Southern Healthcare Alliance of Valdosta, Georgia, has welcomed a new member to their team. Dr. Robert Kirtley decided to leave active duty and settle down in one area after 10 years of service in the military, something that also provided him with special training that sets him apart from the rest.
Kirtley, 46, attended Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and then carried out his residency in the military at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland. While he initially trained in radiology, Kirtley had additional training and worked as an aerospace medicine flight surgeon and later did another three years of training in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
“I had advanced training in imaging, and that is why I practiced a little bit differently than other doctors – because of that background in radiology and background in physical medicine,” he said.
Despite all those years having the opportunity to learn that specialized training in active duty, Kirtley ultimately had to make the decision to leave. The major factor for him was his family.
“I have a 5-year-old son, and we were getting moved every two to three years, and I liked my son to be able to settle down and stay in one location,” he said. “He is about to start school, so it was the right time for my family to settle in one location. I enjoyed my dedicated service, but doing the right thing for my family is what drove that decision.”
During this time in his life, Kirtley interviewed all over the Southeast to find a job. He said most of them did not share his interest in patient care.
“Unfortunately, those (companies) are really focused on revenue generation and how many people you can see per day, whereas Southern Healthcare Alliance puts patients first,” he said. “And that is really what I was looking for: someone that cares about outcomes and cares about taking care of the patient first.
“I have longer visits here. I am able to listen to my patients and do a physical and imaging. It really suited my practice style, and (Southern Healthcare Alliance’s) philosophy aligned with my philosophy.”
Kirtley explained that because of his time in the military he was trained to get injured soldiers back to duty as fast as possible. He said that typically a physician sees a patient for only a few minutes – maybe gets a history, maybe performs a physical exam – and then the patient is sent out for imaging. Southern Healthcare Alliance has a different view.
“Here, we are incorporating that same history, a good detailed physical exam, and we also have a state-of-the-art Samsung high resolution ultrasound where I do the imaging of the body all in the same visit,” Kirtley said. “Sometimes I even do image-guided intervention in the same visit.”
Because he can take his time with patients, Kirtley is able to give them the attention and care they need to feel better.
“We typically see a patient every 30 minutes, sometimes even longer, as long as 45 minutes,” he said. “I’ll do patient evaluation, imaging, discussing those results, and a lot of the time people walk out feeling much better. It can be from eight to 12 people a day.”
Kirtley has such a passion for his work because it is constantly offering something new and innovative as medicine adapts with new technology.
“There are exciting changes taking place in medicine today including the incorporation of ultrasound imaging in diagnosis, ultrasound guided treatments and the utilization of regenerative medicine, aka, orthobiologics.”
Kirtley believes that Southern Healthcare Alliance also helps reduce the ever-growing opioid crisis that faces the nation as a whole.
“My goal is to reveal the true underlying pathology and treat it instead of prescribing a medication that you need over and over,” he said. “We want to find and treat that underlying problem whether that be with a traditional steroid or an orthobiologic like a true autologous stem cell product from your bone marrow.”
Not only that, Southern Healthcare Alliance isn’t afraid of trying new ways of treating patients through cost-effective procedures. Kirtley explained a new innovative procedure that they offer for the treatment of a common ailment, carpal tunnel syndrome. We provide a minimally invasive ultrasound guided release surgery that resolves carpal tunnel syndrome without a scar. Patients are back to using their hand the next day rather than a month or longer as is typical with traditional carpal tunnel surgery.
“They were really open to the new cutting edge technologies we were utilizing in the military and were supportive to bring these new treatments to Valdosta. We are offering treatments not available locally!” he said.
Kirtley is able to explore how far his field of medicine can go with Southern Healthcare Alliance. Whether it’s to have the opportunities to meet with patients longer or using innovative technologies to advance their quality of life without the use of addictive narcotics, Kirtley believes success can be found here.
“There are many treatments on the horizon and currently in development,” he said. “Fortunately, my years in the military allowed my research and exposure to trials that would have been too cost prohibitive in the civilian sector. As a result of the research and trials I participated in, I now have real treatments and techniques that work effectively. That’s why I’m excited!”
Business Hours and Information:
Monday-Thursday 8:45 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Friday 8:45 a.m. – Noon
Address: 3790-B Old Highway 41 N., Valdosta GA 31602
Phone: (229) 262-1981
Written by: Alex Dunn
Photography by: Eric Vinson