Lieutenants offer details on National Guard visit to Parkside

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Soldiers and Reservists from the National Guard met in Ellijay today as part of a running program from the state to help clean, sanitize, and train staff at Parkside Ellijay.

Parkside Ellijay Skille Nursing Care is one of the facilities being cleaned and sanitized by Georgia’s stations of the National Guard.

The facility is only one of many that Lieutenant Jacob Mizell of Bravo Company said his team has and will visit during the Coronavirus outbreak. Receiving the call only last week, these reservists were in action in a day.

Today, they went into Parkside Ellijay spraying down, disinfecting, and sanitizing hallways, railings, counters, and other high touch areas. But they also visited each of the 100 rooms to disinfect areas of the residents’ rooms as well. Lt. Mizell said they were working with the owner of Parkside to accomplish whatever the need dictates.

Lt. Mizell said, “Their staff can’t really stay at home in isolation because these facilities need their staff here to make sure that their residents get medication and food and any sort of care that they need. So, we’re doing our part to help the state, to help the community, and to help the citizens of Georgia.”

Lt. Nathan Ballew, left, and Lt. Jacob Mizell, right, of the National Guard, prepare for cleaning and sanitization of the Parkside Ellijay facility on April 7, 2020.

Lieutenant Nathan Ballew said the operations is a little bit of both cleaning and education at the facility. The guard is doing the actual cleaning, but they are also educating the staff on procedures, cleaning, decontamination suits, and mask usage. A process that owner Michael Feist says is more than welcome as the facility wants to take all the help for its residents as possible.

The teams come through the facility with minimal impact on residents but slight impact to staff, who may have to avoid certain areas or hallways for several minutes during the process.

Depending on the facility size, the process could take two to three hours, and this team that came to Ellijay is based in Canton, reaching out and visiting facilities in a radius around their station. They hit two facilities each day, but currently have no plans or orders to return to facilities after completion.

The National Guard is working with local facilities like Parkside Ellijay and with Public Safety agencies to clean and support community efforts during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Lt. Mizell said his unit has already visited eight facilities in their current tour. But their unit has two teams operating from Canton. Each team has 15 total soldiers.

Lt. Ballew said they are just a small part of the National Guard that is mobilized right now.

Lt. Ballew went on to add that he has personally been a part of responses for hurricanes and other disasters, but “It’s very similar because it’s just maintaining that flexibility to do whatever the state needs for us to help. That’s one of the most important parts of maintaining a National Guard.”

“We’re proud to admit that we have no cases. Nobody has tested positive and nobody is showing symptoms in the entire building. Nor have they shown since the beginning of this epidemic.” says Feist.

Lt. Nathan Ballew, left, and Lt. Jacob Mizell, right, of the National Guard, speak with members of the press about their presence in Ellijay and their orders to help in the facility.

More than just the National Guard’s efforts, Parkside has made major changes in recent months including an outside chair and window visits for family as no visitors are allowed inside the building. Though they have cancelled some events, social interactions are still continuing through events like hallway long bingo nights and turn-based visits to the courtyard and bird feeders.

Parkside has halted renovations since the beginning of the epidemic and has even worked alongside public safety for potential plans for unused medical space should a need arise. They also maintain a rolling updated training regimen for staff on infection control and just completed a new update in recent months before the outbreak. Education and training are also continuing with the Guard during today’s visit as time permits.

The mission isn’t just to sanitize and clean, but to educate, according to the two Lieutenants who reiterated that they wanted citizens to know that the process is about “flattening the curve.” A phrase many have heard in the media. Providing a service is what guardsmen sign up for as Lt. Ballew and Lt. Mizell said they are here to help.

What to do if you show signs of infection from COVID-19

Health, News
infection, National Guard

GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – Gilmer’s new Public Safety Coalition has offered information for citizens to be informed and not worry even if they do show signs of infection that have been noted for the Coronavirus.

Offering a statement yesterday, the Coalition said that any who develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 infection should get medical attention immediately. Those Emergency warning signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse from sleep
  • Bluish lips or face

However, as FYN followed up on how to seek medical attention without further spreading, the Coaliton offered a Center for Disease Control (CDC) document explaining more in-depth about actions to be taken if you are or think you have the infection.


The CDC document for What to do if you are sick with COVID-19.

That document, pictured to the right, draws specific attention that Gilmer’s Coalition also wanted to point out.

Keith Kucera, Director of Gilmer County Public Safety, said, “One particular thing the document speaks to is calling ahead to your Primary Care Manager (Doctor).  During this call, most offices will ask a series of screening questions specific to your sickness.  At that point they will make further recommendations for treatment and/or possible testing.”

Much of the community has already heard about or seen others wearing face masks, even if they aren’t infected. The CDC recommends such for those who believe they are infected along with a high focus on isolation and extreme sanitization of self, surfaces, and items.

Check out more information on the CDC’s COVID-19 Page.

515 Northbound shut down at First Avenue


EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Authorities from Gilmer County Public Safety, East Ellijay Police, and Ellijay Fire are currently responding to what witnesses are calling a major accident at the intersection of First Avenue and Highwy 515 near Hardee’s.

Authorities have shut down the Northbound lane of Hwy 515 at this time as they assist with those involved and attempt to clear the road.

East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan has confirmed one person is in critical condition. There are also at least two others classified as injured, but are well enough to be walking.5

Citizens should use Highway 52 to travel past the accident before returning to Highway 515 Northbound via Greenfield Road. FYN has reached out to authorities for comment on the clean-up and condition of the accident and is awaiting a response as they continue to respond to the incident.

Keeping the Promise reaches $5,000 in fundraiser

Keeping the Promise

Keeping the PromiseEAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Heartlite Hospice Care finished September finalizing the numbers for their Keeping the Promise fundraiser from earlier in the month.

Attendees met for a silent auction and wine tasting at Ott Farms and Vineyards on September 6, 2019. Throughout the event, volunteers from Heartlite Hospice hosted guests at the vineyard with live music and food from both Ott Farms and Off Road Grill & Treats as they viewed and bid on items up for auction.

Volunteer Coordinator for Heartlite Hospice Care, Mara Roberts

Donations came in from families as well as local businesses offering items such as weighted blankets, basket of goods, wine, Yeti Tumblers, jewelry, art, and event tickets.

Volunteer Coordinator for Heartlite Hospice Care, Mara Roberts, said the event raised $5,693 over the events costs.

Roberts said, “We at Heartlite not only look after our patients medically, we try to care for the whole family. We offer support to the family through our volunteer programs, grief groups, caregiver support groups and also financially. We have paid utility bills, mortgage payments, auto and home repairs as well as final expenses and our favorite, final wishes.”

Though held at different locations each time, the annual Keeping the Promise event is held in September to benefit the organization with funding for the multiple ways they support those in hospice care.

Piedmont Hospitals Support National Drug Take Back Day

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:

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

Replacement doesn’t mean resolution in Fire Department


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.

Former Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett

Former Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett

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.

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris

Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris

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.

Substance at vape shop hospitalizes five

Photos courtesy of the Pickens County Sheriff's Office

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.”

Photos courtesy of the Pickens County Sheriff's Office

Photos courtesy of the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office

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.

Ralston speaks on Yukon bus crash


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.

GHS Students Participate in Medical Internships

Bobcat's Corner

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.**

Requesting Help for One Who Serves

Letters to Editor

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 Announces ER Opening Day


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

Looking to the Future with Piedmont’s ER


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.”

Denise RayAcute 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.

Gilmer Fire & Rescue Awarded for Trauma Care Excellence

Community, News

Many citizens may still have images fresh in their minds from a horrible accident last October in which a tour bus carrying 53 people collided with an 18-wheeler semi-truck.

Usually, October is a festive time for Gilmer as we host visitors to our county at the apple orchards and at our fairgrounds for the Apple Festival. However, 2016 held a black mark as this tragic accident claimed one life and injured over 40 more. Many recall being rerouted to side rides and detours to avoid the accident.

What not many may remember, is seeing the teams of people scouring the accident in quick action to recover, stabilize, and care for the people involved. Not many people were able to see the organization and action of Gilmer County’s Fire and Rescue workers who responded or the cooperation they held with several other agencies who aided their efforts.

On March 16, 2017, the Northwest Georgia Region 1 EMS decided that what people should remember from the day is exactly what they did not see. They did this as they awarded Gilmer County Fire and Rescue the Richard Gray MD Excellence in Trauma Care Award.

According to Gilmer County Department of Public Safety’s Deputy Director Scott Stephens, the award is to “provide recognition and appreciation to any pre-hospital provider within Northwest Georgia’s Emergency Medical Services/Region 1 system for reducing the morbidity or mortality via outstanding delivery of care to a critically injured patient(s). Named in honor of Dr Richard Gray, the recipient should exhibit excellence in the delivery of care to the trauma patient and / or effected utilization of the Region 1 trauma care system plan.”

With the wreck occurring on Highway 515 between Ellijay and Jasper, Battalion Chief Freeman and Deputy Director Scott Stephens became the first on scene. As emergency crews arrived, triage was established, quickly identifying four people as critically injured.

While these situations are trained for, it was the swiftness and efficiency of the implementation that won Gilmer County Fire and Rescue this award. As a part of the process, written documentation of the event must be submitted for review. One piece of Gilmer’s Submission summed up the days events by saying,

This day would prove to be a day to show how multiple agencies would work together in establishing command, utilization of resources, triage, and patient care of 43 trauma patients to have a successful outcome to a horrible event that most responders will never experience in a 25-year career. The leadership and patient care in a trauma / mci of this magnitude, in the removal, treatment, and transport of 43 patients in 1 hour and 24 minutes from the time the first unit went on scene while maintaining the patient care Region 1 Ems strives to maintain, utilizing 7 other EMS agencies, over 75 personnel, Multiple Area Law Enforcement agencies and every victim that was alive the day they arrived on scene and walked out of the multiple emergency facilities is worthy of the Richard Gray MD Excellence in Trauma Care Award.

While one hopes these men and women serving the county may often hear praise and thanks for their service, it is always a great honor to be able to take that one step further by recognizing those men and women publicly. It is a pride of the county as they took an awful tragedy, and saved lives through their resolve in the face of the accident, through their training for that day, and in their swiftness to carry out their duties.

Stephens went on to say that, “The guidelines would only allow for up to three people be submitted for the award,  but truth is the award went to the whole department that participated in the events that day.”

Behind the Doors at Piedmont’s Emergency Department


With Piedmont’s recent ribbon cutting ceremony, FYN delved behind the scenes to take a closer look at some of Piedmont’s equipment and changes to the facilities as they move closer to opening their doors to the public.

ParisDuring their Ribbon Cutting, Piedmont was welcomed into Gilmer County by Commission Chairman Charlie Paris stating, “We’re very thankful to have an ER coming into Gilmer County. In addition to health care considerations, there are a lot of cost savings that will apply…”

One of the biggest upgrades that Piedmont Mountainside CEO, Denise Ray mentioned during the ceremony was a 64-slice CT Scanner with a Double Injector function. This device replaces an CT Scanolder 16-slice scanner allowing for far better detail in the scans. The Double Injector is used during things like PE (Pulmonary Embolism) Studies. Nestor walked us through the aid this provides as the contrast dye is injected into patients needs to be immediately flushed.

The double injector allows the flush without requiring technicians to re-enter the room and provide the flush themselves. The upgrade from 16 to 64-slice also improves speed of the scan translating to patients as less time on the table.

XRayPiedmont is also currently using a portable X-Ray machine in addition to its normal machine. This device can be moved into a patient’s ER room to take an x-ray and utilize that mobility to expedite care to its emergency patients. While Ike Ichite, Director of Imaging, stated the portable x-ray aids greatly in emergency care situations, he is still looking forward to a digital upgrade expected to come early next year. The digital upgrade would allow Doctor’s to quickly view the x-ray results bypassing to time to process the shots in radiology and being instantly accessed on screen of the machine.

The full digital images would also greatly increase image quality according to Jennifer Nestor. Having images of high quality instantly available will even further help doctors immediately respond to issues they find through the x-rays.

Also utilized at the local Emergency Department (ED) is the Ultrasound study. Usually utilized in blood studies such as DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), blood clot, or gall bladder issues. This device rounds out the “big three” devices used in Piedmont’s ED.

As the new Emergency Department draws closer to opening its doors, greater attention is drawn daily as Ray even commented an expectation that all of Georgia will be focusing on Gilmer County to see if free-standing ER’s could be a solution to Georgia’s rural hospital problems.

RalstonState Speaker David Ralston, in attendance at the Ribbon Cutting, spoke on that subject saying, “The whole issue of Healthcare, particularly in rural Georgia, is very challenging. Over the last three or four years, we’ve had about fifteen or sixteen rural hospitals close in Georgia.”

Ralston jokingly continued saying, “I’ve been able to brag over the last month or two that I’ve got the only one that re-opened.”

However, that was not the only message Speaker Ralston brought to Gilmer County. Thanking the local community for their support in the transition and renovations to the ED, he said, “This whole fear of the clock, the Certificate of Need and the license that was going to expire, is over. It is over, that clock has been turned off.”

The central focus of that fear has been maintaining healthcare in Gilmer County indefinitely.

Piedmont is reinforcing its ED health care with additional support throughout Gilmer County through Medical Offices, local Doctors, as well as an imaging center and local lab, for blood draws and other outpatient studies, located in the Piedmont offices behind Wal-Mart.

These supporting offices will be connected to the ED through Piedmont’s Epic System. This integrated records network will allow for all admissions and care at the Emergency Room to be instantly accessible by Piedmont’s local Doctors as well as vice versa for Emergency Care Physicians to have instant access to the records of Piedmont Doctor’s patients for pertinent information such as drug allergies.

However, Piedmont did say that other Doctors will be able to tie into the Epic System as well. While Emergency Departments can access a Doctor’s Patient files through requests, the Epic System will provide instantaneous access to those reports and files providing an expedited process.

GoochThis Epic System will effectively connect the Piedmont “Community of Healthcare” that seems to have been growing in Gilmer County over the last year. State Senator Steve Gooch stressed the importance of healthcare and its growth in community when he said, “It is very important, not only for our health care, but for our economic development, our communities, and our children… We’re grateful to Piedmont for all their investments, millions of dollars that they’ve spent here in Gilmer County.”

Piedmont is also planning to continue their training and classes they offer through Piedmont Mountainside and are expecting to grow this effort through its growth into Gilmer County. Stay with FYN as we continue our series on Piedmont Healthcare and look deeper at some of their plans for Community Growth through classes, internships, training, participation with local entities, and even their hope for the future in the possibility of two acute-care rooms in the Emergency Department.

Tea Party of Gilmer County announces meeting to discuss Hospital & ER services



Medical Marijuana Pt.2 7/15/16


Part Two of the GMFTO series on Medical Marijuana, Cannabis Oil, and the effects for health treatment in our nation.

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