GAINESVILLE, Ga. – The radiation oncology and neuroscience teams at Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) recently partnered to provide the region’s first treatment for arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a tangle of abnormal blood vessels in the brain. Because of the high risk for stroke and myriad neurological conditions associated with AVM, patients have traditionally been sent elsewhere for care – but now they can get the care they need close to home.
“It takes a lot of collaboration between different specialists to treat a complex neurovascular disorder like this,” said Sung Lee, MD, NGMC’s medical director of Neurointerventional Surgery and a neurointerventional surgeon with Northeast Georgia Physicians Group (NGPG). “Being able to provide this treatment speaks to how we are continuing to advance the neuroscience capabilities in this region, so patients won’t have to travel for life-saving care.”
Using his expertise in angiography, Dr. Lee first located the tangled vessels in the patient’s brain and then helped develop a plan with Craig Baden, MD, a radiation oncologist with NGPG, for targeted radiation treatment. These radiation treatment capabilities have been Dat NGMC to treat cancerous tumors for years, but – without a neurointerventional surgeon like Dr. Lee – AVM treatment wasn’t possible.
“Anytime you’re dealing with a complex problem, you need experts from multiple disciplines to come together and develop an appropriate treatment plan,” said Dr. Baden. “And for an AVM treatment, we’ve had some of the pieces in place previously, but we were missing the crucial piece of a neurointerventionalist.”
Patients oftentimes don’t know they have an AVM. Dr. Baden said it’s typically diagnosed incidentally or when a patient goes in for brain imaging due to headache, seizure or some kind of neurologic problem. When concern for AVM arises, Dr. Lee steps in to help decide the best route of treatment for the patient based on certain risk factors.
“A tumor is very easy to see on an MRI,” said Dr. Baden, who has been treating tumors with radiosurgery for years. “But when you’re talking about tiny blood vessels that are connecting improperly in the brain, the best way to see those is by putting a catheter in one of the arteries and going all the way up into the vascular system in the brain – that’s the expertise Dr. Lee brings to the table.”
Dr. Lee has already helped Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) offer new neuroscience care capabilities like mechanical thrombectomy, a critical stroke intervention procedure. With his expertise in angiography, he’s further pushing the program to new heights.
“Dr. Lee is truly an asset to this health system and this region as a whole,” said Meghan Glabach, executive director of Neurosciences at NGHS. “With his help, we’re continually expanding stroke care at NGHS. Our campuses in Barrow, Braselton and Gainesville are now all certified as Primary Stroke Centers, and we plan to continue expanding, putting NGMC on the map as a leader in neurosciences.”
To learn more about NGMC’s neurological care, visit nghs.com/neurosciences.
ABOUT NORTHEAST GEORGIA HEALTH SYSTEM
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 700 beds and more than 1,100 medical staff members representing more than 50 specialties. Learn more at www.nghs.com.
GAINESVILLE, Ga. – During their 60-year marriage, Verdis C. and Mary Puckett lived by the values of faith, humility, kindness, service, stewardship and most of all, love. Now, through a signature gift to the Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) Foundation, Mary and her late husband have ensured those same values continue to be carried out within Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Gainesville through the V.C. and Mary Puckett Center for Spiritual Care.
“Verdis always cared so much about the people around him — friends and family, church members, customers and especially his employees,” said Mary. “I wanted to make sure that together, even after he passed, we could do something to help care for those around us. Having the Puckett Center for Spiritual Care carry our family name is a great honor, and I know Verdis would be proud.”
V.C. served in the United States Army, rising to the rank of First Lieutenant, while Mary had a successful career as an executive secretary for several businesses. Together, they owned Gainesville Iron Works from 1961 to 1995, and the business grew from a local steel supply firm to one with product and service distribution throughout the Southeast. They also owned Power Cranes, Inc.
“It’s hard to find words to express how grateful we are to the Pucketts,” said Chris Bray, president and chief development officer of the NGHS Foundation. “Their generosity and passion for helping others is evident as these renovations and enhancements will pay dividends for all who walk through the hospital doors for years to come.”
The Puckett Center for Spiritual Care reopened after being refurbished to meet the needs of the program. With 20 volunteer chaplains, four chaplain residents and seven full-time staff chaplains, the space needed an enhanced lobby, larger reception and conference space, lockers and bathrooms for round-the-clock chaplains, as well as a few new welcoming touches that reflect the services provided. The renovated space offers a more calming and hospitable environment for the volunteer chaplains and other guests.
“This is really for all of the people we come in contact with as a Spiritual Care department,” said Chris Jennings, director of Spiritual Care at NGMC. “We want to serve them in the best way possible, and this renovated space will help us achieve that.”
Along with the renovation, what used to be known as Pastoral Care at NGMC will now be known as Spiritual Care. As the department has grown, it has become apparent that NGMC serves a wide range of people with myriad religious backgrounds — making Spiritual Care a more fitting name. Members of the department providing spiritual care will be identified as chaplains, instead of clergy or pastors.
To learn more about the Spiritual Care department at NGMC, call 770-219-5077 or visit nghs.com/spiritual-care-services.
ABOUT NORTHEAST GEORGIA MEDICAL CENTER
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 700 beds and more than 1,100 medical staff members representing more than 50 specialties. NGMC is part of Northeast Georgia Health System, a non-profit that cares for more than 1 million people across more than 18 counties. Learn more at www.nghs.com.