In the News

Palliative Care Offers Quality-of-Life for Those with a Serious Illness

Affinity Clinic and Tift Regional Health System (TRHS) are now offering a palliative care program which provides specialized care for patients with serious illnesses such as cancer, congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“Many people associate palliative care solely with hospice care,” said palliative care medical director Marcus Roberts, M.D. “Both palliative care and hospice care provide comfort; but, palliative care can begin at diagnosis, and at the same time, as treatment. Hospice care begins after treatment of the disease is stopped and when it is clear that the person is not going to survive the illness. Hospice care is usually offered only when the person is expected to live six months or less. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.”

Dr. Roberts said palliative care is emerging as an important treatment option in this changing healthcare landscape. “With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, new healthcare models are being implemented,” he said. “Palliative care is recognized as enhancing medical care quality while reducing costs.”

Palliative care is specialized medical care that utilizes an interdisciplinary team approach to address a patient’s physical, emotional and spiritual health. The team includes a physician, nurse practitioner, registered nurses, social workers and chaplains. Dr. Roberts and the palliative care team work together with the patient’s physicians to provide an extra layer of support as well as to enhance quality of life and maintain function.

“We spend time communicating deeply with patients and family members,” said Dr. Roberts. “We give patients control over their care by truly exploring goals and helping them to understand treatment options. We help patients gain the strength to carry on with daily life and improve quality of life.”

Dr. Roberts provides outpatient palliative care at Affinity Clinic and is available for inpatient consultations at Tift Regional Medical Center. He also works with Hospice of Tift Area on home visits for hospice patients.

Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover palliative care. “If costs concern a patient, a social worker or financial consultant from the palliative care team can provide assistance,” said Dr. Roberts.

Affinity Clinic, a part of Tift Regional Physician Group, is a multi-specialty practice located in Tifton at 2225 Highway 41 North. Tift Regional Medical Center is located in Tifton at 901 East 18th Street. To receive palliative care, a referral from a physician or advanced practice provider is required. Referrals can be made by calling 229-391-4426. Visit for more information.


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Affinity Clinic Adds Second Interventional Cardiologist

The Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) Heart and Vascular Center welcomes new interventional cardiologist Anthony Burke, DO, FACC, FASNC. Dr. Burke will work alongside Dr. Paul Murray, Dr. William Hancock, Dr. Jonathan Tronolone, Dr. Joseph Turner and Dr. William Kaiser in providing cardiovascular services for patients. Dr. Burke will perform procedures at the TRMC Heart and Vascular Center and conduct evaluations, office-based treatments and follow-up exams at Affinity Clinic.

Dr. Burke diagnoses and treats heart conditions including coronary artery disease, abnormal rhythms (arrhythmia), valve problems, congestive heart failure and more. As an interventional cardiologist, he provides general cardiology services but also specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions using minimally invasive techniques often involving catheters, which are small, flexible tubes inserted into the body. The catheter is carefully threaded into the heart using an x-ray machine that produces real-time images, known as fluoroscopy. Once the catheter is in place, contrast material is injected and images of the heart are obtained.

Angioplasty, also known as percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA), is a procedure in which a narrowed section of a coronary artery is widened with a balloon catheter. In most cases, a stent is placed at the same time. With these techniques, Dr. Burke can often achieve results similar to those of more invasive methods like open surgery, while minimizing pain, recovery time and complications.

With the addition of Dr. Burke, TRMC now has three interventional cardiologists, one invasive cardiologist, one vascular surgeon and an internist who interprets cardiac studies.

“I’m excited to have joined this growing program,” said Dr. Burke. “I look forward to serving patients here in South Central Georgia. TRMC has an impressive heart and vascular facility with the latest technology and a great team of cardiovascular professionals.”

Board certified in cardiology, Dr. Burke earned his medical degree from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed an internal medicine residency at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa. He followed with a cardiovascular disease fellowship and an interventional cardiology fellowship at Oklahoma State University Medical Center in Tulsa, Okla. Prior to joining Affinity Clinic, Dr. Burke practiced cardiology in Tulsa, Okla. and Augusta, Ga.

For more information or to make an appointment or referral, please call 229-391-4100. Affinity Clinic, a part of Tift Regional Physician Group, is located in Tifton at 2225 Highway 41 North.

Check out the Top 10 Reasons You May Want to See a Cardiologist

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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March 2, 2017 by Molly Huff

Did you know that colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States? Colorectal cancer affects people from all ethnic and racial backgrounds and is most often found in people age 50 and up. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and Affinity Health Clinic would like to give you some information on prevention and early detection. If you feel you need to see one of the gastroenterologists at Affinity or if it is time for your scheduled screening, please contact us and our Affinity Gastroenterology department. 

Colorectal Cancer Prevention:

  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes, at least five days a week.
  • Maintain healthy weight.
  • Don't smoke. If you do smoke, quit now.
  • If you drink alcohol, have no more than one drink per day if you're a woman or two drinks a day if you're a man.
  • Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Eat less red meat and cut out processed meat.

Colorectal Cancer Early Detection - If you're at average risk for colorectal cancer, start your screenings at age 50. If you're at higher risk (due to family history, lifestyle or other factors), you may need to start regular screenings at an earlier age. If you're older than 75, ask your doctor if you should continue to be screened. The best time to get screened is before you have any symptoms.

Tests that find pre-cancer and cancer:

  • Colonoscopy - Every 10 years
  • Virtual colonoscopy - Every 5 years
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy - Every 5 years
  • Double-contrast barium enema - Every 5 years

Tests that mainly find cancer:

  • Stool occult blood test (FOBT) - Every year
  • Stool immunochemical test (FIT) - Every year
  • Stool DNA test (sDNA) - Ask your health care professional because technology is evolving.

Early stages of colorectal cancer don't usually have symptoms, so stay on top of your scheduled screenings. Affinity's gastroenterologists perform all colorectal cancer screenings and you can make an appointment with us today. The chances of beating colorectal cancer when finding it in Stage 1 are 74%. Know the facts and stay healthy!

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Affinity Clinic, a multi-specialty clinic, provides adult and pediatric patients across South Georgia with medical care in a variety of areas including Cardiology, Family Practice, Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Pediatric & Adolescent MedicinePulmonary Medicine & Critical Care, and Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The Aesthetic Center at Affinity offers patients the latest in medical grade skin care. From microdermabrasion and vein treatment to laser hair removal, photofacials, BOTOX and more our certified laser assistant and licensed skin specialist provides patients with personal attention and quality care.