2012 Best Doctors®
Augusta’s high quality of life is an important factor in the city’s success in attracting business and industry as well as retirees to the area. With its low cost of living, wealth of cultural and recreational amenities, mild climate and stable economy, the city continues to be ranked among the top places in the U.S. to live. One of the most important considerations to those looking to relocate here is the CSRA’s world-class healthcare options. In addition to an extensive number of excellent physicians, facilities and programs, the city is home to more than six nationally acclaimed hospitals, including a health sciences university, major Army medical center, two VA medical facilities and a premier burn center. With the physician/patient ratio ranking among the lowest in the country, Augusta is one of the best places in the country to live in terms of healthcare.
To help consumers navigate the city’s many choices of healthcare providers, Augusta Magazine publishes a biennial list of the best doctors in the CSRA as excerpted from the database of Best Doctors Inc., a company founded in 1989 by doctors affiliated with the Harvard University School of Medicine.
Best Doctors conducts an exhaustive, biennial peer review survey of the medical profession that contacts more than 45,000 doctors who were identified in previous research as the highest ranked in their specialties and asks them: “If you or a loved one needed a doctor, to whom would you refer?” Best Doctors’ process corrects for methodological biases; for example by identifying suspect voting patterns and weighing votes according to the voter’s own rating. In adddition Best Doctors is totally independent. Doctors do not pay to be included in the database and they are not paid to participate in the survey. The judgement of their peers is the determining factor.
So what follows is a listing of those doctors in the database from the CSRA. We hope the list will help prepare you to make healthcare choices for yourself and your family. For more information about the Best Doctors listing and methodology visit www.bestdoctors.com.
Dr. Cargill Alleyne
You’re going to work hard whatever you do, so work hard doing something you love,” says Dr. Cargill Alleyne, director of the neurosurgery residency program at Georgia Health Sciences University, among other professional appointments. Research, instruction, publishing, inventing and clinical practice stimulate, invigorate and energize him. “When you’re in the operating room, you’re dedicating all your energies, all your senses, to one specific problem and time flies,” he says. That experience of flow along with the element of human interaction drew him to medicine and specifically to neurosurgery.
His unique ability to be in the moment, tending to each patient one-on-one and, at the same time, to consider the bigger picture and how he can contribute to it distinguishes his approach to medicine. The model for his own career and his message to the neurosurgeons he teaches is this: Perform one surgery and change a single life. Teach another person to perform that surgery, change several lives. Conduct research and publish results and broaden the scope of impact by reaching practitioners around the world. Improve a current procedure or implement a new treatment paradigm and influence the healing of future generations of patients. Every element of this model supports a philosophy of providing the best care possible at the personal level and ensuring that every person receives the best care possible.
The brain is the last frontier, rife with the potential for specialties and sub-specialties. Despite technological advances made since Dr. Harvey Cushing (1869-1939), the undisputed Father of Neurosurgery, pioneered effective operations, the organ of the brain still holds many mysteries. Young residents, believes Dr. Alleyne, have the advantage of flexible thinking and, thus, possess the power to not just practice neurosurgery competently, but to improve it.
Interestingly, Dr. Alleyne has combined his love of Hollywood productions, his interest in medical history and his professional training in neurosurgery to write a screenplay, Hands of Gold, Feet of Clay–The Harvey Cushing Story, which won 13th place at the 2006 FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards. Though he very humbly says, “It was something to do,” the project required extensive reading and research and took a year to complete. A collection of coincidences suggests that perhaps it was more than something to do; it was something he was meant to do. For example, Cushing, incidentally, had a brother named Alleyne. Cushing and Dr. Alleyne both attended Yale. And the Cushing Tumor Registry, a collection of glass jars containing brain tissues from Cushing’s many surgeries, was stored in the basement of the building in which Dr. Alleyne lived during medical school at Yale.
Neurosurgeons dedicate six to seven years beyond medical school to honing their craft. They perfect technically precise procedures. Many lose themselves in their careers. Cushing performed more than 2,000 brain surgeries and recorded volumes of detailed notes and illustrations, advancing successful treatment methods but spending little time with his wife and five children. Dr. Alleyne shares Cushing’s commitment. Yet, he also values building a strong family with his wife Audrey and their children, Nicole, 10, and Nathan, 12. Working hard at what he loves energizes him for the ones he loves.
Dr Karen Foushee
Dr. Karen Foushee’s father gave her some of the best advice she ever got. He said, “You can do whatever you want to do and be whatever you want to be. But whatever that is, do it well.” She was a girl, the oldest of five siblings, coming of age in an era when more and more women were working outside the home and entering professions other than teaching and nursing. She profited from the influence of a strong father who aimed for his daughters, as well as his sons, to set big goals for themselves.
His words of wisdom echo in a similar message from one of Dr. Foushee’s mentors during her residency in pediatrics at Georgia Health Sciences University (then MCG). Dr. William Kanto, chief medical officer at Georgia Health Sciences University Medical Center and former chair of the department of pediatrics, as well as former medical director of the Children’s Medical Center, impressed upon her that pediatric medicine, to be done well, must be a vocation, not just a job. “He taught me the need to give your whole self to the practice of medicine,” says Dr. Foushee. “He was devoted to patients and patient care and seeking out what you don’t know.” As the managing partner of Pediatric Partners of Augusta, she immerses herself daily in the provision of knowledgeable, compassionate attention to her patients and their parents.
She and her partners are actively engaged in the process of making Pediatric Partners a nationally accredited patient-centered medical home. The guiding philosophy of the endeavor is to focus every element of their practice, from the business office to the reception area to the exam rooms, on the patient and his or her family, with the overall goal of helping the child grow into a healthy, happy adult. Earning this accreditation requires a practice-wide analysis of how services are currently delivered. “It’s easy for a practice to become compartmentalized and not see how those compartments are related and how they impact the patient,” says Dr. Foushee. The patient-centered medical home model compels the people and departments within the medical office to work cooperatively.
Not only is she active in improving the experience of patients at Pediatric Partners of Augusta, she also advocates for Georgia’s underprivileged children. As a member of a loosely organized coalition of pediatricians, she and those in the group seek the opportunity to make recommendations in regard to the Medicaid program and how care decisions are made for those on its roster. “This population would benefit from developing a relationship [with a physician] and having a medical home,” she says.
A trusting, continuous affiliation between patient and doctor, says Dr. Foushee, who sees many of her patients into their early 20s, is the key to successfully meeting the needs of the pediatric population. And it’s the gateway through which she ensures that she practices medicine in the manner exemplified by her role model, Dr. Kanto, and to the highest standards as stipulated by her father.
Dr. Murray Freedman
A stack of journals takes up one office chair. A box full of book notes takes up another. Various odds and ends of academia and reference materials are scattered about on surfaces. This stuff isn’t clutter. It’s evidence of a busy mind—Dr. Murray Freedman’s. Even as he speaks, thoughts line up in his head, bustling and jostling to organize themselves into provocative ideas, ideas he can’t wait to use to improve the quality of life of his patients.
Since completing his residency at the former Medical College of Georgia in obstetrics and gynecology in 1972, he has dedicated his career to women’s health. “It’s exciting to help them maintain health and glean the benefits of preventive medicine,” he says of serving patients in his clinical practice with Augusta GYN. He draws on his experience in research, publishing, teaching and treating to hone his knowledge.
Prior to receiving his medical degree, he earned an M.S. in endocrinology, both from MCG. This combined education, plus his continued research interests, forms the foundation of Dr. Freedman’s expertise in hormones and their influence in the human body. Dr. Freedman is quick to note, “Health, hormones and happiness are integrally related.” Women who begin hormone replacement therapy at the proper time in the proper dosage can avoid some of the lesser known or discussed post-menopausal changes, such as genital atrophy, as well as the maladies women are generally aware of, such as osteoporosis and hot flashes.
One of the messages he stresses to his patients is that women do not become asexual as they age. Intimacy and sexuality can be maintained well into a woman’s 60s, 70s and 80s. To that end, he has written a forthcoming book, titled Peanut Butter and Jelly, focused on helping couples attend to what he calls their sexesteem or, in other words, what they believe about themselves as a couple. Peanut Butter and Jelly is the first of a planned series of books to aid women in effectively coping with and overcoming the three variables associated with decline in sexuality in females: Increasing age, changes in hormone levels and transforming feelings for one’s partner.
Dr. Freedman laments the misconception about hormones that is pervasive among his patients and women in general. Studies in the early 2000s vilified hormone replacement therapy and implicated it in increased risk for breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. Noting flaws in the major study reporting these findings, he points to current research demonstrating that fears about taking hormones are unwarranted. He’s on a mission to spread the word.
“Honor the significant people in your life,” says Dr. Freedman. The statement serves as a personal motto and centering force for all of the ideas rumbling in his brain. He counts his patients among those important to him. Their trust and friendship over the years has enabled him to collect data to support his research. Through Peanut Butter and Jelly and the future books in the series, he will honor them by compiling and sharing much of what that they have helped him learn about women’s health, hormones and happiness.
Dr. Bruce Friedman
Critical Care Physician
In a life or death event, only the most staid individual has the disposition to immerse himself in it and sort it out. For Dr. Bruce Friedman, critical care director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital, touch-and-go puts him in his comfort zone. He possesses the all-important ability to slow things down and systematically assess the situation.
During medical school rotations, Dr. Friedman discovered his knack for the investigative work behind determining a diagnosis and plan of action for extremely ill patients. “I like trying to take care of the sickest people,” he says. Standing in the swirling fray of uncertainty doesn’t rattle him. It spurs him to put the pieces of the puzzle together so that he can provide the soundest treatment for the patient and calm the family’s emotional turmoil, if possible.
His heart for people and his head for problem-solving were established long before he knew how he would eventually combine them, however. As a boy, growing up in Greenwich Village in New York City and then in Hollywood, Fla., his mother taught him to respect all people. From her, he learned that every life has value. Later, in high school, a mentor, Brother John Melloh, emphasized the importance of valuing one’s self and one’s gifts. “He took me to that level of not only enjoying my education, but also he taught me how to be a scholar and the importance of continuing to educate myself throughout my whole life,” recalls Dr. Friedman.
When one invests himself so heavily in his work, frustrations inevitably arise. One of the biggest challenges faced in treating critical care patients in the burn unit is combating complications caused by opportunistic infectious diseases. “There are a lot of difficult multi-drug resistant organisms that we have to deal with. The organisms are ahead of us in some respects,” he explains. Nonetheless, setbacks are counterbalanced by the rewards of “seeing very, very sick burn patients with very, very large burns survive and get out of the hospital and have reasonable lifestyles and moving on,” says Dr. Friedman.
His 18 years with the burn center and his role as principal investigator in more than 50 clinical trials have made him the foremost national and international expert in this special area of critical care. While not only continuing to educate himself, he also trains other healthcare professionals and physicians across the country and around the world. Locally, he provides clinical supervision for students and fellows from Georgia Health Sciences University when they do rotations through burn care, pulmonary critical care and surgical critical care.
It’s easy to question how a person, even one whose composure is cut out for it, can withstand the intensity of critical care day in and day out. First, Dr. Friedman accepts that there are some things he cannot fix. Second, at the end of each day, he goes home to the comfort of his wife, Kal, and their children, Alyssa, 13, and Nick, 16. Third, he never loses sight of the value of every life.