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A quarterly publication of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia



Need a Pediatrician? To make an appointment with a pediatric or adolescent medicine specialist, call

706-721-KIDS (5437).


Welcome:  Welcome to the winter edition of Georgia Kids First, a publication of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia Department of Pediatrics. I am delighted to bring you this edition focused on the value of CHOG’s medical education.  Medical education at a teaching hospital such as CHOG remains our primary resource for teaching and learning pediatric medicine.  The road to becoming a reliable physician begins with medical school, followed by a residency, and perhaps a fellowship in a specific area of medicine. The Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University is a great learning environment for all of these steps.  As I recall fond memories of my resident training, I remember the words of an attending physician, Dr. John Freeman of Johns Hopkins University: “Taking care of patients is very rewarding and you can make a difference on the spot for children and for families and sometimes even for the community if you do the right thing.”  He told me that research is about taking care of patients in the future and that big discoveries will quickly be surpassed. Your goal is to be part of that foundation by being one brick in the structure. But what really matters are your academic children and grandchildren, the people you train and the people who are trained by them. Those are the people who are really going to carry forward your legacy of making a difference and multiply the effects of what you do because of all the lives they will touch.  We hope you enjoy meeting some of our “academic children” in this edition of Georgia Kids First.

Dates to remember: Heart & Sole 5K March 1  Tie up your shoe laces for the Augusta Heart and Sole 5K March 1 at 9 a.m. at 1446 Harper Street. Heart & Sole was founded in 2006 in memory of Margaret Bowen McElreath, who died at just 13 days old from heart complications. This non-profit organization raises money for children with heart complications. To learn more about the race, visit

IHOP National Pancake Day March 4 
   Participating Central Savannah River Area IHOPs will serve free buttermilk short stacks on National Pancake Day. Patrons are encouraged to make donations to the Children’s Miracle Network, which benefits CHOG. Participating IHOPs are at 3125 Peach Orchard Road, 4361 Washington Road, and 180 Aiken Mall Drive in Aiken, S.C.

Kelsi Long Memorial Ride March 15

Bernard L. Maria, MD, MBA Pediatrician-in-Chief, Children’s Hospital of Georgia Ellington Charles Hawes Professor Chairman, Department of Pediatrics Georgia Regents University


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 Motorcyclists and riders are set to rally in front of CHOG for the 12th annual Kelsi Long Memorial Ride and Fundraiser. Organizer Mike Maddox started the bike ride in 2003 in memory of his granddaughter, Kelsi Long, who died from complications related to Down syndrome. For more information, visit or call 706-832-4361.

Training Our Future Physicians


 The Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University houses just over 1,380 students, fellows, and residents. The Children’s Hospital of Georgia gives them a glimpse into pediatrics practice. Here, over 900 medical students will undergo a clerkship in pediatrics during their third year of medical school.  “It is important for all physicians to have some exposure to the practice of pediatrics,” says Dr. Valera Hudson, a pediatric pulmonologist and Director of the Pediatrics Residency Program.  MCG consistently exceeds the national average of 11 percent of medical students who choose pediatrics as a specialty. The general pediatrics residency program has 46 residents at CHOG. Residents and fellows here also train in a wide variety of pediatric specialties.  “Once you finish medical school, you are an MD, but not allowed to practice medicine until you receive additional training,” says Hudson. “For a pediatric residency, that is three additional years of learning alongside faculty to develop the knowledge and skills that are necessary.”  In addition to the core pediatrics residency, CHOG offers fellowships in pediatric cardiovascular medicine, pediatric neonatology, and emergency medicine pediatrics.

“I came to MCG as a visiting student during my fourth year of medical school,” says Dr. Lauren Newhall, Pediatric Chief Resident. “I was impressed with the interactions between residents and between residents and attendings. I felt like this was a place I fit in well and would be happy working for the next three years.”

“The residency program at CHOG balances close professional relationships between residents with a diverse and sizable patient population,” says Dr. Jordan Weitzner, Pediatric Chief Resident.

Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University Pediatric Residency GRU.EDU/PEDSRESIDENCY

Medical Student Passionate about Pediatrics




 “I was predisposed to the idea of pediatrics when I was younger,” says Spencer Poore, a fourth-year MCG student who plans to specialize in pediatrics. “I thought that I would like to do pediatrics before I came to medical school.”  He comes by his interest honestly: His father is a dentist, his mother an intensive care unit nurse, and his uncle a pediatric pulmonologist.  He dove into pediatrics during the Dean’s Summer Research Program after his first year at MCG.  “I was able to work with kids who have cystic fibrosis in clinical trials doing cardiovascular studies,” he says.  Pediatrics felt like a natural decision based on Poore’s first clinical rotation.  “Day one as I walked into general pediatrics, I saw my first patient,” says Poore. “I got to do general clinic and a few subspecialty clinic experiences, then I did two weeks of inpatient wards.”  He hasn’t looked back since.  “Pediatrics made sense because I realized right away that this is what made me happy,” says Poore. “I feel that you


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have to magnetize yourself to the positivity in your life, and whatever that is, you should dedicate your life to it in order to be satisfied and complete every day. Pediatrics did that for me instantly.”  On March 21, he joins thousands of medical students in the nationwide National Residency Matching Program for Match Day to learn where he will train in pediatrics.


Pediatric Cardiology Fellow Heart of the Matter


 A pediatrics clerkship has led a Medical College of Georgia graduate to a career in pediatrics.  “My pediatrics rotation at MCG was the single thing that steered me toward my career path,” says Dr. Mac Vining, who is completing the final year of a pediatric cardiology fellowship.  

“The enjoyment that I got as a medical student through that rotation made me decide right then and there that is what I wanted to do.”

 CHOG’s pediatric cardiology clinic treats about 15 to 20 patients a day and conducts rounds on hospitalized patients, enabling a wide gamut of experiences for fellows.  “When you look at a [newborn] who is incredibly sick and there is nothing that they or their parents can do about it, as a human being you want to help that patient,” says Vining. “As a pediatric cardiologist, I get a chance to do that

every single day and it makes my job fun, interesting, and also very rewarding.”  He shares that being a pediatric cardiologist is fun, noting that his sometimes-playful techniques to elicit heart information often keep patients from knowing they’re being examined.

“To me, that makes my work easy and enjoyable,” says Vining.  Our board-certified cardiologists and surgeons provide care for children with heart conditions and cardiac abnormalities. To make an appointment, visit or call 706-721-KIDS (5347) or toll free at 888-721-KIDS (5347).



Pediatric Resident Helps Samson Rebuild His Temple


 A 2-year-old boy named Samson Yarbrough waits with his mother in the CHOG Continuity Clinic. The room is filled with the sounds and sights of early childhood.

Samson slams the door, then giggles and repeats the motion.    Shortly after arriving, his resident physician enters the room.  “Hello, how are you Samson?” says Dr. Beth McKinnon, a third-year pediatric resident who has followed Samson since birth.

“Samson,” she whispers. “Samson.”    



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 “Beth,” Samson responds.


Samson’s checkup may seem like a routine rite of childhood, but his story is different; he underwent surgery to repair his heart shortly after birth.  “My whole pregnancy was normal,” says his mother, Lindsey. “When he arrived, he was blue. Obviously, being born here, it was the perfect place; God just worked it out because this is a specialty hospital. The physicians knew immediately what was wrong.”  Samson had two surgeries within days of his birth to reposition his aorta and pulmonary arteries.

“It was absolutely amazing with the care he received,” says his mother. “Ten days, that’s it. When he came home, he took medicine for a short time and only has to see the pediatric cardiologist once per year.”  McKinnon was on rotation in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit when Samson was born. After her rotation, she began a pediatric cardiovascular rotation and stayed involved in his care.  “That’s the point of continuity clinic,” says McKinnon. “You get to care for children from the beginning. He is one of my special patients I have had since I started my residency.”  She loves watching him grow and thrive—a testament to the care he received at CHOG.

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Wrong address? Need to update your information? Tell us by email at Go online to Or call us at 706-721-4001 13th Annual Cares for Kids Radiothon THE 2013 CHILDREN’S MIRACLE NETWORK CARES FOR KIDS RADIOTHON RAISED $189,000 FOR CHOG. PICTURED ARE REPRESENTATIVES FROM 104.3 WBBQ, AND KISS 96.3 AS CHOG EMPLOYEES CELEBRATE THE DONATIONS.

For more information or to make a donation, call 706-721-4004 or visit

Georgia Kids First winter 2014  
Georgia Kids First winter 2014