A New Hope for North Georgia’s Hearts

By The North Georgia Heart Foundation

According to the Centers for Disease Control, every 34 seconds a person in the U.S. has a heart attack. In fact, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. Heart disease knows no boundaries, impacting every age and socioeconomic group. Currently, no network of community research exists in rural areas for cardiovascular disease and, unfortunately, much of the groundbreaking science and research happening around the world never reaches the majority of patients. For all these reasons, Jeffrey Marshall, MD, FACC, FSCAI, an interventional cardiologist with The Heart Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center, brought together a community-based group of leaders to form the North Georgia Heart Foundation.
“The North Georgia Heart Foundation is a unique community-based foundation that has important goals that no one else is doing in North Georgia,” says Dr. Marshall. “We are seeing women with heart attacks in their mid 30s and men having heart attacks in their late 20s. It’s a scourge on our community, and we need to do the research and the teaching to provide hope for the future.”
For more than a year, board members of North Georgia Heart Foundation (NGHF), including Dr. Marshall; George Ordway, PhD, PA-C, physician assistant with The Heart Center at Northeast Georgia Medical Center; Perry Barnett, CPA and partner with Rushton & Company; Tommy Bagwell, owner of American Proteins, Inc.; Tom Calkins, an attorney and managing partner with Hulsey, Oliver & Mahar, LLP; Nic Chronos, MD, an interventional cardiologist with Cardiology Care Clinic; Rob Fowler, partner at Turner Wood & Smith Insurance; Kim Hudson-Gallogly, PhD, APRN-BC, department head of the School of Nursing at University of North Georgia; Ron Quinn, president and CEO of Peach State Bank & Trust; Keeta Wilborn, PhD, RN, professor of nursing at Georgia Gwinnett College; Jack Griffeth, MD, a radiation oncologist with Northeast Georgia Cancer Specialists; and Jane Anderson-Buffington, BSN, MSN, an assistant professor of nursing at Brenau University have been working together to outline and lay the groundwork for long-term success.
“The Heart Foundation is a huge undertaking for our community,” says Perry Barnett, treasurer of NGHF board. “We are the first organization of our kind in this area, and we have been working hard over the past year to do our due diligence to ensure a strong foundation, creditable reputation and identify clear financial and tangible goals. This is important work, in fact it is life-saving work with unlimited potential on the lives of those in our community.”
NGHF seeks a world without cardiovascular disease, starting right outside our backdoor. With the support of the community, NGHF will serve as a platform to work towards making a significant difference in the lives of those in the communities of North Georgia and apply that knowledge for a global benefit.
“Research. Education. Hope. These are the basic core values and beliefs of North Georgia Heart Foundation,” says Keeta Wilborn, board member of NGHF. “We believe that through local research, both clinical and population based, we have the ability to impact the heart health of our community; that local, community education is the key to eradicating cardiovascular disease and improving outcomes; and that if we provide hope to just one person, family, mother, daughter, grandfather or friend, we have touched a life in our community in a way that cannot be measured.”
NGHF will begin its efforts by focusing on four main goals:
Bring science to patients by providing local access to cutting-edge, cardiovascular research
Enhance collaboration among students, schools and medical professionals to decrease incidence of cardiovascular disease through a network of community research and health education
Save lives and improve the cardiovascular quality of life for the communities in North Georgia
Become a “destination” for world renowned cardiovascular scientists in a premier center of innovation and treatment

“Of course big work, comes with a big price tag,” continues Tommy Bagwell, board member of NGHF. “I am personally vested in seeing the Heart Foundation succeed, but heart disease is bigger than one person. It is going to take our entire community coming together to support this project like none before to be able to make a dent in the number one killer of all Americans. I truly believe this community is the right community to turn this Foundation into one of the nation’s leading entities, attracting the country’s top physicians, providing access to cutting-edge research trials and care and creating a community revolution against heart disease like none other.”
“I see the future of the Foundation as limitless,” says Dr. Marshall. “Stretching from Augusta to Cartersville, I foresee an enclave where we see the best survival in the country for heart attack. Let’s then make sure we are diagnosing hearts better than anyone else, and then let’s make sure if you have a heart attack in this community that you receive the best care possible. I believe we can put this community on the map as the number one research foundation for cardiovascular disease in America.”
For more information visit pulseoftomorrow.org or call 678-928-3328.

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