Jan. 19, 2016
       Tifton, Georgia

   (478) 227-7126


Tifton Grapevine

Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) has had 11 confirmed flu cases this season, but outbreaks of influenza both locally and statewide have been relatively few, health  officials  say.

Of the 11 cases that TRMC has seen, e ight were treated and released in the emergency room, and three have been admitted to the hospital. TRMC said the caseload so far this season has been mild compared to previous years, but the hospital cautions that the season is not over yet.
"Historically, February is the worst month for flu," says Mary Key, RN, TRMC infection preventionist. "So, it is definitely not too late to get a flu vaccine. Also, good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu."

The South Health District in the Georgia  Department of Public Health tells the Tifton Grapevine that "influenza is not reportable to public health" offices. However, the number of "influenza-like symptoms gives us a better understanding into the flu season," says Courtney Shealey with the South Health District.

The state public health department reports that the flu season has been "very quiet" so far.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease  Control  and Prevention in Atlanta, influenza in Georgia and Florida have been sporadic this season. As of last week, the CDC reports there were no confirmed cases of the flu in Alabama.

Tift Regional Medical Center offers tips on preventing the flu:
  • Avoid close contact
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Stay home when you are sick
If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick. Don't visit people in the hospital if you are not feeling well. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.  
  • Clean your hands
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.


The Walmart Neighborhood Market in Ashburn is among  269 stores that Walmart will close in 2016 as the retailer faces unprecedented losses. Shares of Walmart stock fell 30 percent last year.

The company said the stores  being  closed are generally poor performers, with 154 of them in the United States; others are in Latin AmericaAbout two-thirds of the U.S. stores being shuttered are smaller "Walmart Express" stores. Twelve Walmart Supercenters will close, along with four Sam's Clubs

The Ashburn store has been opened only about a year and will close on  Jan. 28. It is one of seven Walmart sites being closed in  Georgia. The others are in Pelham, Lakeland, Pearson, Alma, Ellaville and Donalsonville.

Walmart officials said 16,000 employees will be affected worldwide -- 10,000 in the United States. The company said it hopes to place them in nearby Walmarts. If it can't, then those employees will get  60 days of pay and resume/interview skills training, the retailer said.

Mary Lee Johnson-Green speaks of issues in the past, advances in the present and hopes for the future.

Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Tifton had several events to observe the day in remembrance of the slain civil rights leader.
Tift County Commissioner Melissa Hughes, left, and Tifton Mayor Julie Smith at MLK Day.

A capacity crowd of nearly 300 gathered for a breakfast at the Leroy Rogers Senior Center. Guest speaker was Mary Lee Johnson-Green, Turner County clerk of court.

The breakfast was followed by a commemorative service at Springfield Missionary Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, and then a parade to the Tift County Courthouse.

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State Rep. Penny Houston, R-Nashville, who  represents  part of Tift County, poses with Miss America 2016, Betty Cantrell of Warner Robins, as she visited the Georgia House of Representatives last week. By the way, Miss America is the one on the left.
Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) received special accreditations from the American College of Surgeons (ACoS) for its oncology center and breast health program as well as the American College of Radiology (ACR) for being designated as a center of excellence in low-dose CT lung cancer screenings.
The Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the ACoS granted Three-Year Accreditation with Commendation to the TRMC Anita Stewart Oncology Center.  To earn voluntary CoC accreditation, a cancer program must meet or exceed 34 CoC quality care standards, be evaluated every three years through a survey process, and maintain levels of excellence in the delivery of comprehensive patient-centered care. Three-Year Accreditation with Commendation is only awarded to a facility that exceeds standard requirements at the time of its triennial survey. 
"Because it is a CoC-accredited cancer center, the Anita Stewart Oncology Center takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists, and other cancer specialists," said William T. Richardson, President/CEO of Tift Regional Health System. "This multidisciplinary partnership results in improved patient care."  
In addition, TRMC's Tift Comprehensive Breast Center was granted a three-year/full accreditation designation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a program administered by the ACoS.  Accreditation by the NAPBC is only given to those centers that have voluntarily committed to provide the highest level of quality breast care and that undergo a rigorous evaluation process and review of their performance.  
"During the survey process, the center must demonstrate compliance with standards established by the NAPBC for treating women who are diagnosed with the full spectrum of breast disease," said Dr. Joel Johnson, Medical Director of the Tift Comprehensive Breast Center.   

"The standards include proficiency in the areas of center leadership, clinical management, research, community outreach, professional education, and quality improvement. A breast center that achieves NAPBC accreditation has demonstrated a firm commitment to offer its patients every significant advantage in their battle against breast disease."
The NAPBC is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to the improvement of the quality of care and monitoring of outcomes of patients with diseases of the breast. This mission is pursued through standard-setting, scientific validation, and patient and professional education. Its board membership includes professionals from 20 national organizations that reflect the full spectrum of breast care. 
TRMC has also earned accreditation as an ACR Designated Lung Cancer Center of Excellence, which recognizes facilities committed to providing quality screening care to patients at the highest risk for lung cancer. Facilities applying for designation must have an active ACR computed tomography (CT) scan accreditation in the chest module, as well as meet specific equipment, personnel and imaging protocol requirements. TRMC is one of only two hospitals south of Macon with this accreditation. 
"Lung cancer screening with the use of low-dose CT, along with appropriate follow-up care, significantly reduces lung cancer deaths and is cost effective compared to other major cancer screening programs," said Dr. Apurva Shah, Medical Director of Medical Oncology/Hematology at the Anita Stewart Oncology Center.  "We are proud to have earned this special center-of-excellence accreditation and designation."
The ACR is one of the largest and most influential medical associations in the United States. The ACR devotes its resources to making imaging and radiation therapy safe, effective and accessible to those who need it. Its 36,000 members include radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists, interventional radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians.
"We would not be able to reach these distinctions without the hard work and skills of our physicians, nurses, technicians, therapists and support staff," said Richardson. "Quality, safety and comfort for all patients is our top priority."
Visit for more information on the TRMC Anita Stewart Oncology Center, Tift Comprehensive Breast Center and low-dose CT lung cancer screening program.


The  Tifton Rhythm & Ribs Festival has announced the band lineup for this year's festival on Saturday, March 5, at Fulwood Park

The Larry Keel Experience, Col. Bruce Hampton & the Madrid Express, and Sweet Tea Trio are co-headliners for 2016.

Support sets will be from Travis Pratt, Booze Mountaineers, Beau + Luci, Royal & Toulouse and Danny Dawson

The  free  entertainment will be from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Organizers are still accepting competition BBQ teams and vendors. The Grand Champion will win $3,500; Reserve Champion gets $2,000prize money is also awarded for additional places.

For information, visit


Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College's Virtuoso Chamber Music Series continues tonight, Jan. 19, with a  performance by pianist  Jasmin Arakawa at  7 p.m. in  Howard Auditorium on the ABAC Campus.
The concert is presented free and is funded by the Stafford Fine Arts Endowment.

Arakawa has performed widely in North, Central, and South America, Europe, and Japan. Described by critics as a "lyrical" pianist with "impeccable technique," she has been heard in prestigious venues worldwide including Carnegie Hall, Salle Gaveau (Paris), and Victoria Hall (Geneva). 

Born in Japan, Jasmin is a graduate of Tokyo University of the Arts, where she studied with Shigeru Maruyama and Katsumi Ueda. She holds doctor of music and master of music degrees from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

The Chamber Music Series is designed to promote an appreciation for fine solo piano and chamber music. The series features skilled artists drawn from   outstanding regional and national professional artists.


"Choc-It-Up for Literacy," the Literacy Volunteers of Tifton-Tift County's premier chocolate tasting event, is back for its fourth annual February observance at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2, at the Hilton Garden Inn. 

Not only will participants sample fabulous chocolate desserts and vote for their favorites, but also they may bid for a relaxing mountain vacation to Dahlonega, among other exciting treasures. 

The event will showcase up to 10 local vendors and their chocolate creations. Each vendor will creatively display their chocolate dessert with samples for party-goers to taste. Merrymakers may sip milk, coffee, wine or champagne while voting on Best Taste, Best Presentation, and Best in Show.

"It's a great way to kick off the month of love with an elegant date night with your special love, your best friend, or your family," said board member Liz Carson Keith

Tickets are $10 each and entitle the bearer to tastes of all the chocolate samples plus beverage. Children are free.  

"If you have always yearned for the incredible chocolate dessert from your favorite restaurant, now you have no excuses," Keith said. "You can feel good about indulging, because it is helping people better their lives."
"Choc-It-Up 2016 will benefit programs that Literacy Volunteers sponsors," explained Sharonda Murphy-Henton, LV president. LVTTC helps adults improve their reading and math skills and prepare for the GED test. It also has scholarships to help eligible students pay for GED test fees. In addition, LV offers twice-weekly English language classes at Our Divine Savior Catholic Church twice each week. 

"Whenever we are able to help a student increase his or her educational level, we benefit our community," Keith said. "Each person who gets a GED credential can continue with job training at Southern Regional Tech or ABAC. This enriches us all."

For information on Choc-It-Up for Literacy, contact Literacy Volunteers at  229-391-2527 or email


Welcoming new officers for 2016 was the highlight of the Wiregrass Quilters Guild (WQG) meeting in Fitzgerald on Jan. 14. Jane Rodgers of Fitzgerald, center, was installed as president. Other officers, from left, are Rilett Lhamon of Albany, president elect; Caroline Benefield of Tifton, treasurer; Rae Elder of Fitzgerald, secretary; and Margo Martin of Tifton, immediate past president. The next WQG meeting will be in Tifton at 6 p.m. Feb. 11 at  Peace Lutheran Church, 604 Tennessee Drive. Newcomers and guests are welcome.

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