PRESS RELEASE FROM PIEDMONT MOUNTAINSIDE
Jasper, Ga. (April 16, 2019) – From 1999 to 2010, opioid-related deaths in Georgia increased by 500 percent. In 2016, there were close to 1,000 deaths involving opioids in the state and those numbers are continuing to increase. Facing those statistics and knowing that all healthcare systems need to play a role in attempting to stem this epidemic, Piedmont Healthcare is examining its pain management policies and connecting its hospitals with stakeholders in the community in an effort to address this crisis.
National Drug Take Back Day, which is sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), is Saturday, April 27, and will feature activities between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Local law enforcement agencies will provide a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs. The majority of teenagers abusing prescription drugs get them from the home medicine cabinet. Using pharmaceutical drugs without a prescription or a doctor’s supervision can lead to accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse.
“One of the most important things we can do as individuals, especially as we try to protect our families and children, is to dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired prescription drugs,” said Piedmont Mountainside CEO Denise Ray. “That’s why we’re supporting the efforts of our local public safety departments and letting our employees know about National Drug Take Back Day and what they can do on a personal level.”
In 2018, Take Back Day brought in more than 900,000 pounds of unused or expired prescription medication. Disposing of those drugs safely keeps them off the streets and protects the environment as well. On its website for Take Back Day, the DEA has a collection site locator that allows individuals to find the closest take back sites to where they live: https://takebackday.dea.gov/.
Throughout its 11 hospitals, Piedmont will be coordinating with various local law enforcement and public health agencies on Take Back Day.
From a system level, Piedmont, the largest healthcare provider in Georgia, convened an Opioids Task Force in 2018 and is seeking to provide patients with optimal pain management while preventing the potential for opioid abuse. One of the key tenets to Piedmont’s plan is to increase education and awareness among both patients and staff. There are times when the use of opioids is appropriate and necessary, but Piedmont’s new protocols, created by its physician leaders in consultation with clinical staff, will consider non-opioids and alternate pain management modalities such as topical therapy, local injections, massage, physical therapy and more. Piedmont will also focus on establishing system-wide standardization and coordination of prescribing protocols in key risk areas.
“It is important to reduce the stigma around opioid addiction,” said Ray. “Unfortunately this is a sweeping epidemic, one that is effecting people across the country, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. No one person, organization, city or state can tackle it alone, but Piedmont Mountainside is proud to join our sister hospitals and play a role alongside our patients and partners in the community.”
Learn more about Piedmont at piedmont.org
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County is still amid disorder this week as Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris confirmed with FYN that the current Gilmer County Interim Fire Chief, Brian Scudder, has left the office.
“We just weren’t on the same page about some things,” said Paris on Thursday as he reiterated the changes he is hoping to see come in the Fire Department of Gilmer County. Scudder is still in the Fire Department but is no longer serving as Interim Chief.
These changes began when former Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett resigned from office in early February. Though originally resigning effective on March 15, Paris said he later had decided that Pritchett’s presence was not coordinating with his plans for the future and made an agreement with Pritchett to pay his original agreement out to March 15, but to remove Pritchett from the county immediately.
Chairman Paris originally wanted to separate the position into three positions including Fire Chief, EMA Director, and Public Safety Director. In Paris’ eyes, the Public Safety Director would have been the Department’s head with managerial responsibilities with EMA Director and Fire Chief serving under him in their areas of expertise with the requirements, technicalities, and skills required in those positions.
However, he settled for two positions instead of three and named Brian Scudder to Interim Fire Chief and Keith Kucera to the Interim Public Safety/EMA Director.
However, in the progressing weeks, conflict and turmoil have arisen in the Fire Department resulting in two internal investigations and several changes in the systems make-up.
Paris states he has had enough with the way things have been in the Fire Department. “There is s a significant amount of turmoil in the Fire Department right now,” says Paris.
Soon after naming the two to the position, an incident at Fire Station 1 occurred with one firefighter finding his bed saturated in water. An investigation ensued immediately into the occurrence. Paris openly admitted that while they did not discover exactly who was behind the act, he felt he did send a message to the department about the changes he wants.
However, the Fire Department’s other investigation went much further as Paris states that on a Friday morning he offered Scudder the position of Fire Chief, Kucera was out of town, so Paris waited until Monday morning to offer the Public Safety Director Position. Paris states that at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, he held a meeting with Tony Pritchett to share his appointments with him.
Then, Tuesday morning, Paris received a complaint about Kucera trying to get people to protest the appointment of Scudder to Fire Chief. After meeting with Kucera and interrogating him on the allegations, Paris called in several firefighters that were set to protest the Fire Chief position. Questioning each individually about how and when they found out about Brian Scudder’s appointment which had not been announced yet. The overwhelming response indicated that all but one had learned about the appointments early Monday morning from Tony Pritchett, having found out about the appointments prior to his meeting with Charlie.
Paris tells FYN that the investigation cleared Kucera of any allegations of protest or antagonism in Department. He continued saying that most of the response he has had is positive about Kucera’s appointment.
Moving past the investigations, Paris says he is confident moving forward with his appointment of Keith Kucera to interim Public Safety Director and his new appointment he is announcing of Mike Dempsey to Interim Fire Chief.
At this point, there is still no indication as to who or what is causing instigations in the Fire and EMS, but Paris seemed to indicate that he doesn’t care. He says he is focused on moving forward and buckling down on the departments’ disciplinary actions.
Naming Mike Dempsey as the new interim Fire Chief, Paris says that he has gone about the appointment slightly different as this time, he has taken recommendations from Kucera and references to consider. Part of the consideration Paris had for Dempsey in the interim position is that Dempsey has no consideration or desire for the permanent position.
Jasper, Ga – Authorities have met a major incident as they executed a search warrant at the local A1 Smoke Shop in Jasper, Georgia.
During the execution of the search warrant today, September 14, members of the Drug Task Force, Pickens Sheriff’s Office, and Jasper City Police were exposed to an unidentified substance that immediately brought down one detective. Others also became exposed in attempts to help treat the detective. According to an official release by Sgt. Jody Weaver, Administrative Services Division of the Pickens Sheriff’s Office, “As of this release, two Detectives, a DTF Agent and two EMS personnel are being treated now for symptoms.”
Unconfirmed reports indicate the substance may have been made airborne during the search, but reports at this time indicate the exposure is not life-threatening.
According to their official release, “The Cherokee County Hazardous Materials Team has dispatched to the scene to assist, along with all surrounding public safety agencies including the Pickens Fire & EMS and City of Jasper Fire.”
Additionally, authorities have closed businesses in close proximity to the location and evacuated citizens from the area for safety.
With Haz-Mat teams investigating the substances, authorities are declining to release certain details of the active investigation, but indicate that they will be releasing more information about the incident later.
With the recent rise of vaping devices being used to inhale drugs ranging from Methamphetamines to THC Oil to Synthetic Marijuana, it is likely this warrant could be part of an official response to the trend in our schools, though no official statement identifies why they were executing a search warrant. The District Attorney’s office is currently undertaking a series of assemblies at the middle and high schools of Pickens, Fannin, and Gilmer.
At this point, it is actually quite common to find controlled substances in vape devices across America, especially in schools as reports continue to flood the media about students falling unconscious or having severe reactions, even seizures because of what they may or may not know they are inhaling.
See the full media release below:
“Pickens County law enforcement have encountered a suspected unknown powder substance during execution of a search warrant – Deputies and other public safety adversely affected.”
On the morning of Friday, September 14, 2018, the Drug Task Force, along with the Pickens Sheriff’s Office and the City of Jasper Police Department executed a search warrant at the A-1 Smoke Shop located at 684 West Church Street in Jasper, Georgia. During the search of the premises, a Detective with the Pickens Sheriff’s Office came in contact with an unknown substance which immediately resulted in the Detective experiencing adverse health conditions and symptoms. The affected Detective was transported to the local hospital for immediate treatment. Public safety personnel who were exposed while treating the affected Detective also began experiencing similar reactions. As of this release, two Detectives, a DTF Agent and two EMS personnel are being treated now for symptoms.
The Cherokee County Hazardous Materials Team has dispatched to the scene to assist, along with all surrounding public safety agencies including the Pickens Fire & EMS and City of Jasper Fire. Businesses in close proximity to the location have been evacuated as a safety precaution, and Haz-Mat teams are preparing to enter the premises to thoroughly investigate and identify the cause of the health issues with our public safety personnel.
As this is an active investigation, more information will be provided as it becomes available.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – While local citizens continue discussion of Monday’s incident involving a bus overturning on Yukon Road, the discussion has spread to the state capital as Georgia Speaker of the House of Representatives David Ralston released an official comment today.
“I’m so thankful no one was hurt in this week’s school bus accident. While the road the accident occurred on is maintained by the county government, I’m willing to discuss state involvement in addressing any safety concerns with the road if the county feels that state involvement would be helpful. I’m just glad that there was an emergency medical facility in the county which could treat the children who were injured. The last time a serious bus accident occurred in Gilmer County, that wasn’t the case.”
As some have addressed concerns over the area of Yukon road where the accident occured, FetchYourNews has learned that county officials have been looking into the road this week since the wreck. While no official statement on their progress is available at this time, this comment from Ralston could open discussion for possibilities in the future.
Group Photo at North Georgia Physical Therapy are (Back Row L – R)
Magnolia McLaughlin, Annabelle Nestor, Aaliyah Adame, Samantha Hernandez, Kim Cruz, Lexi Newberry. Front row: Katie Kiker, Michaela Staley & Adilene Rangel.
Students interested in healthcare occupations are participating in medical internships. These experiences can be short term or long term, as brief as a week or as long as a semester. Eleventh & twelfth grade students enrolled in the Work-Based Learning Program are spending a portion of the school day with healthcare professionals. This experience provides opportunities for instruction in occupational skills, exploration of the many and varied healthcare jobs and career guidance from professionals.
Students are shadowing and interacting with medical professionals in the many areas of patient care; CNA, Radiology Technicians, LPN, RN, Physical Therapists, PTT, PTA, DON, Administrative Personnel, Nurse Practitioner, Physician’s Assistant, Family Practitioners, Specialists and Dentists.
This project takes the cooperation of many medical facilities. Those providing opportunities this semester are Georgia Mountain’s Health, Gilmer County Department of Public Health, Cameron Hall, North Georgia Physical Therapy, Gilmer Nursing Home, Piedmont Healthcare (Emergency Department, Imaging Diagnostic Center & Physicians Group), Safe Choice Pregnancy Center and Ellijay Urgent Care & Family Practice (Dr. Nguyen). Countless staff members at each of these facilities are making this an awesome experience for our GHS students.
Pre-requisites to participate in the medical rotation are TB testing, CPR certification, knowledge of HIPPA. AIDET training and related science and healthcare classes. The Healthcare Science pathway provides these and other skills to enhance this experience.
Students above with Dr. Nguyen of Ellijay Urgent Care & Family Practice. L-R: Magnolia McLaughlin, Aaliyah Adame, Samantha Hernandez, Katie Kiker, Adilene Rangel, Nurse Michelle, Jessie Wilson, Annabelle Nestor & Dr. Nguyen.
At Piedmont Healthcare Imaging & Diagnostic Center
Domingo Reynoso, Mariano Morin, Chloe Reece, Sophie Morrison & Mary Ghorley Risk Management Director of Piedmont
Gilmer Health Dept. Director Krystal Sumner.
Debriefing by Karen Driskill at Georgia Mountain’s Health.
Mariano Morin, Chloe Reece, Sophie Morrison and Domingo Reynoso.
**Application to the WBL internship program for the 2018-2019 school year will open in late February. See adviser, counselor or Ms. J. Davis for details as this is the only time of year to enter into the program. Rising juniors & seniors are eligible.**
I have a friend in need of a kidney. Sharon and her husband Art are too proud to ask for help, even though they are the first on the scene when others are in need.
If a person or pet is down on their luck Sharon and Art are there without fanfare or even being asked.
Sharon and Art have dedicated their whole lives to the service of others.
Sharon is a retired Physician’s Assistant and co-president of a local animal rescue group (Friends of Gilmer Animal Shelter).
Art served in the US Navy with honor for 24 yrs. Part of his service was during the Vietnam War. After retiring from the Navy Art worked 20 yrs. as an addiction therapist for the Navy. Art continues to offer his skills and experience to those in need.
Whether it’s hungry people, homeless pets, or ensuring that underprivileged children have a Christmas, Sharon has always been there to answer the call.
Sharon and Art frequently open their home and hearts to the sickest and oldest homeless cats and dogs. These animals, without a hope, are vetted and rehabilitated totally at Sharon and Art’s expense. Then the animals are re-homed or become permanent family members.
Sharon and Art have given their heart and soul to both their country and their community. Now Sharon needs our help.
Sharon needs a, O+ blood type, kidney donor.
All expenses will be covered for the donor, including lost wages. Call 810-623-2214 to inquire further.
Piedmont has recently made a press release announcing their April 3 opening date.
After numerous delays and obstacles Piedmont is ready to open its doors for Gilmer County care. Along with their announcement, Piedmont offered the following release.
Piedmont Mountainside Hospital today announced the opening of Georgia’s first freestanding emergency room. The ER opens on April 3 in a space previously occupied by North Georgia Medical Center, which closed in June 2016 due to financial hardships.
“It is imperative patients have access to emergency care, especially for life-threatening conditions like heart attack or stroke where every minute matters,” Denise Ray, CEO of Piedmont Mountainside, said. “That’s why this agreement is so important for the community. With the nearest hospital 20-30 minutes away, the health and well-being of many depend on it.”
The freestanding ER, publicly known as Piedmont Mountainside Emergency Services at Ellijay, will house emergent medical equipment, including a 64 Slice-CT scanner, X-ray, and pharmacy and laboratory equipment. Piedmont Mountainside has hired an additional 35 employees to support the location, including nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists, and radiology and lab technicians.
“Without a nearby hospital, Gilmer County residents were left completely without immediate medical care,” added Ray. “As a community-focused hospital, Piedmont Mountainside recognized their immediate need and acted. We are proud to expand our services in Gilmer County and will strive to deliver the same level of patient-centered care expected of the Piedmont name.”
Freestanding emergency departments operate as an extension of an ER in a hospital, providing 24-hour access to emergency physicians, nurses, labs and radiology technicians. They offer similar services as emergency rooms attached to the hospital, like moderate-complexity blood testing and advanced imaging, and they care for most emergent illnesses (heart attack, stroke and minor trauma).
Patients requiring admission or transfer will follow the same process as they would if they were entering Piedmont Mountainside Hospital’s emergency room in Jasper. For more information, visit piedmont.org.
As we wrap up this series delving into the Piedmont’s Stand-Alone Emergency Department (ED), we look to whats to come for the facility.
In the 2016 fiscal year, Piedmont Mountainside, in Jasper, saw 27% of its total patient population come from Gilmer County. Currently they estimate 32% of the ED visits or approximately 25 patients per day come from Gilmer County. As Gilmer’s need for care is continuing and increasing, many citizens are not only looking for the new ED to open, but also want to know how Piedmont plans to grow into the future for Gilmer County.
During their ribbon cutting ceremony, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston mentioned the possibility of two additional rooms in the Emergency Department for “Acute Care.”
Acute Care, according to Denise Ray, CEO, Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, means “immediate but short-term treatment for injury, illness or urgent medical condition.” As the ED begins caring for Gilmer Citizens, they are considering the beds as options to increase quality through extended care for issues like dehydration, congestive heart failure (CHF), or exacerbation of chronic conditions. Where as these conditions would usually require transferring a patient to a hospital, Acute Care Rooms would keep them local as they are treated and released.
While Ray did say staffing would be very similar to the ED, they would require additional space in the old hospital. She did say they are currently looking at possible spaces, but did not offer a specific timeline on when Gilmer may look for this addition saying, “We are currently focused on opening the freestanding ED and concentrating on servicing the community to that capacity.”
As a part of opening the freestanding ED, Piedmont will become very close neighbors to the Gilmer County Nursing Home, a relationship that Gilmer citizens have enjoyed as emergency care for these residents is simply a wheelchair ride away instead of an Ambulance ride. Should a Nursing Home Resident require care, the staff would call ahead to notify the ER and utilize either a wheelchair or stretcher to transport the patient.
Hoping to build on the relationship, Ray told FYN having the nursing home on the back side of the facility would not change or affect the ED as it is well prepared for any emergency or condition that enters their facility, be it from the Nursing Home, any of Gilmer’s increased population over 65, or any other issue or emergent condition the County would bring in.
Additionally, Ray commented on Piedmont’s continuing programs for people age 60+ that will be held in Gilmer and Pickens Counties including Home Health visits, participation in local Alzheimer’s Association support group providing education on dementia, and education on Advance Directive’s to local Senior Centers in Jasper and Ellijay.
As Piedmont continues down its path for the Stand-Alone Emergency Department, citizens are waiting to see promises filled and care returned to the county. Plans and hopes for the future will all become possible as soon as the final inspections and paperwork are completed and Piedmont officially opens their new facility in Gilmer County.