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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Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Affinity Can Help

April 1, 2017 by Molly Huff

It's not a easy topic of conversation: Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. It's uncomfortable, can be painful, and let's face it - often embarrassing as well. But did you know that anywhere from 9% to 23% of the population have IBS? Yet many people remain undiagnosed and unaware that their symptoms actually can indicate a medically recognized disorder.

April is IBS Awareness Month, and during this time, Affinity would like to focus attention on important health messages about IBS diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life issues. Affinity's Gastroenterologists specialize in disorders of the digestive system which how IBS is defined, and we can help you not only decide if IBS is what you're dealing with, but also how to help you improve symptoms and feel better. 

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen. If pain is persistent and recurring, this could be a sign of IBS.
  • Changes in bowel habits. A change in frequency or consistency (diarrhea or constipation) can be signs of IBS and link to the abdominal pain.
  • Symptoms occur over a long term and come and go over time. Some of all of IBS symptoms can occur at the same time. Some symptoms may be worse than others. Cramping, sharp gas-like pains or even dull, modest pains can all point to IBS.

About 25% to 50% of persons treated for IBS also report:

  • Heartburn
  • Early feeling of fullness
  • Nausea
  • Bloating

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and feel that IBS may be the culprit, contact Affinity's Gastroenterology department. Affinity's three gastroenterologists: Dr. George Yared and Dr. Riaz Gill can help with the diagnosis of IBS or other digestive disorders and can help you resolve and improve your issues to regain your quality of life.  Call Affinity today to make an appointment.

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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.