By Gwyn Herbein
When it comes to health
care, sometimes you need more than just a general practitioner to help you feel
your best. To help you figure out whom you should see and when, KNOWAtlanta
checked in with some health care specialists who practice in the area. A number
of providers, from cardiologists to pediatricians, agreed to being poked and
prodded for a change to fill you in on what you need to know about Atlanta’s
health care specialists.
Regardless of your age or health status, your heart is an organ that you shouldn’t
neglect. The Piedmont Heart Institute of Piedmont Hospital is consistently rated
in the top 10 percent nationally, and is one of the city’s best resources
for those seeking a cardiologist. Dr. Sara Mobasseri, a non-invasive cardiologist
at Piedmont, believes in the power of prevention when it comes to taking care
of your heart. She recommends that anyone with a family history of heart disease
should make it a priority to visit a cardiologist. “Usually your primary
care or internist acts as a gatekeeper who will determine the need for a scheduled
visit with a cardiologist,” she says. Staying on top of heart health is
especially important for women. “As a physician and a mother myself, I
know that women typically are busy taking care of spouses, children, parents,”
says Mobasseri. “They’re the last ones to take care of themselves.”
Once a patient has been referred to a Piedmont cardiologist, the doctors on
staff work hard to ensure he or she understands every step of the process, from
reviewing charts to explaining a diagnosis. Mobasseri says that because patients
are often overwhelmed when they are in the hospital, she likes to sit down with
them in her office to explain diagnoses and treatments. “I try to use
layman’s terms as much as possible,” she says. “[People are]
more likely to follow your recommendations if you explain things and make them
part of the decision-making process.”
“[We] are very good at taking them through every step that we do,”
agrees Dr. Dimitri Karmpoliotis, an interventional cardiologist at Piedmont.
“We can tell them the probability of success or complication. The team
approach has made us extremely successful.” Karmpoliotis’ specialty
is the complex chronic total occlusion (CTO), which encompasses some of the
most challenging and under-treated cardiac cases. He and a team of five other
physicians are trained in the newest techniques, and have presented cases at
meetings and given lectures to other cardiologists all over the world.
Because pediatricians are trained to deal with the needs of children from infancy
through the age of 18, including all stages of development, it’s important
to find one that’s right for your family. “The best recommendation
is one that comes from someone you know and trust,” explains Dr. James
Fortenberry, pediatrician-in-chief at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
He also recommends that parents try to set up a time to meet with a pediatrician
to discuss child-rearing philosophies and other important issues. Pediatricians
are trained to deal with everything from immunizations to the development of
good health habits and behavioral issues that may arise during adolescence.
Within the field of pediatrics, there are also pediatric subspecialties, like
pediatric cardiology or pediatric orthopedics. According to Fortenberry, Atlanta
has one of the largest concentrations of pediatric subspecialists in the country,
so you can rest assured that your family will be in good hands.
As in other areas of medicine, communication is an important part of establishing
a healthy relationship between doctors and patients. This can be challenging
in pediatrics, because the patients are often not old enough to understand the
necessity of different treatments. “Until a child reaches the late teen
years, you’re really communicating with the parents and helping them understand
the importance of certain health measures,” says Fortenberry. “We
have great pediatricians in Atlanta who are able to handle that,” he adds.
“If you don’t make parents comfortable and reassured with the plan,
then they’re not going to feel that they’re in the right place.
At the same time, if the child doesn’t feel comfortable or recognized,
then the parents aren’t going to feel comfortable with the care, either.”
Those who play sports, particularly at the college or professional level, are
probably well acquainted with an orthopedist. Dr. Stan Dysart, an Atlanta orthopedist
who practices at WellStar Kennestone Hospital, says that other patients can
also benefit from their expertise. As a joint replacement specialist, Dysart
is the team physician for the Atlanta Beat, a professional women’s soccer
team, and all of the Kennesaw State University athletic programs. “If
you play volleyball and hurt your shoulder, come see us. If you’re typing
for a long time and your wrist hurts, come see us,” he says. He also recommends
that individuals who are thinking about starting any kind of sports program
receive a full musculoskeletal evaluation.
When it comes to communicating with patients, Dysart makes sure that he uses
layman’s terms to explain both the physiology of the affected area and
any necessary procedures. “I’ll explain to them why a certain procedure
is important and how it’s going to help them,” he says. This is
critical because, from the patient’s perspective, “If I don’t
understand what they’re saying, I can’t participate in my own care;
if I can’t participate in my own care, I can’t get better,”
according to Dysart.
Like many other medical fields, prevention, healthy diet and exercise are important
in orthopedics. “I ask patients if they are doing their daily FARE,”
says Dysart. FARE stands for flexibility, aerobics, resistance/strength training
and equilibrium/balance training. It also refers to a healthy diet, which is
essential in maintaining bone health. Dysart also works with the staff of nutritionists,
dieticians and trainers at WellStar to ensure his patients have all the resources
they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Regardless of whether you encounter any health issues, or just have questions
that are better answered by a specialist, Atlanta has the health care provider
who can help you and your family live a healthy life.