Healthcare

Apr. 13,  2010

Emory Surgeons to Staff New Open Heart Program at Southern Regional Medical Center

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Southern Regional Health System, Inc., and Emory Healthcare, Inc., announced today they have reached an agreement under which Emory would provide cardiothoracic surgeons to Southern Regional if Southern Regional wins state approval to perform open heart surgery at its Riverdale hospital.

"This agreement with Emory will enable us to put some of the nation's top open heart surgeons in our operating rooms from day one," says Ron Dodson, chairman of the Southern Regional Board of Directors.

Under the agreement, Emory will provide cardiothoracic surgeons, mid-level practitioners, including physicians' assistants or nurse practitioners, and perfusionists for the Southern Regional program. Emory would also provide comprehensive training for Southern Regional nurses and technical personnel who will staff the program at Southern Regional.

Robert Guyton, MD, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Emory Healthcare, says the agreement between the two healthcare systems would greatly benefit cardiac patients in the Southern Crescent. "We welcome this opportunity to partner with Southern Regional Health System in bringing state-of-the-art cardiac care to the community. Our focus is top quality cardiac care centered around the individual needs of each patient. The citizens of the Southern Crescent deserve no less."   Southern Regional on February 22, 2010, applied to the Georgia Department of Community Health for a certificate of need (CON) to provide open heart surgery services at its Riverdale hospital. In its application, Southern Regional argued that the need to establish an open heart surgery program in the Southern Crescent is clear.

"In 2009, nearly 600 Southern Crescent residents had to undergo open heart surgery, and every single one of them had to leave the area to get that critical, life-saving procedure," says Dodson. "The region is home to 850,000 people, but not one open heart program. That's a big problem, and it's one Southern Regional is determined to correct."

Because Southern Regional has made ongoing investments in its operating rooms, Dodson said, the hospital could quickly and inexpensively complete the final upgrades needed to make them ready for open heart surgery. 

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