ALBANY — While being present for the recognition of some of the Albany area’s faculty physicians, the board of directors at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital also got an update on advancements in radiology.

Dr. Doug Patten, associate dean of the Medical College of Georgia’s Southwest Campus, along with third-year medical student Jennifer Nwokocha, presented teaching excellence awards to members of the medical staff selected by students for their expertise and passion for training the next generation of physicians.

“I take seriously your responsibility as the guardians of the sacred trust between this facility and the community,” Patten told the board Wednesday. “I want to take this opportunity to thank you for creating an environment where the next generation of health care providers can train to become great providers who will help sustain the mission of this hospital.”

The honorees were neonatologist Dr. Erwin Bassig, emergency medicine physician Dr. James Black, surgeon Dr. J Price Corr, internist Dr. Kathy Hudson, pallative care specialist Dr. Chirag Jani, internist Dr. Chinyelu “Chi Chi” Ofodile and critical care specialist Dr. Ramana Rao.

Dr. Bernardo Rebeil, an interventional radiologist at Phoebe, said his field is a new approach there even though he has focused on interventional radiology with a special competence in interventional oncology for the last 17 years.

He, alongside two other physicians — Drs. Lorenzo Carson and Cliff Church — are dedicated to the new pillar for cancer care treatment. It uses radiological image guidance to precisely target a therapy, in turn minimizing potential damage to other organs.

Rebeil said that in the recent past, Phoebe had to refer more than 460 patients out of Albany to receive interventional radiology and/or diagnositc care and work-up. Since August of last year, 34 patients have been serviced in Phoebe’s interventional radiology clinic.

“Technology has led to imaging getting better and better, allowing us to use imaging directly in the treatment of cancer,” he said. “Interventional radiology has become the fourth pillar of cancer treatment along with medical oncology, surgical oncology and radiation therapy oncology.

“We can have a significant impact on patients with cancer through these cutting-edge treatments.”

A new development at Phoebe, Rebeil said, is the contrast-enhanced ultrasound. He said it allows for real-time assessment of vascularity, safety for patients with renal or hepatic impairment, no exposure to ionizing radiation and avoidance of an invasive biopsy.

It is used for characterization of solid organ lesions, and is used for patients with renal failure or contrast allergies. The technology is also used in cases in which other scans yield no answers or conflicting results, no blood flow in a lesion, major abdominal trauma or ones involving abdominal aortic stented grafts, pediatric care, gynecological problems or inflammatory bowel disease.

Also at the board meeting, Phoebe Putney Health System President and CEO Scott Steiner announced an educational session on May 31 for the boards of all three hospitals — including Phoebe Worth Medical Center and Phoebe Sumter Medical Center — and medical staff leadership to review information about the health system’s decision to strive to become a high-reliability organization.

Steiner also announced that the health system will engage an expert consulting firm around strategy.

“Phoebe has done and continues to do incredible work in Albany and surrounding counties,” he said. “Our goal is to get all the strategy under one tent. It’s been a little bit since we’ve looked at all the community data to see what the people we serve really want and need. By early fall, we’ll have a playbook.”

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Staff Writer

I'm a 2007 graduate of Georgia Southern University, and I've been a reporter for The Albany Herald since 2008. I cover news related to health care, Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, SOWEGA Council on Aging and other areas as assigned.

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