GAINESVILLE, Ga. – On August 12, 2002, Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) changed the region's access to heart care when it started offering cardiac surgery and cardiac interventions, such as angioplasty and stents, through the Ronnie Green Heart Center. Since that day, more than 67,000 patients have trusted their cardiovascular care to NGMC. It also didn’t take long for NGMC to rise to elite levels by being named Georgia’s #1 heart hospital, and top five percent in the nation for cardiac care, for seven years in a row (2006 – 2012, HealthGrades®).
“It’s remarkable to think of what our program has accomplished in such a short amount of time,” says Carol Burrell, President and CEO of Northeast Georgia Health System. “Our Heart & Vascular Services have been key in our transformation from a traditional community hospital to an emerging leader for health care in the state and nation.
“Congratulations and thank you to our patients, physicians, staff, volunteers and donors. I can’t wait to see what we’ll work together to accomplish during the next decade.”
Open heart surgery and cardiac intervention programs at NGMC were made possible by a $4 million signature gift to The Medical Center Foundation by Frank & Lillie Mae Green from the estate of their only son, Ronnie, who died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 55. In his memory, NGMC opened the Ronnie Green Heart Center (RGHC), which now provides critical care for patients following heart surgery or interventions. Daniel Winston, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgeons and medical director of Cardiac Surgery at NGMC, has been an integral part of the RGHC since its creation.
“The generous donation from the Green family not only gave our open heart surgery program a tremendous head start as a new service in 2002, it also exemplified how much our community supports NGMC and its commitment to providing exceptional health care, close to home,” says Dr. Winston. “Watching how the program has grown and stayed on the leading edge, due in large part to that community support, is especially rewarding.”
In recent years, NGMC has expanded its Heart & Vascular Services to offer the latest innovations in the industry including:
• Minimally invasive valve reconstruction surgery – offers less pain, smaller scars and faster recovery than traditional heart valve repairs or replacements
• Transcatheter aortic valve replacements – new treatment recently approved by the FDA for heart valve patients who previously had no option for care; NGMC is one of less than 100 programs in the nation offering this advanced procedure
• Clinical trials – NGMC participates in some of the nation's most cutting-edge research like the CorPath PRECISE Trial, which made NGMC the only hospital in Georgia to perform robotic angioplasty
“There’s plenty of evidence that demonstrates how the heart program at NGMC has grown immensely during the past decade,” says Jeffrey Marshall, MD, an interventional cardiologist with Northeast Georgia Heart Center and medical director of Cardiac Cath Labs at NGMC. “Since 2002, the amount of physician specialists in the program has climbed from less than 10 to more than 80; our cardiac intensive care unit has expanded from 17 beds to 35 beds; and the amount of patients we serve has grown more than 525 percent. The positive impact on people’s lives in the region, state and nation is undeniable.”
NGMC is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Ronnie Green Heart Center with the community through a special “10 Reasons to Celebrate 10 Years of Healing Hearts” campaign by posting special “10” signs in select locations in Hall County, thanking patients in its advertising and asking people to visit www.nghs.com/10reasons to share their own reasons for celebrating this important milestone.
“When Ronnie Green died unexpectedly in 2001, his parents wanted to turn tragedy into inspiration by supporting NGMC’s heart program so that no other family would have to experience the same pain,” says Nancy Colston, executive director of The Medical Center Foundation. “They are touched that so many people now recognize their son’s legacy in association with Georgia’s No.1 heart hospital.”