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October 14, 2015

Dr. Haley's photo

Dr. Jim Haley has just finished a morning performing surgeries in the O.R., and is headed into a full afternoon schedule of patients. Chatting as the interview begins, he mentions that when the weekend comes, he’ll be participating in his first Obstacle Race – a run in which he will face mud pits, barb wire, and ice baths.

“I guess I’ve always been drawn to action,” Dr. Haley smiles, “life and death drama. From the time I was 13 or 14, it seemed to me I was supposed to be a doctor. I figured maybe surgery or E.R. medicine. But when I got to medical school and delivered my first baby, I knew right then I wanted to be an obstetrician.

“I don’t remember this, but after that first delivery, my wife Lisa tells the story of me coming home just laughing off and on all night – because it was SO COOL. I’d never experienced anything like that before!

“I’m drawn to challenges. There’s a lot of challenges to being an obstetrician – the training, being on call, the long hours, and dealing with such an important part of peoples’ lives. But it seems like the challenges drive me in life – physical challenges, too.

Dr. Haley's photo“Over the years I’ve been in 7 marathons, 1 ultra marathon, 15 triathlons, and 1 Iron Man. (An Iron Man is a Triathlon in which the participant swims 2.4 miles, runs 26, and bikes 112.)

Recently, Dr. Haley also became one of the select number of Georgia OB/GYN’s to be board-certified in the subspecialty of FPMRS, Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. He says simply, “I like to go after things that are hard to do.”Dr. Haley's photo

What experiences have shaped you as a doctor?
“One great memory about being an OB was getting to deliver my two children. And it made me laugh, too. I’d delivered lots of babies and watched them being taken to the nursery afterward. But I noticed that this delivery was different: they weren’t taking this one away. They were leaving him in the room. And I had to laugh when I realized that was because he was mine.

Dr. Haley's family photo“But something that had a big impact on me was that Lisa and I had two miscarriages – I think this was God’s way of helping me be empathetic about the pain my patients feel when they lose a baby.”

Do you have a philosophy about practicing medicine?
Dr. Haley mentions his faith directly and without self-consciousness. “I think of being a doctor as my calling. I love the Lord, I love my family, I love my wife Lisa. As a Christian, we are called to serve and help others – this is the calling God has designated for me, and how I can do that.”Dr. Haley's photo

Click here to learn more about Dr. Haley, and to watch his interview.

FUN FACTS about Dr. Haley

Top Doctor
Dr. Haley was named “Patient’s Pick Top Doctor” for favorite Gynecologist in Cobb County by Atlanta Magazine in 2012.

Iron Man
Dr. Haley’s done 7 marathons, 1 ultra marathon, 15 triathlons, and 1 Iron Man. (Swim 2.4 miles, run 26 miles, bike 112 miles.)

2New Orleans Boy
Dr. Haley lived in New Orleans for 22 years before becoming a Georgian, with two brothers still there. During Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Haley’s mother, age 91, came to live in Rome, Georgia – and is still there!

September 22, 2015

by Dr. Michael Litrel, FACOG, FPMRS

Our Vaginal Rejuvenation patients continue to be extremely happy with their results, whether they’ve received their surgery in the hospital or as an in-office procedure.

Patient Testimonial
“Dr. Litrel performed my vaginoplasty and he’s simply amazing! I feel absolutely wonderful and have done nothing but brag about him and his staff. I highly recommend your office. I was expecting more pain and downtime but I feel great! I sit at a desk all day and I’m going to work today. No pain meds for 24 hours. I had contacted another doctor’s office in your area prior to contacting you. I received your email response right away and it just felt right! From the time I first got in contact with your office, things fell into place and went so smoothly! I’ve never experienced this kind of excellent service at any doctor’s office I’ve ever been to. I was treated with such amazing courtesy and respect. I could not be happier with the care I received.” Juana L.

With all the discussions surrounding vaginal rejuvenation, many women considering the procedure may still find themselves with questions about it. This is completely normal, as vaginal rejuvenation is surgery, and should be treated as such. Here’s a look at three of the most common questions patients ask about the vaginal rejuvenation procedure.

Am I a Good Candidate?
Following vaginal births, women lose the strength and elasticity in the vaginal and perinatal area. These post-delivery complications can include urinary incontinence, pelvic or rectal prolapse, or loosened elasticity of the labia (the inner and outer vaginal lips) that may cause discomfort during physical activities. All of the above complications can benefit from the repairing and tightening of the vaginal tissue.

How Should I Prepare?
If you’ve made the decision that vaginal rejuvenation surgery is something you want to have done, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to do your research. Find a specialist who is trained in Female Pelvic Reconstructive surgery, not just a plastic surgeon who claims they can perform the procedure to make sex more enjoyable.

At your pre-surgery consultation, be ready with questions. Ask your surgeon about how long the surgery will last, what types of incisions will be performed, and if your surgery is considered a medically necessary procedure, find out about what insurance will and won’t cover.

What Can I Expect Post-Surgery?
The first 24-48 hours, patients can use ice packs to reduce the swelling. Routine everyday activity is permitted, and wearing loose clothing is highly recommended. You will be able to resume showering after the surgery, but use a soft washcloth and be careful not to scrub the incision areas. You will also need to avoid baths, pools, and hot tubs for four weeks post-surgery. Most patients can return to work after a week, unless the nature of your work involves strenuous activity.

For most women, the $10,000 question after having vaginal rejuvenation surgery is “When can I have intercourse again?” This, of course, is dependent on the procedure and how well you take care of yourself afterwards. Most patients can resume intercourse within 8 weeks depending upon the complexity of their surgery.

To schedule a consultation about vaginal rejuvenation surgery, please call our female representative on her private and confidential line at 770-720-7733 ext. 2232, or contact us here.

September 8, 2015

Chief Ultrasonographer Brenda Peters

Seeing the Mother-Baby Story

Brenda Peters is our Chief Ultrasonographer here at Cherokee Women’s Health. We sat down and asked her a few questions to learn more about her and why she chose this profession.

Question: What led you to become an ultrasonographer?

Brenda:  I come from a really big blended family – seven sisters and four brothers! When I got out of high school, I joined the Air Force so the GI bill could pay for my college. I’ve always been a math and science geek, so my work in the Air Force was electrical instrumentation, using transducers and acquiring data.

But I was lonely! I realized I’m really a people person, too. I saw that becoming an ultrasonographer would give me a chance to combine my technical side with helping people every day.

Question: What is your typical work day?

Brenda: A lot of women are pretty scared and nervous when they come in. I try to make it easy for them to be here. I pay a lot of attention to what I say, and how I say it – because that becomes part of their experience and their memories.  I LOVE our patients – when the moms come in for child #2, #3, we really have a relationship. For one of our patients, I‘ve done the ultrasounds for all FIVE of her children. I realized after I was here a few years and people started telling me their stories, that I was a part of their story, too. That is the special part of this job. I love it.

chief ultrasonographer brenda peters

Question: Do you have a motherhood story, too?

Brenda: You know, I didn’t come to parenthood the usual way. When I began working at Cherokee Women’s, I had been on a rough road for many years, trying to become a mother. Then RIGHT after I came, I found out I could adopt Samantha. Her birth mother was 20 weeks pregnant. It’s like the practice had hired a pregnant woman. I’ll never forget how kind everyone was to me, even throwing me a shower when I went out on maternity leave.

This was a really important experience coming here. I think part of my work is giving our patients hope. I like to tell them my story. I say, “If you’re determined to be a mom, you will find a way.”

Note: Under Brenda’s leadership, Cherokee Women’s has earned a spot on the select list of practices fully accredited by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine for Obstetric and Gynecologic ultrasound. Brenda graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York with a Bachelor of Science degree from the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program with High Honors in 2000. Brenda is also certified in Nuchal Translucencey and is registered in OB/GYN by ARDMS (American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography).

FUN FACTS about Brenda

Air Force Technician, Warm and Fuzzy
Brenda became an instrumentation tech with the Air Force – where she figured out she didn’t want to work just with technology!  She has a people side, too: afterward, Brenda earned her BS in Ultrasonography.

Seven Sisters and the Hubble Telescope Connection
Brenda comes from a family of 7 girls and 4 boys – all math and science types! “Five of my sisters are in nursing, and one is an accountant. We like science,” Brenda says. As a matter of fact, her father was the engineer for the mirror glass on the Hubble Telescope!

chief ultrasonographer brenda petersRoughing It – On a Mountain Bike!
On weekends, Brenda gets muddy with her daughter Samantha on the Blankets Creek Mountain Bike Trail!

 

August 20, 2015

by Peahen Gandhi, MD, FACOG, FPMRS

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It, Is To Recover ‘That’ Sensation.
As a gynecologist, my mission is to manage the entire spectrum of women’s health issues. Including…that, ummm, embarrassing topic of sexual functional concerns. Patients trust me enough to discuss even the most intimate of topics. It doesn’t hurt that I too, am a woman, able to understand both the physical and emotional elements of this sensitive subject.

In an abstract published by the International Continence Society, 48% of women reported concerns regarding “looseness of the vagina.” The medical term for this symptom is Vaginal Laxity Syndrome or “VLS.” Often women say to me, “things are different ‘down there.’ I mean, I think things are ‘loose.’ Is that why sex is not the same?”

Symptoms of Vaginal Laxity Syndrome
VLS most often occurs as a result of childbirth (in vaginal births), but also occurs as women age due to decreased levels of collagen. Almost 50 to 75% of women experience significant vaginal laxity after menopause due to a loss of estrogen’s protective effect on the vaginal muscles.

Symptoms of Vaginal Laxity Syndrome include:
• Decreased sensation during intercourse
• Difficulty holding urine
• Decreased resilience of the vaginal walls. (You can test this at home by trying this quick test: If you are able to insert three or more fingers simultaneously into your vagina without significant resistance of your vaginal walls, chances are you have a loose vagina.)

These symptoms lead to other difficulties, including difficulty achieving orgasm, as well as decreased sexual satisfaction. Many women are embarrassed or scared to discuss this issue with their partners.

Cherokee Women’s Offers Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatments
My physician colleagues and I at Cherokee Women’s Health are able to offer patients non-surgical and surgical options for VLS. We counsel patients first on the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle, such as maintaining a healthy weight, performing pelvic floor exercises like Kegels, and treating vaginal dryness or thinning in postmenopausal women. Once we learn more about your lifestyle and needs, we can recommend a treatment that works best for you.
Surgical and cosmetic procedures are available to restore the strength and resilience of vaginal tissue. They include vaginoplasty, perineoplasty, and labiaplasty. These vaginal rejuvenation procedures should be performed by board certified Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery physicians (known as FPMRS). Those of us with the training and expertise to perform these procedures counsel patients on the potential risks and benefits. In fact, an article published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine from 2010 suggested that combining multiple female genital cosmetic surgeries improved the success rate up to 91.2% (even in severe cases).

Thermiva, a Less Invasive Alternative Treatment
A procedure called Thermiva offers women a less invasive alternative treatment for VLS. The Thermiva procedure increases sensitivity and strengthens muscular contractions, leading to greater sexual satisfaction for women and their partners. It is also effective in helping reduce vaginal dryness and urinary leakage episodes. The painless, in-office procedure takes twenty minutes to perform and yields immediate results. It works by inducing collagen tissue remodeling and rebuilding at a cellular level. Using radiofrequency thermal energy, Thermiva increases the number and strength of active collagen fibers that are present.

Knowing that there are a number of treatment options available is important because it allows doctors to individualize the care for each patient. Working together, doctors and patients are able to meet the expectations set forth, while reducing potential side effects or long-term complications. If you’re interested in discussing the Thermiva procedure with me or one of our other skilled physicians, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.

August 4, 2015


Dr. Hale talks about what inspired her to become an OB/GYN and what she feels is important in life.

Dr. Hale arrives with a glowing smile for her interview at the bakery Smallcakes, where she orders a gluten-free cupcake. She’s brought a colorful journal, a Whitney English Day Designer, the cover of which says “Life + Business + Creativity.” A glance at the pages reveals Dr. Hale’s closely written thoughts and ideas.

Question: When did you know you wanted to be a doctor? What was your inspiration?
Dr. Hale: My mom tells the story that when I was a young child, I said to her doctor, “When I grow up, I want to be a “obb-ta-trishun.”

I’ve always felt called to be a healer. My life took many turns, but eventually I ended up pursuing a combined MD/MPH (Masters in Public Health) degree at St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies. I did half my clinical rotations in the United Kingdom and half in the U.S. I particularly enjoyed the U.K. Obstetric rotation where I primarily trained under midwives. I believe that influenced how I approach birth today.

Question: That’s so interesting, because I’ve heard you’re called “a gifted surgeon,” yet you have this streak that takes you into more holistic approaches. What got you started studying plant-based nutrition?
Dr. Hale: It was partly for myself. As a young woman I suffered with horrendous periods. My cycles had been controlled with oral contraceptives, however after getting married I began to research more natural solutions for menstrual health. I had a great deal of success with following a whole food plant-based diet. My experience motivated me to obtain more formal nutrition training to better equip patients to transform their health through diet.

Dr. Hale recently earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

Dr. Hale recently earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

Question: That’s a beautiful journal. What can you tell us about it?
Dr. Hale: This journal is really about working out who you are – what you believe, your values, and how you bring it into your life, day to day. When you’re on purpose, it reflects in the gifts you bring to your work and the people around you. For me, it’s very important that my purpose, my faith, my family, and my work all align. And that I communicate that in my words and actions. “Breathe in love, breathe out life”

An original personal motto Dr. Hale has posted in her office

An original personal motto Dr. Hale has posted in her office

 

Click here to learn more about Dr. Hale’s experience and credentials.

July 29, 2015

by Peahen Gandhi, MD, FACOG, FPMRS


Our approach to Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS) is three-fold:

1) Restore Function
2) Enhance Appearance
3) Protect Anatomy

This is the treatment approach which guides our clinical procedural offerings. Gynecologists are experts in vulvovaginal surgery and CWHS is at the forefront of the latest techniques used to help patients achieve their pelvic health goals.

Thus, the procedures address these three facets:

1)  We Restore Function by addressing anterior and posterior compartment defects, like cystoceles and rectoceles, by offering anterior and posterior colporrhaphy, as well as full-length vaginoplasty, allowing improved sexual function as well. In addition, many patients have had severe obstetric lacerations, like third or fourth degree tears, and we perform revisions of proctoepisiotomies. Stress urinary incontinence is treated using a single-incision sling procedure.

2)  We Enhance Appearance by removing excess skin of the labia minora and labia majora through labiaplasty procedures, including a number of different techniques, so that we can achieve each patient’s individual cosmetic goals. In addition, we are experts at perineoplasty also called, perineorrhaphy, which aims to make the perineum appear normal by excising excess skin, loose skin tags, and suturing the underlying muscles of the perineal body closer, to give a more snug feeling in the introitus or vaginal opening. Some women are interested in fully restoring pre-coital appearance and we achieve this with an additional procedure called a hymenoplasty.

3)  We Protect Anatomy by offering our patients individualized non-surgical treatments like incision-less office based procedures for vaginal laxity and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy via vaginal and transdermal routes. Following surgery, patients are given nutritional support services through micronutrient testing (Spectrocell) and undergo pelvic physical therapy via our women’s allied health professionals.

Thus, a summary list of procedures:

*Full-length Vaginoplasty to provide a higher level of tightening
*Incision-less office treatment for improving vaginal tone and lubrication
*Labiaplasty
*Labia Majora reduction
*Perineoplasty
*Hymenoplasty
*Proctoepisiotomy revisions
*Anterior and posterior colporrhaphy to treat cystocele and rectoceles (site-specific and augmented repair techniques)
*Single-incision midurethral slings
*Bioidentical hormone replacement/nutritional support/pelvic physical therapy

NOTE: Dr. Peahen Gandhi and her colleagues Dr. Michael Litrel and Dr. James Haley are sub-specialty board certified in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS).

 

July 8, 2015

Get to know Dr. Peahen Gandhi, a board-certified OB/GYN physician here at Cherokee Women’s Health, on a more personal level. Read below to learn what inspired her to become a doctor and what she believes is important in life.

gandhi-spotlight-flyer_nletter

What inspired you to become a doctor?
“Of course there’s those heroic stories about Dr. Barnard performing the first successful heart transplant…but the source of my inspiration was more special. I had the example of ambition personified – my late Grandfather. Orphaned when he was just a young boy, he worked without pity on himself. He was engaged always in achievement, not fear of failure. I loved this about him. And I knew I was his favorite. I listened to his stories and he believed in my dreams. It was a symbiotic relationship. No doubts, no uncertainty ever entered our minds when we conversed. I learned from his experience and he inspired me to create my own. His sacrifice, allowing my parents and me to leave him in India and emigrate to the United States, was immense. Every summer when we went back to India after moving to Amanda, Ohio, he would have a “medical gift” for me. One summer it was a stethoscope, another it was a tuning fork. I still have the old copy of Gray’s Anatomy he found for me. I knew he cared. I knew he wanted to keep up the consistent encouragement. For that, I am indebted to him.

Who were your mentors along your medical journey?
“Well, having the calling to become a doctor is just the first step. Getting into the field is another story. You need an advocate who know the ins and outs. You need someone who will encourage you, when you think you can’t possibly make it. Chances seemed slim for a girl from the small town of Amanda, Ohio. Dr. Keith Krantz, the Director of the Hosier Scholarship Program, never saw me that way. To him, I was a real contender. I still remember when I got my first medical school acceptance letter and Dr. Krantz said to me “you got one in the bag, kiddo!” Dr. Krantz then awarded me the Dr. R. S. Hosler Memorial Educational Fund Scholarship. At the time, I think I was the only person from my high school who was awarded the honor. It not only gave me a sense of accomplishment, but the financial support of the scholarship allowed me to realize my dream of becoming a doctor. It has been four years since he passed, and even though I can no longer walk into his office and get my weekly pep-talk, I know he is giving me the “’ol kiddo” smile as I put on my white coat.

Do you have a philosophy about life or medicine?
Mahatma Gandhi said “Simple living, high thinking.” I think it’s important to spend time every day with the people you love. I keep my life simple, in that I focus on family when I’m home. My parents live with my husband and me, and we are surrounded with aunts, uncles, cousins, multiple generations, almost 30 people. We usually just get together at my house a few times a month and play cards and eat great Indian food! I think most people think I am an extrovert, but really I am kind of shy, unless I really know a person.

Fun Facts
~ Dr. Gandhi had a traditional Indian marriage in her father’s home village of Umreth in India. It lasted 10 days!
~ Dr. Gandhi believes in the strength of family: “Surrounding yourself with the people you love makes you a loving person.”
~ A family project – the restaurant Bello Italian in Cumming is owned by Dr. Gandhi’s brother, Paril.
Dr. Gandhi quips, “Most people think my brother has an Indian restaurant but I just laugh and say…actually it’s great rustic Italian food! I feel so fortunate to live in America, where anything is possible.”

 

 

 

July 2, 2015

Hannah with her sons and Aunt Cindy

Hannah is a young mother we’re spotlighting this month to help educate teens about the challenges of teen pregnancy. We had a little Q&A session with Hannah in which she shared her experiences as a teen mom.

Can you tell us what it was like becoming pregnant as a teen?
I was in high school when I became pregnant so that in itself was difficult. I basically skipped my childhood so that was hard, especially when my friends were enjoying a regular teenage life. But everything had changed and nothing was more important than my baby so I knew I had to take it seriously and behave responsibly.

How did you handle school?
I stayed in school for the first four months of my pregnancy. After that, I took online classes. When I returned to high school about a year later, I was dual enrolled and took classes at Gainesville State as well, where I graduated with honors.

From there, I went to college at North Georgia and then transferred to Brenau University, where I entered their nursing program. I also graduated with honors from there and now have my bachelor’s degree in nursing.

What motivated you?
My son was my biggest motivation. I wanted to give him a better life. I also wanted to prove to myself that I wasn’t going to be a statistic. Getting pregnant in high school meant facing a lot of judgment and criticism. I was told I wouldn’t amount to anything and that I wouldn’t even graduate high school. For me, regardless of my circumstances, my dreams were more important and I didn’t want to give up on them.

How did you handle child care?
I had an excellent support system. My parents were especially wonderful. They helped watch my son while I was in school or had to study. Without them, I don’t know where I would be. My grandparents and family friends also helped care for my son. Having a strong support system definitely played a huge role in my success.

How has your life changed since then?
There have been so many changes. I got married last May and gave birth to my second child in March of this year.

In regards to my career, I’ll be working as a nurse at the Ronnie Green Heart Center of Northeast Georgia. I worked there as a nurse extern in the cardiac Intensive Care Unit during my last year in college and upon completion, they offered me a position.

What would you like pregnant teens to know?
I want them to know that their life is not over. That there’s still hope for a bright future. And even though they’ll probably be told they can’t make it, it’s simply not true. Even when the judgment seems unbearable at times, they just have to push through. It’s not easy but they can do it. After all, if I can become a success story, anyone can.

 

 

 

June 4, 2015

Father’s Day is June 21st and we’re honoring dads by holding a fun Daddy and Me Photo Contest on our Facebook page! Submit your favorite Daddy and Me photos for a chance to win 1 of 5 Lowe’s gift cards, each valued at $50!

The contest starts June 16th and will run through June 23rd so start gathering those pics now!

daddy-and-me-contest-postcard_lg

June 2, 2015

Up Close and Personal with Dr. Crigler

A near tragedy in Dr. Crigler’s life helped lead him to become a doctor. “When I was seven, I was involved in a car accident with my father and grandmother. I was injured quite badly and needed almost 100 stitches for my wounds. But the most significant thing was that I had an out of body experience. I actually saw myself from the outside, outside of my body. I think this was one of the factors that made the experience so intense, and made an impression on me how on important it is to care for the body.”

Medicine was also in Dr. Crigler’s blood, with a father physician in family practice, and a mother who was a pediatric intensive care nurse. And it was in medical school that Dr. Crigler met his future wife Lauren. “Lauren and I met in Gross Anatomy. Our cadavers happened to be right next to each other. When people ask how we met, we like to joke that Lauren was attracted to me because I looked better than the dead guy on the table.”

Dr. Crigler states that he enjoys laparoscopic surgery and the precision it demands, but that caring for his obstetrics patients continues to be a unique source of joy. He recalls the first ultrasound he performed on a woman who had spent years trying to get pregnant. “When we saw the baby on Doppler, I will never forget how she looked – it was like a light lit up her face.”

crigler-spotlight-flyerTo schedule an appointment with Dr. Crigler, please visit Cherokee Women’s Health or call 770.720.7733.

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“Dr. Litrel was a fantastic doctor. I had my first exam with him, although at first I was skeptical about a male doctor for my GYN. But after I met him I’m glad I kept an open mind, and I couldn’t have dreamed up a better doctor. He cares about you as a person and not just a patient. The front desk ladies and nurses were very friendly and it’s a great office, very clean and not intimidating. I highly recommend Cherokee Women’s Health.”
– Vicki