Behind every successful surgery, there's a life - and a story.
Everyday, East Georgia Regional Medical Center is helping Statesboro families get back to the life they love. Here you’ll find their stories.
Like so many breast cancer stories, Kim Futch’s begins with finding a lump. She felt it in June, and had it checked out. By January it had grown and by February she was having breast cancer surgery. She was referred to Dr. Jean-Claude Schwartz and felt immediately comfortable in his care. Dr. Marc Bisseck became her plastic surgeon and Dr. Harsh Bhushan, her oncologist.
“The three doctors communicate well,” she said, which made the whole process easier on her and her family.
“The doctors know who I am. They know me,” she said. “I ran into Dr. Schwartz in the cafeteria and he recognized me. That might not happen at bigger hospitals.”
Kim was grateful to be able to have surgery and chemotherapy locally.
“I was sick the first three months. I couldn’t have made it driving out of town,” she said.
She completed chemo last month. Already, her hair is growing back and she’s trying to figure out what to do with all the scarves and hats she bought during treatment.
“Part of me is still in shock,” she admits, and she’s trying to be strong to get through it all. Kim was just 34 when she was diagnosed. She’s turned 35 since then. She and her husband have a 7-year-old son to raise, and she counts on her strong faith to get her through. That, and the personalized care she received at East Georgia Regional Medical Center.
Genelda Reese was holding a ticket for a long awaited European river cruise, and she wasn’t about to let anything—including breast cancer—keep her from that departure. Although she worked in the healthcare industry, she hadn’t gotten regular mammograms. So, when the hospital was installing new digital mammography technology, she volunteered to help test the new equipment.
That’s when they discovered a lump. Dr. Jean-Claude Schwartz recommended chemo first, then surgery. The chemo did an even better job than he had expected. Thanks to East Georgia Regional Medical Center, Genelda was able to get quality care and treatment right here at home.
“I was totally satisfied, and so thankful that Dr. Schwartz had decided to settle in Statesboro,” she said. “I liked him and the concern he had for me. He took extra time to clarify things.”
When the first wisps of hair fell out, Genelda went to her hairdresser and told her to buzz all her hair off. During treatment, she remodeled her home. She was already eating well — Genelda was the director of nutritional services at East Georgia Regional Medical Center for more than 44 years. At a recent family reunion, she realized that four of her 25 guests were breast cancer survivors. During the event, she handed down her wig to her cousin, who had just started treatment. Today, she’s retired. She’s taken another cruise—this time to Russia. She’s very grateful for Dr. Schwartz and everyone at East Georgia Regional Medical Center.
“I had everything I needed right here,” she said.
Throughout his retirement, Tom Ritchie of Metter exercised on a regular basis and managed to maintain a sensible diet, allowing him to lose 20 pounds along the way. Even though he seemed like the picture of health, Tom didn't know that his life would take a dramatic turn for the worse. One afternoon, while working on the roof of his barn, Tom broke out in a sweat that soaked him from head to toe. All alone and having a difficult time breathing, Tom was able to call 911. He remembered that his mother-in-law had mentioned a new doctor coming to East Georgia Regional Medical Center, so he asked EMS to take him to Statesboro.
Upon arrival at East Georgia Regional Medical Center, Tom was met by Dr. Christopher Leggett, the hospital's new interventional cardiologist. Results from Tom’s exam showed a 99.9 percent blockage in an artery known as “the widow maker”. Dr. Leggett immediately transferred Tom to the hospital's advanced cath lab, where Dr. Leggett inserted a stent and opened Tom’s blocked artery.
Without access to an interventional cardiologist like Dr. Leggett and a hospital like East Georgia Regional Medical Center, Tom would have been taken to a facility some 50 miles away - a long time to wait in such an emergency. Today, Tom Ritchie is back to leading a healthy and active life, has finished the roof on his barn, and realizes that heart disease can happen to anyone.
She’d taken her blood pressure medication. The stress at work was at its usual peak level. But Marisa Smith knew something was different. As Information Services director at East Georgia Regional Medical Center, she was close to quality care and admitted as a patient. When her pain didn’t subside, Dr. Ajay Jain took her to the cath lab, where interventional cardiologist Dr. Christopher Leggett was finishing an unscheduled case. And thank goodness. She had two blockages and had they gone untreated, they would have resulted in a heart attack.
“I’m just so glad I was here to take care of you,” Dr. Leggett told her. Marisa doesn’t smoke and exercises daily, but both of her parents died from heart ailments.
“I have to take even better care of myself,” she said. “Doctors can mend, but it’s up to me to do the rest.”
Norman Riggs didn’t exactly feel bad, but his brothers were having medical difficulties. And he thought, “If it could happen to them, it could happen to me.”
His primary care physician discovered high blood pressure, and referred him to a cardiologist. Dr. Stanley Shin monitored Norman, and sent him to an interventional cardiologist.
“I’m glad you came to me,” said Dr. Christopher Leggett, who found four blockages, including one in “the widow maker” artery. Within days, Norman had two stents on the left side and two on the right, in a procedure he calls “a piece of cake.” A week later, Norman was back on the golf course.
“Now, instead of 69, I feel like I’m 49, or 39,” he said. His golf game hasn’t improved, but he’s fit enough to walk the course instead of using a golf cart.
“The tag team saved my life,” he said. “Dr. Leggett is a diamond in the rough.”