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East Georgia Regional brings comprehensive neurosurgery service to Bulloch hospital

Dr. Don Graham will lead new program

    A native of the Detroit area of Michigan, Dr. Don Graham, remained a Midwesterner through most of his medical training in neurosurgery. An internship year in Largo, Fla., just after medical school and a fellowship in Tampa were precursors to a 15-year solo practice in Florida. In October 2005, however, Dr. Graham heard about Statesboro and the community’s and hospital’s desire for a neurosurgery program. In November 2006, he started a neurosurgical practice here.
    “The idea of starting a new program was appealing,” he said. “I was very comfortable with a successful practice in Florida, but the idea of developing a needed resource in a vibrant, university community was motivating.”
    Dr. Graham’s scope of practice includes both cranial and spinal evaluations and procedures, such as neck and back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, spinal narrowing (“stenosis”), degenerative disc disease including herniation, spinal cord injury and cranial hemorrhages and tumors.
    Establishing a new specialty in a community involves several components. “Certainly you must have a well-trained physician, and you need support from clinical staff in areas such as OR and ICU,” said East Georgia Medical Center CEO Bob Bigley. “Then there are investments in equipment.”
    Major equipment purchases at EGRMC were a surgical microscope and a navigation system. The microscope, in this case a $225,000 optic system, operates by touch screen and provides surgical field lighting and binocular vision. The navigation system, which cost about $200,000 takes images provided in pre-operative scans, like CTs or MRIs, and burns them onto a CD. The system software converts those images into 3D views that are overlaid and act as a mapping system for surgery. This system can also applied to spine, general orthopedic and otolaryngologic surgeries.
Director for surgical services George Moye, R.N., says preparing the OR for such an addition as neurosurgery entails a team effort. “The staff has shown a tremendous willingness in getting ready for Dr. Graham,” Moye said. Seven members of the OR staff have had experience in neurosurgery at other major hospitals, and two traveled to Texas for navigational system training. Moye also said the hospital is “extremely fortunate to have such an experienced anesthesia group to help with the specialty addition.”
    Dr. Graham completed his undergraduate studies at Albion College in Michigan. He received his medical education at the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. Following graduation he undertook a one-year rotating internship in Florida, then began a general surgery residency in Texas.
He later transferred into the neurosurgery residency program at Detroit Osteopathic Hospital/Bicounty Community Hospital. “My residency in Detroit included out-rotations at The University of Western Ontario with renowned neurovascular physicians Charles Drake and Sidney Peerless, and at the Montreal Neurologic Institute,” he said. From this work, Dr. Graham was later published in the professional journal “Neurosurgery.”
    After residency, Dr. Graham was a neurosurgery fellow at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He has maintained a clinical faculty position there for 16 years. In 1993 Dr. Graham was issued a patent for artificial disc for the spine, the first patent issued for artificial disc use in the cervical spine (upper spine). All previous patents, he explained, addressed the lumbar spine (lower spine).    
    He is board certified in neurosurgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons (FACOS).

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