Moments Matter

We want you to be around to make many more.

Confidence in your heart care provider is important, and at SGMC Health, we believe you deserve the best care available—in prevention, treatment, and long-term care; at home, and at the hospital. 

In just a few short years, we’ve drastically raised the level of healthcare available becoming South Georgia's most comprehensive program, offering open heart surgery, a structural valve center, and cardiac electrophysiology services. 

According to the American Heart Association, here are things you can do to lower your risk of heart disease.
  • Treat high blood pressure.
  • Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet that’s low in saturated and trans fats, sodium (salt), and added sugars.
  • Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week – an average of just 21 minutes a day.
  • Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
  • See your doctor for regular check-ups.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed.

The best way to prevent potential heart issues is to learn the risk factors and know where you stand. 

Heart Health Edition "Walk with a Doc"

Join us for a special Heart Health edition of our "Walk with a Doc" program in honor of Heart Month. The event will feature a short presentation from one of SGMC Health’s heart care experts and a few heart-healthy laps around the track.

  • Saturday, February 24
  • 9:00 - 10:00 am
  • Valdosta Middle School Track, 110 Burton St.

This initiative is a fun and safe place to get some exercise, interact with medical professionals in a casual environment, improve your health, and meet new friends. The event is FREE and all are welcome! Registrants will receive a free t-shirt while supplies last.

Remarkable People.

SGMC Cardiology

SGMC CardioVascular Institute

Extraordinary Care.

Patient Stories

Real stories from our doctors and patients of how our team cares for you and your heart.

Rita Watters

Rita Watters

When 67-year-old Rita Watters began feeling tired all the time, she knew something was not right. Usually on the go, she began having no energy to do daily tasks. After only 5 minutes of doing something simple, she needed to sit down and catch her breath.

Rita admits that sometimes she hesitates to go to the doctor in the hope that things improve on their own. In this situation, things weren't improving.

"I have to be really feeling bad to go to the doctor," she shares. But when her concerning symptoms continued, she knew it was important to be evaluated. She made an appointment with her primary care physician, who then gave her a referral to SGMC Cardiology.

Rita had her initial appointment with cardiologist Michael Anigbogu, MD, to discuss her symptoms. He ran a series of tests to pinpoint the issue within her heart. An echocardiogram identified a dysfunctional aortic valve.

With this diagnosis, Dr. Anigbogu believed Rita was a candidate for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and referred Rita to SGMC's Structural Heart Clinic.

At her first appointment with cardiothoracic surgeon Randall Brown, MD, the team discussed TAVR, a minimally invasive procedure that would replace Rita's aortic valve without the need for open heart surgery. 

They described the benefits of TAVR, including a less invasive procedure resulting in smaller incisions, less time spent in the hospital and overall faster recovery following aortic valve replacement.  She took their advice and went ahead with the surgery.  Interventional cardiologist Luke Seibolt, MD, performed the surgery alongside Dr. Brown and a team of surgical and imaging specialists.

The surgery was successful, and Rita stayed one night in the hospital to be monitored. The next morning, she was up and walking around. She ate breakfast, sat up in a chair, and was discharged home by lunchtime. 

Once she got home, Rita spent most of that first day sleeping. The next day, she felt relief. 

"I could tell immediately that I wasn't as tired, and I didn't even need to use any pain medicine during recovery."

She was up and walking around, but she made sure to follow the doctor's orders to not lift anything more than 5 pounds for the first two weeks. She jokes that she used that excuse to get out of doing laundry. 

"I didn't even feel like I had a major heart procedure," she shares. "If I had done open heart surgery, I would've had closer to 8 weeks of downtime."

Rita is grateful to be feeling back to her usual self, and she encourages anyone who may be having similar symptoms to seek care. 

"Don't wait. Go to the doctor," she says. "You know you best." 

Jimmie Luckey

Jimmie Luckey

In 2009, out of nowhere, Jimmie Luckey began having heart trouble. He was in his late 60s when he had a heart attack and received stents to open his arteries and supply his heart with oxygen-rich blood.

A few years later, he received "one of the best referrals he's ever had" in the form of Kamil Hanna, MD. His primary care provider recommended that he go see Dr. Hanna, Cardiac Electrophysiologist, who was then located in Albany, a 30-minute drive from Jimmie's home of Camilla.

Jimmie was experiencing shortness of breath and fatigue after doing the simplest of tasks, so he knew something was off.

He was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (Afib), which is a type of arrhythmia, or abnormal heartbeat. This kind of irregular, often rapid heart rate commonly causes poor blood flow. Dr. Hanna shared with him that patients with AFib have a five times greater risk of having a stroke.

To treat his condition, Jimmie was prescribed blood thinners to decrease his risk of developing a blood clot and underwent a cryo-ablation for his Afib.

Dr. Hanna then joined SGMC Health in January 2022 to begin its cardiac electrophysiology program. Jimmie quickly followed, now traveling nearly an hour and a half for his appointments.

In May 2023, SGMC Health began offering the Watchman procedure, a revolutionary implanted device that reduces the risk of stroke without the need for lifelong blood thinners. Dr. Hanna told Jimmie that he was an ideal candidate for the procedure.

Jimmie jumped at the opportunity to no longer need blood thinners. He was among the first group of patients to receive the Watchman at SGMC Health.

He went in for his surgery and went home the very next day. He had no after-effects and no downtime.

Now, at 83 years old, Jimmie enjoys his daily 2.5 mile walk around his neighborhood without feeling tired or out of breath. He even saw a welcome increase in his appetite following the procedure.

For anyone else who may be experiencing heart trouble, Jimmie advises them to take their health seriously, make an appointment, and follow through with what their doctors say.

"I have complete confidence in Dr. Hanna," he shared.


Randolph Bass

At 41 years old, Randolph Bass' life took an unexpected turn. He came to the emergency room at SGMC Health Main with flu-like symptoms, including trouble breathing. He tested positive for the flu. A week later, his symptoms had not improved, and he suspected something else was going on.

Randolph had experienced heart issues before when he was diagnosed with pericarditis, or inflammation of the lining around the heart. He went with his gut and called to make an appointment at SGMC Cardiology.

Interventional Cardiologist Edward Distler, DO, saw Randolph and ordered a series of tests on his heart. An ultrasound revealed that he had an aortic aneurysm, a bulge in the main artery carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body. He would need open-heart surgery.

"With open-heart surgery, sometimes you don't know what is truly going on until you're opened up," said Randolph. Cardiothoracic Surgeon Randy Brown, MD, discovered a multitude of issues once the surgery began. What was planned as a 3-hour surgery turned into 8 hours. The cardiac team removed a cyst, replaced the aorta, replaced the valve in Randolph's heart, and resected part of his lung, which they described as "5 surgeries in one." 

"Dr. Brown was a great surgeon and was not going to stop until he was finished," said Randolph. "I also appreciate how the care team kept my parents updated every step of the way as the surgery developed into something more serious." 


Randolph spent nearly 5 weeks recovering in the hospital following his extensive surgery. He made sure to follow the instructions of the nurses and doctors facilitating his recovery.

His goal was to work hard during the recovery period to be home for the holidays. That is exactly what he did.  

"Right after surgery they want you on your feet and moving," he shared. "By the third day, I was doing 4 laps around the floor of the hospital."

His mindset was that a few weeks of struggle was a blessing considering he could have had a very different outcome.

"Follow your doctor's orders," he shared. "They're telling you to do it for a reason, no matter how uncomfortable it is. Have an open mind, be positive, and know that the pain is temporary and will be over soon."

He was discharged home the day before Thanksgiving.

Randolph gave credit to the team at SGMC Health for the high level of care they provided every step of the way. "You have to be a special kind of person to do what those in the hospital do," he said. "I left there with new friends and family."

He also acknowledges that listening to his body and his intuition saved his life.

"It's a good thing that I kept going back and forth to the hospital to find out what was wrong," he said. "They told me my heart would've stopped in a year if I hadn't caught it." 

Top in the Region Nationally Recognized Cardiac Care

American Heart Association’s Gold Get With The Guidelines

American Heart Association’s Gold Get With The Guidelines®-Resuscitation Quality Achievement Award

Only hospital in the region Maintained since 2014

Recognizes commitment to treating in-hospital cardiac arrest, ultimately helping to improve patient survival rates.

AACVPR Program Certification logo

American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Certification

Maintained since 2008

Recognizes commitment to improving the quality of life by continuing to enhance standards of care in cardiac rehabilitation.


Intersocietal Accreditation Commission in Echocardiography in the area of Adult Transthoracic

Maintained since 2017

Recognizes intense compliance with the published standards thus demonstrating a commitment to quality patient care in echocardiography.


American College of Cardiology’s NCDR Chest Pain ̶ MI Registry Gold Performance Achievement Award

Only hospital in the region and among only eight in Georgia

Recognizes commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of care for heart attack patients.

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