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Are You Ready For Flu Season?

Did you know the flu vaccine is the #1 way to protect yourself from getting the flu? Two out of three strains for the vaccine have changed from past years, making immunization more important than ever. WellStar can provide convenient flu vaccinations and preventive education at your place of business, congregation or community event.Call: 770-793-7373, email or visit to schedule a flu clinic.


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WellStar East Cobb Health Park Conducts First Surgery



WellStar Health System continues to advance community based healthcare.  On July 1, WellStar opened an Outpatient Surgery Center at the WellStar East Cobb Health Park, providing a convenient, close to home location for surgeries that do not require a hospital stay.

“Since WellStar first opened a Health Park in Acworth three years ago, our community has embraced the health park concept and the convenience it provides,” said Candice Saunders, president & CEO of WellStar Health System.  “Over the next decade, we expect to see outpatient services continue to grow.  WellStar will continue to meet the healthcare needs of our communities through innovative solutions and world-class healthcare.”

The state-of-the-art Surgery Center includes 20 private, prep/recovery rooms, three operating room suites and three procedure rooms. The Surgery Center also provides onsite pathology support, a private patient discharge elevator and covered pick up area separate from the Health Park’s main entrance.

“The WellStar East Cobb Health Park is truly a one-stop-shop for all outpatient medical services,” said Joe Brywczynski, senior vice president of health parks administration.  “With the addition of the Outpatient Surgery Center, we will be better able to serve our community and bring them the leading service and exceptional experience they have grown to expect from WellStar.”

The 162,000 square-foot WellStar East Cobb Health Park opened in September of 2014, bringing primary and specialty physician offices together with comprehensive diagnostics, laboratory services, rehabilitation therapy, urgent care, a retail pharmacy, and now, an outpatient surgery center.

The Health Park’s physician mix includes family physicians, internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN services and specialists include cardiologists, pulmonologists, ENT, neurosurgery, pain management, chiropractic care, vascular surgery, general surgery, allergy/asthma, endocrinology, urology and orthopedics.  Rheumatology will be added in August.

The WellStar East Cobb Health Park Outpatient Surgery Center is open Monday through Friday and is located at 3747 Roswell Road NE, Marietta, Ga. Visit or call 770-956-STAR (7827) for more information.


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Sun Safety Tips from WellStar


Summer fun is in full swing all around East Cobb – and with long summer days comes the hot summer sun. With these tips from WellStar, have fun in the sun without sacrificing your skin:

While everybody needs some sun exposure to the body produce vitamin D (which helps in the absorption of calcium for stronger and healthier bones), unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause damage to the skin, eyes, and immune system. It can also cause cancer. Skin cancer is increasing at a dramatic rate, particularly among people in their 20s. In fact, most children receive between 50 and 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure before they reach the age of 18. Although there are other contributing factors, including heredity and environment, sunburn and excessive UV light exposure does damage the skin, and this damage can lead to skin cancer.

What does tanning do to the skin?

Tanning is the skin’s response to UV light – a protective reaction to prevent further injury to the skin. However, tanning does not prevent skin cancer.

What is ultraviolet radiation?

Energy from the sun reaches the earth as visible, infrared, and ultraviolet (UV) rays.

  • Ultraviolet A (UVA) is made up of wavelengths 320 to 400 nm (nanometers) in length.
  • Ultraviolet B (UVB) wavelengths are 280 to 320 nm.
  • Ultraviolet C (UVC) wavelengths are 100 to 280 nm.

Only UVA and UVB ultraviolet rays reach the earth’s surface. The earth’s atmosphere absorbs UVC wavelengths.

  • UVB rays cause a much greater risk of skin cancer than UVA.
  • However, UVA rays cause aging, wrinkling, and loss of elasticity.
  • UVA also increases the damaging effects of UVB, including skin cancer and cataracts.

In most cases, ultraviolet rays react with a substance called melanin, which is found in the skin. This is the first defense against the sun, as it is the melanin that absorbs the dangerous UV rays that can do serious skin damage. A sunburn develops when the amount of UV damage exceeds the protection that the skin’s melanin can provide. While a small amount of exposure to sunlight is healthy and pleasurable, too much can be dangerous. Measures should be taken to prevent overexposure to sunlight in order to reduce the risks of cancers, premature aging of the skin, the development of cataracts, and other harmful effects.

How can you protect yourself against the sun’s harmful rays?

The best means of protecting yourself against the damaging effects of the sun is by limiting exposure and protecting the skin.

The best way to prevent sunburn in children over 6 months of age is to follow the “Be Sun Smartsm” tips from the American Academy of Dermatology:

  • Generously apply a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30 to all exposed skin. “Broad-spectrum” means the sunscreen protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. Re-apply about every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, whenever possible
  • Seek shade when appropriate. Remember that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
  • Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand. They reflect the damaging rays of the sun which can increase your chances of sunburn.
  • Get vitamin D through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements.
  • Do not use tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look tan, try using a self-tanning product, but also use sunscreen with it.
  • Check your birthday suit on your birthday. If you notice anything changing, growing, bleeding on your skin, see a doctor right away. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.

Remember, sand and pavement reflect UV rays even while under an umbrella. Snow is also a good reflector of UV rays. Reflective surfaces can reflect up to 85 percent of the damaging sun rays.

Also, take special care to purchase protective eye wear for you and your children. Purchase sunglasses with labels ensuring they provide UV protection.

Be sure to remember that many over-the-counter and prescription medications increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays. As a result, people can develop a severe sunburn in just minutes when taking certain medications. Read medication labels carefully and use extra sunscreen as needed.

What are sunscreens?

Sunscreens protect the skin against sunburns and play an important role in blocking the penetration of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. However, no sunscreen blocks UV radiation 100 percent.

Terms used on sunscreen labels can be confusing. The protection provided by a sunscreen is indicated by the sun protection factor (SPF) listed on the product label. A product with an SPF higher than 15 is recommended for daily use. Sunscreens contain ingredients that help absorb UV light, whereas sunblocks contain ingredients that physically scatter and reflect UVB light. Keep in mind that most sunblock products do not protect against UVA rays.

How to use sunscreens

A sunscreen protects from sunburn and minimizes suntan by absorbing UV rays. Using sunscreens correctly is important in protecting the skin. Consider the following recommendations:

  • Choose a sunscreen for children and test it on your child’s wrist before using. If your child develops skin or eye irritation, choose another brand. Apply the sunscreen very carefully around the eyes.
  • Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that filters out both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
  • Apply sunscreens to all exposed areas of skin, including easily overlooked areas, such as the rims of the ears, the lips, the back of the neck, and tops of the feet.
  • Use sunscreens for all children over 6 months of age, regardless of skin or complexion type, because all skin types need protection from UV rays. Even dark-skinned children can have painful sunburns.
  • Apply sunscreens 30 minutes before going out into the sun to give it time to work. Use it liberally and reapply it every two hours after being in the water or after exercising or sweating. Sunscreens are not just for the beach – use them when you are working in the yard or participating in sports.
  • Use a waterproof or water-resistant sunscreen and re-apply after swimming or sweating heavily.
  • Use of a sunscreen with SPF of 20 to 30 offers substantial protection from sunburn and prevents tanning. High SPF sunscreens protect from burning for longer periods of time than do sunscreens with lower a SPF. Talk with your older child or teenager about using sunscreen and why it’s important. Set a good example for them by using sunscreen yourself.
  • Teach your teenager to avoid tanning beds and salons. Most tanning beds and salons use ultraviolet-A bulbs. Research has shown that UVA rays may contribute to premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.(Source:



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WellStar continues to grow

West Georgia Health announced that it has signed a formal letter of intent to join with Marietta-based WellStar Health System, the largest not-for-profit community health system in Georgia.

Through a rigorous evaluation of numerous potential partners, West Georgia Health determined that WellStar represented an ideal partner to ensure it will continue its mission of providing top quality healthcare for its community and patients.

Click here for more information. WellStar employs more than 12,000 people in Cobb County.



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Take a tour of WellStar East Cobb Health Park’s New Outpatient Surgery



The new outpatient surgery center at WellStar East Cobb Health Park will open July 1. The community is invited to get a sneak peak of the state-of-the-art facility during tours on Saturday, June 6 from 9 to 11 a.m.

Bringing an outpatient surgery center to East Cobb is a result of WellStar’s commitment to create innovative healthcare solutions that bring healthcare close to home.

WellStar East Cobb Health Park is located at 3747 Roswell Road NE in Marietta, Ga. No R.S.V.P. is required to attend the free event.


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WellStar offers No-Fee Cancer Support Group


WellStar invites all breast cancer survivors at any stage to participate in a monthly support group. The group will provide an opportunity to share experiences with other survivors, tips and resources to manage your health, relationships, emotional and social well-being.

For more no-fee cancer support programs at WellStar, download their May/June schedule of events.


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St. Ann’s to Sponsor Town Hall on WellStar -Emory Healthcare Merger


WellStar and Emory Healthcare are exploring a possible merger between their healthcare systems.

Understandably, this may result in concerns and/or questions such as, “How might this affect me personally?”, “How might this impact my family’s medical care and established medical providers?”, “Will this affect my hospital of choice and other treatment locations?”

Those involved in the discussions are seeking the input of the community.

Representatives will be at St. Ann for a town hall style meeting for an informative Q and A session on Thursday, May 7th at 7 pm in Nolan Hall (the parish hall). St. Ann’s is located at 4905 Roswell Road, Marietta, GA 30062.


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Suffer from Spring allergies? WellStar has answers.


The icky green stuff is back – it’s pollen season East Cobbers. To help you through this sniffly season, WellStar’s Grace Chiang, M.D, answers common questions about allergies.


1. What are the most common allergies and what causes them?
Many people have allergies triggered by substances inhaled from the air, such as pet dander, mold, dust mites, and pollen (trees, grasses, weeds).

Food allergies have also become more common over the years, with >90% of food allergies caused by 7 foods: milk, egg, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nuts.

The underlying cause of allergies is likely due to a complex interaction between genetics and environmental factors. Many studies are underway to further elucidate the causes of allergies and why the incidence is rising in the U.S. and many other industrialized countries. In general, allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to a substance that is usually not pathogenic or harmful. Risk factors for developing allergies include a positive family history or personal history of allergic conditions including asthma or eczema.

2. Many people think they have a cold when it is actually allergies and vice versa-How do you differentiate between these two conditions?
Symptoms that may occur in both conditions include runny nose, congestion, sneezing and cough. With a cold, these symptoms may be associated with fever and body aches, lasting for approximately 7-10 days. With allergies, itching of the eyes and/or nose is often present. Symptoms usually last for weeks to months at a time, as long as the allergic trigger is present.

3. People tend to think of allergies as causing itchy eyes, runny noses, but can they cause more serious health risks?
Allergies can result in more serious health consequences in individuals with asthma. At least 80% of people with asthma have allergies that trigger their asthma, which can lead to coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. This may lead to asthma attacks that can result in ER visits or hospitalizations. It is thus important for asthmatics to see an allergist and identify potential allergic triggers. Treating a patient’s allergies is an important part of optimizing asthma care.

4. If you do have allergies, how can you manage them?
A 3 pronged approach is most effective in managing allergies:

  • 1. Environmental control measures: strategies to minimize exposure to known allergic triggers, such as keeping a pet out of the bedroom, use of air filters, and dust mite proof encasings
  • 2. Medications: help to control symptoms but often need to be taken regularly in order to be effective
  • 3. Immunotherapy (“allergy shots”): the only treatment available that alters your body’s immune response to allergens and provides long lasting relief, reducing symptoms and the need for medications

5. How are allergies diagnosed?
Skin testing may be safely performed in children and adults to accurately diagnose allergies, under the supervision of a board certified allergist. Contrary to common belief, there is no age requirement for skin testing. For example, many infants are able to be skin tested for allergy to milk and/or soy, if there is a concern for allergy to their formula. We are able to test for environmental and food allergies as well as stinging insects (bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jacket, fire ant) and penicillin. If skin testing is positive, we expect to see a small, red, itchy bump develop within 15 minutes. I thus have the opportunity to interpret the skin test findings with the patient at the same visit and develop an individualized treatment plan.

6. How are allergies related to other medical conditions, such as asthma and eczema?
Asthma and eczema are other forms of allergic disease. It is thus common for allergies, asthma and eczema to all occur in the same patient or family. Having one of these conditions increases your risk for having the other two, something referred to as the “atopic march,” in which young children may initially have eczema and food allergies, later also developing allergies (hayfever) and asthma.

7. There is a lot of concern about giving children medicine-what is safe and what do you need to avoid?
It can be difficult navigating the many allergy treatments that are now available OTC. It is worthwhile to see an allergist to establish the diagnosis of allergies first. Your allergist can then recommend specific treatments at doses that are safe for children.

8. Is there any truth to the practice of exposing young children to more allergens and germs in order to build up their immune systems?
Some studies have shown that the risk of allergies is reduced for children who are around more bacteria or “germs,” as a result of growing up on a farm or with multiple pets or siblings in the home. The exposure needs to occur very early in life, however, so making these changes later in childhood will not have a protective effect. This is likely an overly simplistic viewpoint however, as the underlying cause of allergies is likely a complex interaction between many variables, both genetic and environmental.

9. What about pet allergies? A lot of people out there really want pets, but their allergies won’t allow them. Are there treatments people can take to help with this?
Allergy shots are the most effective treatment to allow people to live or interact with pets they are allergic to. The allergy shots gradually introduce cat or dog dander to the body’s immune system, helping that individual to develop greater tolerance, or “immunity.” It thus takes time for the allergy shots to result in improvement, but they are the most effective treatment available in providing long term relief.

10. What is an allergist and why should I see one?
An allergist is a doctor that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of all types of allergic conditions in children and adults, including allergic rhinitis (hayfever), sinus disease, asthma, food allergies, eczema, stinging insect allergy, drug allergy, hives, anaphylaxis, and immune deficiencies. An allergist receives an additional 2-3 years of specialized training after completing their residency. They must also complete a rigorous examination to become board certified in Allergy. All individuals with symptoms or concern for an allergic condition can certainly benefit from seeing an allergist.
Grace Chiang, M.D., has extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and allergic conditions in both children and adults and is in practice with WellStar Medical Group, Allergy and Asthma. She is board certified in allergy/immunology and pediatrics.


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Questions about vaccines? WellStar has answers.

So are vaccines safe? Which vaccine schedule should I use for my child? Will there be any side effects? These are all very common questions when it comes to starting the vaccine process for your child.


WellStar Pediatrics has full confidence that vaccinations are safe and recommends the schedule endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.


“We realize that there are many fears and misconceptions about vaccines,” said Enid Colon, M.D., WellStar Medical Group, WellStar Pediatric Professionals. “But medical evidence indicates vaccinations are safe and protect our children from very dangerous and sometimes fatal diseases.”


According to the CDC, vaccines have reduced or eliminated many infectious diseases in the United States that once routinely killed or harmed many infants, children and adults. However, the viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine-preventable disease and death still exist and can be passed on to people who have not been adequately protected.


“It is extremely important that we vaccinate our children,” said Dr. Colon. “The side effects are typically minimal and can include soreness or redness in the injection area and fever.”


Once your children’s vaccinations are complete, there are still booster vaccinations they should receive on a regular basis, such as a tetanus shot every 10 years and an annual flu shot.


“Flu season affects our community every year and can result in serious medical complications,” added Dr. Colon. “Furthermore, it can have detrimental effects on school attendance and loss of work days for parents taking care of affected children. Receiving a flu vaccination is an easy way of protecting you and your children from these risks. All of our WellStar pediatric offices provide the influenza vaccine, some even to the parents. We encourage our patients to ask our pediatricians for information regarding any of the vaccines currently in use.”


For more information on the recommended vaccine schedule, go to For more information on vaccines, go to​. For a physician referral, call 770-956-STAR.​​​​​​​​​


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Advance Care Planning Workshops at WellStar

Copy of Wellstar

Need information about Living Wills and other advance directives? At this workshop you will learn how to talk with your loved ones abut final health care decisions. Each participant will receive a free planning guide which outlines questions you and your family should discuss along with forms you can use to record your wishes.

WellStar East Cobb Health Park
3747 Roswell Rd., Marietta, GA
Wednesday, March 18
10-11:30 a.m.


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