During a recent visit to Valdosta, Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) got a first-hand look at one of South Georgia's newest health care facilities.
Dasher Memorial Heart Center and Patient Tower at South Georgia Medical Center was opened in August and provides a variety of services and procedures including an expansion of cardiology and specialty nursing services.
Kingston, who leads the House Appropriations Subcommittee which oversees funding for federal health initiatives, says he was impressed by what he saw.
"South Georgia Medical Center continues to innovate and bring new services to our area," said Kingston. "By adding and expanding services, patients will have quicker access to specialty care and no longer have to travel to Albany-or even further-to get the care they need."
Dasher Memorial Heart Center is comprised of the first three floors in the new tower. In addition to the services offered there, the new tower houses the Medical-Surgical Intensive Care Unit as well as the Orthopedic/Neurosurgical unit. Construction on the $64 million tower began in November 2011.
"The Dasher Memorial Heart Center is a valuable community resource for cardiac patients in south central Georgia and north Florida," said SGMC Community Relations Director Laura Love. "As the region's only open heart surgery provider, we offer a high volume interventional and cardiac surgery program that is second to none. The tower was designed and built to build a better experience for our patients and their families."
While touring the facility, Kingston also received information on the hospital's dedicated program for stroke care led by Neurohospitalist, Dr. Brian Dawson. Because the Southeastern states are known for a high percentage of residents that suffer from strokes, Georgia is referred to as the "buckle" of the Stroke Belt.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 in 10 preventable heart disease and stroke deaths happen to those under the age of 65. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health also "found that exposure to the Stroke Belt during adolescence or early adulthood was more predictive of hypertension than was current residence in the Stroke Belt," concluding that preventative measures are more effective earlier in life.
"Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers from a stroke," Kingston said. "I commend SGMC and Dr. Dawson for their work to combat this growing health risk and hope the strategies developed here can be spread to other facilities across the country."
Kingston Visits Dasher Heart Center
Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA), left, confers with SGMC CEO Randy Sauls and Dr. Sidney Staton on Dasher Memorial Heart Center's many services.