Heart & Vascular Patient Stories

Wondering who to choose for your heart and vascular care? An established cardiovascular program is nothing new for the communities of northeast Georgia. For the past twenty years, the heart and vascular experts at Northeast Georgia Health System have served our communities with dedication, expertise and interdependence. Hear from our patients first hand about their experience with NGHS.

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“I had been struggling with atrial fibrillation for a long time. I experienced dizziness, fatigue and headaches… it’s nothing to play around with.”

After meeting Salem Sayar, MD, an electrophysiologist at The Heart Center of NGMC, Doug Watson, a 67-year-old U.S. Forest Service retiree, learned that his best option for long-term relief would be a transcatheter ablation, which is a quick, minimally-invasive procedure.

Dr. Sayar is just an amazing physician. He’s caring and personable, but also a very experienced and knowledgeable doctor – and Kristin Gilmore, RMA, along with his entire team is the same way. He not only saved my life, but the care he provided drastically improved my overall quality of life.”

doug watson

Emergency Cardiac Care

No one expects for cardiac arrest to happen, least of all to a healthy, 38-year-old firefighter. But it did. Meet Jonathan Barton, a long-time Sergeant with Hall County Fire Services, loving husband and father of two.

NGMC is the first hospital in the state of Georgia to receive an Emergency Cardiac Care designation from the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Heart Failure

“I had been in and out of the hospital for months coping with heart failure, and that’s when I met Dr. Egolum. I remember that day so clearly because I had never met anyone like him. He was so well-versed in heart failure care and he took the time to truly listen and connect with me as a person.”

Now, Charlotte Childs, a 53-year-old mother of four, feels better than ever before. Thanks to a personalized medication regimen and ongoing disease management, she’s able to live her life without any limitations and is genuinely excited for the future.

“Heart failure can stop you in your tracks. Before you know it, simple, everyday tasks, like getting dressed or showering, can become too difficult to do on your own. That’s a scary reality that most people can’t even imagine, but Dr. Egolum gave me my life back.”

Heart Surgery

“When I first got the news that I had severe stenosis of the valve, I panicked. I’ve always been someone who goes on long hikes and gets ample exercise.

Once the diagnosis settled in, Jim Owings, a 68-year-old grandfather of 10, continued to manage his condition with medication and lifestyle adjustments; however, his symptoms only continued to worsen. That’s when surgery became one of the few options he had left.

“There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty that surrounds heart surgery, of course. Dr. Dan Winston was patient, thorough and extremely knowledgeable, but what impressed me the most was the reputation he had earned among other surgeons across the state. It was a truly great experience because of Dr. Winston and the entire cardiovascular and thoracic surgical team, and I am still amazed by how smoothly it all went.”

Structural Heart

“I’ve known Dr. Winston for several years and have the utmost faith in his abilities – he really is the best. But the level of care and attention I received from the entire team, namely, Structural Heart Coordinator, Ansleigh Setzer, nurse practitioner, was just remarkable.”

Having experienced multiple heart and vascular interventions in the past, Peggy Vardeman, an 87-year-old retired science teacher and long-time volunteer at NGHS, was prepared for a lengthy recovery after her TAVR procedure, but she’s still amazed at how quickly she recovered – and how great she’s feeling.

“The innovative treatments and technology they have now are just absolutely amazing – heart care has come so far. I didn’t realize how bad I was feeling before the procedure or recognize all the symptoms I had, but this procedure has helped me to feel so much better. It really is a miracle.”