News Release:

Oct. 10,  2008

Emory Cardiothoracic Surgeons to Provide Expertise at Athens Regional

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Athens Regional Health Services and Emory Healthcare will partner to continue the availability of new and advanced cardiac and thoracic surgery in the Northeast Georgia region.

The partnership will combine the talents of a highly skilled team of local cardiothoracic surgeons with physicians from The Emory Clinic.

"We are pleased to partner with the high quality of care provided by Athens Regional Medical Center, and to make a contribution to cardiothoracic care provided in this region," says Emory Healthcare CEO John T. Fox. "We look forward to supporting the highly skilled physicians and successful program currently in place. Working together to bring an extra level of expertise to the most challenging cardiothoracic needs will allow residents in this area to seek care close to home."

Athens Regional Medical Center is a 315-bed full service regional referral center and is part of Athens Regional Health Services, an integrated system that provides for the healthcare needs of a 17-county service area in Northeast Georgia.

"By partnering with Emory's group practice arm, The Emory Clinic, Athens Regional is able to build upon its own stellar reputation and offer highly sophisticated cardiothoracic surgical procedures primarily available in academic environments only," says Stephen K. Lucas, MD, Athens Regional Medical Center senor vice president of medical affairs and CMO. Linda Della Torre, vice president of clinical services at Athens Regional Medical Center, says, "This partnership highlights the continuing evolution of our cardiovascular services. We have had comprehensive cardiology services and an on-site open heart center since 1992, and we will now have access to the newest and most advanced cardiothoracic surgical knowledge, technology and innovation. No longer will residents of this fast growing region have to travel to Atlanta for the most advanced cardiothoracic treatment."

The Athens Regional Cardiac Vascular Center team will be working with Cullen Morris, MD, medical director, and Ulf Gudjonsson, MD, of the new Athens Regional cardiothoracic surgical team. Both surgeons are now living in the greater Athens area. Emory cardiothoracic surgeons Omar Lattouf, MD, Vinod Thourani, MD, Daniel Miller, MD, and Seth Force, MD, will further assist the senior supervising medical director, Robert Guyton, MD, also of Emory. These physicians are available, as needed, based on the volume of patients and areas of expertise.

"For more than one hundred years, Emory has been at the forefront of medicine, providing innovative research, teaching and clinical care," says Cullen Morris, MD, medical director of the Athens Regional Cardiothoracic Surgery. "For Athens area residents and the surrounding communities, Emory cardiothoracic surgeons will work in collaboration with our existing medical staff to provide the highest level of care for our patients at Athens Regional. This relationship will also create a seamless transition for patients who may need to utilize Emory for procedures such as transplants, as well as a smooth transition back home for follow-up care."

Some of the advanced, state-of-the-art procedures that will become standard offerings at ARMC include video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATs), mitral valve repair and replacement, and minimally invasive approaches whenever possible and practical.

"We will help provide a diverse menu of cardiothoracic services and superior patient care," says Robert Guyton, MD, chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine. "As Emory physicians develop and advance medicine within our clinical practice, we will be able to share this expertise with our partners at ARMC, and in turn address the needs of residents of Athens and this region."


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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