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AdventHealth Brings Advanced Otolaryngology Services to Northwest Georgia
The head and neck account for a small percentage of the human body’s mass, but the functions they perform are among the most vital. So, when specific areas like the ears, nose and throat are compromised by outside threats — whether it’s a common cold, sleep apnea or something as serious as a cancerous growth — receiving specialized treatment is of the utmost importance.
Fortunately for residents of Northwest Georgia, such care is closer to home than ever, thanks to the addition of a full line of otolaryngology services at AdventHealth Medical Group Ear, Nose and Throat at Calhoun. The clinic, which opened in October 2022, is staffed with a full-time otolaryngologist and a nurse practitioner with state-of-the-art technology at their disposal. AdventHealth Ear, Nose and Throat at Calhoun has brought a commonly accessed field of medical practice back to the region.
“We perform a wide range of general ENT procedures, such as tonsillectomies and adenectomies,” said Sally Smalley, MD, who began working at the clinic following a career in the United States Army. “We also perform surgery on sinuses, thyroids and lymph nodes as well as dilation of eustachian tubes, both in-office and in the operating room.”
AdventHealth Ear, Nose and Throat at Calhoun treats the following conditions:
- Chronic ear infections
- Facial plastics
- Head and neck cancer
- Head and neck masses
- Hearing loss
- Nasal congestion
- Pediatric ENT conditions
- Sleep apnea and snoring
- Swallowing and voice disorders
- Thyroid and parathyroid issues
- Tonsil and adenoid problems
- Other procedures and treatments of the head, neck and throat
Calhoun resident Barry Roberts was one of the early beneficiaries of the clinic’s services. He had been experiencing increasing lethargy for more than a year, and after breaking a hip last September, Roberts found himself unable to recover his previous energy levels, despite the success of his physical therapy regimen. His primary care physician referred him to Dr. Smalley, who performed an upper GI endoscopy and a biopsy in December.
“They found a growth next to my larynx,” Roberts said. “It was cancer.”
Roberts’s team of providers, which included oncologist Mayur Mody, MD, of AdventHealth Medical Group Hematology Oncology at Calhoun, and radiation oncologist William Tong, MD, of AdventHealth Harris Radiation Therapy Center, started him on a series of radiation treatments, and less than halfway through the prescribed course, he was already noticing his energy returning.
“I visited my daughter in Florida for a week and never got tired,” he said. “My energy was stronger than it was before I found out about the cancer.”
When his radiation treatments are completed, Roberts will return to Dr. Smalley for a follow-up endoscopy. Based on his initial interactions, he knows he’ll be in good hands during that next visit.
“Her staff is, without a doubt, upbeat,” the 74-year-old recalled. “When I go in, they treat me like I’m kin to them. They treat me like a person instead of a patient. I have nothing but the highest accolades for them. Dr. Smalley tells it like it is, and I like that.”
AdventHealth Medical Group Ear, Nose and Throat at Calhoun offers several procedures geared toward improving patients’ nasal breathing, including surgery to correct snoring and sleep apnea.
One of the tools assisting Dr. Smalley and her team is the Inspire implant, an FDA-approved device with a strong track record of addressing the root cause of such breathing problems without the use of CPAP equipment.
“The device is implanted in the chest with a battery pack, similar to a pacemaker,” Dr. Smalley explained. “A wire from the implant runs up the neck and to a nerve in the tongue. A small electric current stimulates the tongue to move forward during sleep, clearing the airway. In many cases, we’re able to get patients off their CPAP machines.”
According to research conducted by Inspire’s manufacturer, 90 percent of users’ bed partners reported either the elimination of snoring or soft snoring only. Overall, patients say the implant led to a 79-percent reduction in sleep apnea events, and 94 percent of them say that Inspire yielded better results than CPAP technology and that they would recommend the implant to their friends.
Another tool Dr. Smalley has found valuable is the PTeyeTM system, a probe-based technology that helps surgeons identify parathyroid tissue during thyroid and parathyroid surgeries. Parathyroid tissue can be difficult to distinguish from surrounding healthy tissue, but the PTeyeTM system uses a laser probe to elicit a fluorescent response in parathyroid tissue in real-time.
“AdventHealth has given me state-of-the-art equipment,” Dr. Smalley said. “Another example is that I have some of the best scoping equipment you’ll see in any ENT department.”
Assisting Dr. Smalley at the clinic is Cinthia Cox, NP-C. As a certified nurse practitioner, Cox can treat many cases directly, including pediatric tonsillitis and ear infections. She joined the staff in February 2023, having worked the previous seven years with another primary care clinic within AdventHealth Medical Group.
“There has been a huge need for these types of services in Gordon and Murray Counties,” Cox said. “Most of our patients were having to drive to Atlanta for ENT care, so I’m looking forward to serving them locally. I’m especially looking forward to taking care of the kids.”
She added that she appreciates working within the AdventHealth system.
“At AdventHealth, we can pray with patients; we’re encouraged to. I feel as if we’re held to a different standard,” she said. “You have to be good at what you do, but you must also be compassionate toward your patients.”