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Cold season’s coming. How to tell if your child has a cold or something more.


School’s been in session for a few weeks and the germs are already turning up. Thanks to WellStar for this information on pediatric colds: 

The pediatric cold is a viral infection of your child’s upper respiratory tract — his or her nose and throat. It can be caused by one of more than 200 viruses, and spread from child to child through sneezing, nose-blowing and nose- wiping.

The single most important way to keep a cold from spreading is to wash your hands and your child’s hands often.

Although a common cold is a simple condition, you should call your pediatrician if:

  • Your child’s symptoms get worse or you suspect something other than a cold.
  • Your child has asthma. Colds are the most common trigger of asthma symptoms.
  • Your child is younger than three months of age and has a fever above 100.4°F (38°C) when taken rectally.
  • Your child’s nostrils are widening with each breath, the skin above or below the ribs sucks in with each breath or your child is breathing rapidly or having any difficulty breathing.
  • Your child’s lips or nails turn blue.
  • Your child has an earache.
  • Your child is excessively sleepy or cranky.


The most frequent symptoms of a cold are:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Fever

Once your child catches a cold, symptoms usually begin in two or three days. Typically, an irritated nose or scratchy throat is the first sign, followed within hours by sneezing and a watery nasal discharge. Within one to three days, the nasal secretions usually become thicker and perhaps yellow or green. This is a normal part of the common cold and not a reason for antibiotics.

Depending on which virus your child has, other symptoms might include:

  • Cough
  • Decreased appetite
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Postnasal drip
  • Sore throat

A cold is usually over in a week, with perhaps a few lingering symptoms, such as cough, for another week.

(Source: WellStar) 


Flu Season is Here: WellStar offers Flu Shots


Flu season is on its way. The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Sign up to receive your flu shot today! Call 770-956-STAR (7827). 

Who should be vaccinated again the flu? 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone older than six months is recommended for flu vaccination with rare exception. Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have any questions regarding which flu vaccine options are best for your family. 

Why should people get vaccinated against the flu? 
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and possibly death. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. 

When should I get a flu vaccination? 
The CDC recommends that people get their seasonal flu vaccine as soon as the vaccine becomes available in their community. Vaccination before December is best to ensure protective antibodies are established before flu activity is at its highest in January or February. 

Will the flu shot give me the flu? 
The flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. The viruses in the vaccine are dead, which means they cannot cause infection. However, those allergic to eggs, latex or have had a severe reaction to the vaccine in the past should consult their primary care physician for vaccination. 

WellStar Corporate & Community Health will be hosting convenient flu vaccination clinics for adults age 18 and above at the following WellScreen event:

East Cobb YMCA 
1055 East Piedmont Road, Marietta, GA 30062 
Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014
7:30-10 a.m. 


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WellStar Women’s Heart Program

Cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death in the United States. Despite advances in medical care, healthcare providers and patients routinely miss opportunities for primary prevention, risk stratification and appropriate treatment for heart disease in women. This lack of early intervention can have untold consequences! The growing body of research shows a serious under-diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases and conditions in women. This is, in part, due to the fact that women are more likely to experience atypical symptoms. Women also have variations in clinical indications and treatment regimens when compared to men, underscoring the need for a gender-sensitive approach to cardiovascular medicine. WellStar Health System has committed to practice gender-sensitive medicine as an active member of HeartCaring® to increase awareness, education and effective preventive measures in the fight against heart disease in women.

  • Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States?
  • Did you know that almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly of heart disease have no previous symptoms?
  • Did you know that you can significantly reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by early detection and risk factor modification?

The WellStar Women’s Heart Program can help determine your risk for a future heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event.
For more information about the Women’s Heart Program, please call (470) 956-9964.


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WellStar Pediatric Center open on Barrett Parkway

Credit: WellStar

On July 7, WellStar opened a new Pediatric Center on Barrett Parkway. The child-centered facility has state-of-the art diagnostic tools, prompt appointments and test results, age-specific waiting areas, pediatric subspecialists, physical therapy for children, a full-time child life specialist to help when your child feels anxious and more.

Convenient services include an onsite pharmacy, office visits from 7 am to 4 pm, and after-hour care from 5-9pm. For more information, call (770) 594-PEDS (7337).


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WellStar Health System Names New President. Candice Saunders Takes Over as CEO in 2016


WellStar Health System, the largest not-for-profit health system in the state of Georgia, announced that Candice Saunders has been promoted to the role of WellStar president & chief operating officer. CEO Reynold Jennings’ contract will end on December 31, 2015, and at that time, Saunders will assume the role of WellStar president & CEO.

As part of the succession planning process, this announcement allows Jennings and Saunders to refine cohesive strategies, goals and objectives that will further WellStar’s vision of providing world-class healthcare. Saunders currently serves as the System’s chief operating officer.

As COO, Saunders has developed a Hospital Presidents Council with WellStar’s five hospitals that has increased efficiency, enhanced patient satisfaction and improved communication within the System. She also played a key role in developing the open-heart surgery program at WellStar.

Under her leadership, along with senior and physician leaders, WellStar has grown in national prominence and recently was recognized as a 2014 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies Places to Work For® (#39, highest among Georgia-based companies), AARP Best Employers For Workers Over 50, NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women 2014 and Working Mother Magazine’s 100 Best Companies. In addition, Saunders was named to Business to Business Magazine’s Women of Excellence list, which each year recognizes only 15 women for their performance, dynamic leadership and service to the community.
“WellStar is critical and essential to the communities it serves,” said Candice Saunders, president and chief operating officer of WellStar Health System. “More than 1.4 million people rely on our services to live a healthy life. With my new responsibilities, I will provide leadership continuity to ensure that our System continues to play a major role in providing world-class healthcare to the people of metro Atlanta and northwest Georgia for years to come.”

The WellStar Board of Trustee’s Succession Planning Committee went through an extensive internal vetting process for this position. Saunders brings more than 30 years of healthcare experience to this role. She joined WellStar in May 2007 as president of WellStar Kennestone Hospital and was promoted to executive vice president & chief operating officer for WellStar Health System in March 2013. While president of Kennestone Regional Medical Center, the hospital experienced exceptional growth and strong financial performance. Saunders oversaw the hospital’s Blue Tower expansion, the Kennestone Outpatient Pavilion construction and the Level II Trauma designation.

“Candice Saunders is an ideal executive to lead a System like WellStar and its more than 13,000 team members,” said Janie Maddox, chair of WellStar Board of Trustees. “Her ability to build strong relationships with our team members, senior leadership, medical staff and community will serve her well in this new position.”

“WellStar is woven into the fabric of the community we serve,” said Reynold Jennings, CEO of WellStar. “The mark of a great organization is being able to promote from within, and we are fortunate to have someone of Candice’s multi-state stature already in our System. She will bring a breadth of knowledge and experience that will ensure a successful transition and future growth opportunities.”

Prior to joining WellStar, Saunders was vice president of Clinical Strategy and Service Lines for Inova Health System in Falls Church, Va. She also served as chief operating officer of Inova Fairfax Hospital, an 833 bed medical complex. While at Inova, she developed and led the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute. At Emory University School of Medicine, Saunders held overall administrative responsibility for the Department of Medicine Clinical Programs. She also managed the Emory Heart Center and Cardiology programs. Saunders began her healthcare career as a critical care nurse in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. She has also held key leadership roles in nursing and physician practice administration in both academic and community settings. She has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of South Florida in Tampa, and master’s degrees in business administration and health services administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In addition, she is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, which is the country’s premier certification for healthcare management.


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Lose weight this year with WellStar


Did you know that WellStar offers Nutrition Counseling?

The WellStar Nutrition Network offers a weight management program designed for adults aiming to lose or maintain weight through lifestyle changes. Led by a registered dietitian, this program includes an initial consultation, review of key metrics, five interactive classes and two support groups.

Call (770)793-7454 for more information and to learn about the 2014 class schedule.


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WellStar’s East Cobb Health Park Update


A rendering of the interior of the WellStar East Cobb Health Park currently under construction.

With outpatient healthcare expected to grow 30 percent over the next five years, WellStar is developing health parks to deliver outpatient care in community- based facilities. WellStar Acworth Health Park opened in July 2012 and continues to exceed volume projections.

WellStar East Cobb Health Park, a three-story, 162,000 square foot development, is located at 3747 Roswell Road NE and is scheduled to open in September of 2014. The East Cobb Health Park will offer comprehensive medical services and will include urgent care, medical imaging, lab services, a pharmacy, cardiac diagnostics, a sleep center, physical therapy and cardiac and pulmonary rehab. These services will be integrated with a multi-specialty mix of physicians to include a strong foundation of primary care physicians – family physicians, internal medicine, pediatrics and OB/GYN services and specialists will include cardiologists, pulmonologists, ENT, gastroenterologists, surgeons, allergy/asthma, endocrinology, urology and orthopedics.

“A health park is all about bringing outpatient and physician services directly to the communities we serve,” said Joe Brywczynski, senior vice president health parks development. “Residents no longer will have to endure long drive times, frustrating traffic congestion and multiple trips to access their health services at multiple locations. By combining and coordinating services under one roof, we will improve patient and family convenience and access to their outpatient care needs. The health park is truly a onestop- shop opportunity.”

In addition to providing clinical services the WellStar East Cobb Health Park plans to target community prevention and wellness by providing community education and screening opportunities.  We believe that this innovative service model ultimately will improve healthcare access and convenience for the communities we serve, including our neighbors in East Cobb and the surrounding area.

Construction Updates
The median on Roswell Road has been completed, and the installation of a traffic signal at the facility’s entrance will take place within a few months. Beginning in January 2014, WellStar Medical Group will open an OB/GYN practice in the Merchants Station building. This will complete the range of primary care specialties now available in East Cobb. These physicians will move into the health park when the facility opens in September.

The health park’s services will be linked together with all other WellStar facilities via an electronic medical record. This will improve patient convenience and allow for better care coordination for patients. The health park will enhance the already strong presence in the county including WellStar facilities in East Cobb and many WellStar affiliated physicians and providers who already practice in Cobb County.

WellStar continues on a strategic course of providing comprehensive, high quality, convenient and easily accessible community-based outpatient healthcare to the community. Facilities like the
Acworth and East Cobb Health Parks provide examples of the system’s commitment to service innovation and WellStar has plans for future health park developments in Vinings and Cherokee County.

“WellStar is committed to the health of Cobb County residents and is pleased to offer this convenient, comprehensive and high-quality care to our community,” said Chris Kane, WellStar senior vice president for strategic business development.

The purchase of this property ideally positions WellStar to address the needs of the residents in this rapidly growing area. We have a noteworthy history in Cobb County but our health park investments are evidence of our optimism about the future.”

Recognized as the fifth most integrated healthcare delivery system in the country, WellStar Health System is the one of the largest not-for-profit health systems in Georgia and serves a population of nearly 1.4 million residents in five counties. The vision of WellStar is to deliver world-class healthcare. A national leader in the transformation of healthcare delivery, WellStar launched two  initiatives in late 2012 – the Center for Health Transformation and the Georgia Health Collaborative – that will have far reaching effects on healthcare both locally and nationally. WellStar includes WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center (anchored by WellStar Kennestone Hospital) and WellStar Cobb, Douglas, Paulding and Windy Hill hospitals; the WellStar Medical Group; Urgent Care Centers; Acworth Health Park; Health Place; Homecare; Hospice; Atherton Place; Paulding Nursing and Rehabilitation Center; and the WellStar Foundation.

For more information, call 770-956-STAR or visit

(Reprinted from the January 2014 issue of EAST COBBER)


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Have you gotten your flu shot? Protect yourself and your family against seasonal influenza.


More than 200,000 people are hospitalized annually for flu-related complications. The best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu is by getting a flu shot each year.
WellStar offers on-site flu shot clinics at schools, churches, businesses and other locations, in addition to our Urgent Care Centers.

What is influenza?

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious illness of the nose, throat and lungs caused by influenza viruses. It spreads easily through sneeze and cough droplets, causing mild to severe illness, and on rare occasions, death. Symptoms of seasonal flu include sudden high fever, chills, dry cough, headache, runny nose, sore throat, fatigue and muscle and joint pain.

What is the flu vaccine?

Seasonal flu vaccine protects against influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on international surveillance and scientists’ estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year. About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection develop in the body.
The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine containing inactive virus administered with a needle, usually in the arm. Because the vaccine contains inactivated (killed viruses), a flu shot cannot cause the flu. Flu shots are approved for people ages six months and older, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.

Why should I get vaccinated?

Flu vaccine reduces the average person’s chances of catching the flu by up to 80% during flu season. Because the vaccine prevents infection with only a few of the viruses that can cause flu-like symptoms, it isn’t a guarantee against getting sick. But even if someone who’s gotten vaccinated gets the flu, symptoms usually will be fewer and milder.

When to get vaccinated?

The flu season generally begins in October and lasts through May, with most flu activity in January or later, though the season can vary from year to year. Getting the flu vaccine as soon as it is available, usually beginning in October, will protect you if the season comes early. You can get the flu vaccine as long as the flu is affecting people in your area.
To schedule a flu shot, please call 770-956-STAR (7827). To get information about onsite flu clinics or to schedule a clinic for your group, please call 770-793-7323.



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WellStar and Walgreens announce Clinical Collaboration Agreement

Male Doctor Abstract Hand Gesture help

WellStar Health System and Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) (Nasdaq: WAG) recently announced a clinical collaboration agreement that will provide coordinated and expanded health care services, while improving access to high-quality, convenient and affordable care for patients in the northwest Atlanta market.

WellStar Urgent Care Centers and physician practices will work with Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens to handle serious conditions outside of the clinics’ scope of practice, and to help manage the treatment of chronic diseases.  While Walgreens and Healthcare Clinic strongly encourage all patients to have a designated primary care physician and medical home for ongoing needs, the collaboration will provide WellStar patients access to quality care seven days a week. The collaboration will include direct communication between WellStar physicians and Healthcare Clinic nurse practitioners to facilitate care coordination and sharing of patient information, and enhanced awareness of Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens and WellStar services.

“This collaboration extends quality care directly into our communities to provide greater access for patients,” said Reynold Jennings, WellStar president & CEO.  “We believe our communities will benefit from this type of collaborative model as we join forces with Walgreens to deliver more coordinated care.”

With the Affordable Care Act expected to bring millions of new patients into the healthcare system, the relationship aims to help address some of the needs and challenges facing both patients and healthcare providers.

“With the healthcare system today facing a myriad of challenges, Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens can play an important role in enhancing patient access to quality, convenient and affordable care,” said Alan E. London, chief medical officer, Consumer Solutions Group, Walgreens.  “Working with a highly integrated health system such as WellStar offers an ideal opportunity to further coordinate patient care in northwest Atlanta.  We look forward to working together to help patients in these communities get, stay and live well.”
Healthcare Clinic at select Walgreens-area locations partnering with WellStar include:

  • 1762 Mars Hill Road, NW, Acworth
  • 4120 Austell Road, Austell
  • 9465 Highway 5, Douglasville
  • 2779 N. Cobb Parkway, Kennesaw
  • 2464 Roswell Road, Marietta
  • 2988 Shallowford Road, Marietta
  • 5230 Dallas Highway, Powder Springs
  • 2670 Cobb Parkway, SE, Smyrna

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WellStar acquires cardio surgical practice


Dr. William Cooper

WellStar Medical Group welcomed three heart and lung surgeons, as well as four full-time physician assistants, into their network after acquiring a cardiovascular surgery practice from Emory University this week.

Unlike other recent additions, WellStar Medical Group did not buy the practice. Instead, the surgeons were brought into the system after the termination of an agreement between WellStar and Emory University.

Emory had been staffing the group that was performing surgeries at WellStar Kennestone Hospital. The cardiovascular surgery office will remain at its current location at 61 Whitcher St. in Marietta.

One of the cardiothoracic surgeons joining the health network is Dr. William Cooper, who has been affiliated with WellStar Kennestone Hospital since the inception of the cardiac surgery program in 2004.

Cooper, 45, who estimates he has performed 4,000 to 5,000 surgeries, said it is humbling that his practice has done so well.

Cooper said he is not focused on the personal gain, but on the tremendous responsibility that comes with caring for people.

“It is about taking the lives of individuals into our hands, and with God’s help, getting people back to enjoying life,” Cooper said.

Cooper said his parents, who were teachers, were his biggest motivators as a child. When his mom, Louise, died from pancreatic cancer when Cooper was 14, his focus turned to medicine.

“I went into this thinking I was going to cure cancer,” Cooper said, adding that he was very idealistic.

While in medical school, Cooper said he was exposed to various specialties, but was most intrigued by watching physicians working on the heart.

“You can watch somebody’s beating heart,” and then see that same patient walking and talking the next day, Cooper said. “The resilience of the heart is absolutely fascinating.”

Community service

As an assistant professor of surgery at the Emory University School of Medicine, Cooper directed the establishment of the cardiac surgery rotation at WellStar Kennestone Hospital for Emory cardiothoracic surgery residents.

Cooper said his goal of working with WellStar for almost 10 years has been to create a great teaching environment for students.

Even if the vast majority of students do not go into cardiovascular surgery, Cooper said it is a way to honor the men who mentored him.

Cooper’s commitment to serving the community does not stop at education.

As a U.S. Army reservist, he served as a lieutenant colonel in the Medical Corps in one tour with Operation Iraqi Freedom and two tours in Afghanistan with Operation Enduring Freedom.

Being in the Army for almost 30 years has taught him leadership, tenacity and endurance in a vulnerable situation.

Although he did not volunteer to go to a warzone, but was mobilized, Cooper said he would not trade the valuable experience.

Cooper said being a trauma surgeon in the Middle East has given him a unique perspective on the sacrifice “of 18- and 19-years-olds defending those that are much less fortunate than us.”

Team work

Cooper said the benefit of his practice being acquired by WellStar is that the integration will allow both the health system and the surgeons to move forward effectively in the same direction.

“We are looking forward to maintaining our standing in the top 15 percent of the country’s heart programs,” he said.

The focus will include evaluating and delivering surgical options to patients who are not candidates for more intrusive procedures.

These new technologies include percutaneous heart valves, which can be replaced without traditional surgery that requires cracking open a person’s sternum.

There are also heart failure therapies such as ventricular assist devices, which are implanted into patients that are not eligible for a transplant. With the help of this advancement, patients can get out of the hospital and even back to work, Cooper said.

Dr. Richard Myung, who joined the cardiovascular surgery practice when it expanded, is another surgeon WellStar acquired. Myung, completed residencies at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Emory University Medical Center in Atlanta.

“I am extremely excited to be joining WellStar and honored to be a part of a team delivering world-class healthcare to our region,” Myung said.

WellStar Health System is one of the largest not-for-profit health systems in Georgia and serves a population of nearly 1.4 million residents in five counties.

WellStar Medical Group has 53 surgeons of all specialties, in addition to 35 obstetrics physicians who perform gynecological surgeries.

Another cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Theresa Luu, will join the team in November. Cooper said Luu was also trained at Emory University and is anxious to get back to the Marietta area.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Rachel Gray October 05, 2013. Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – WellStar acquires cardio surgical practice)