Neurosurgeon Enhances Access to Care in South Georgia

“It’s not brain surgery,” joked Dr. Kimberly Mackey during an interview at South Georgia Medical Center. But, actually, it is… Dr. Mackey is a double-board certified neurosurgeon in adult and pediatric neurosurgery who joined the medical staff of SGMC this month.

With intentions of becoming a plastic surgeon, Dr. Mackey attended medical school at the University of Chicago. However, it was a neurosurgeon she met along the way that gave her the extra encouragement she needed to explore neurosurgery instead.

After medical school, she attended the University of Pittsburgh to complete her residency. Dr. Mackey said it was an absolute dream, as the neurosurgeons at that institution were some of the best in the world. During much of her training, she was the only woman in the neurosurgery program, and today that trend continues with less than 10% of board certified neurosurgeons being female.

After a successful residency, Dr. Mackey transitioned to the University of Tennessee in Memphis where she completed her fellowship program at LeBonheur and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, focusing on pediatric neurosurgery and brain tumors.

After graduation, she accepted her first job at the University of New Mexico as an assistant professor in neurosurgery and the first pediatric fellowship trained neurosurgeon in the state. It is there she met her husband, Ben, an HH-60 helicopter pilot and member of the Air Force rescue community. The couple later moved to Virginia, where she served patients in private practice.

In speaking with Dr. Mackey, it is evident that she has a love for helping people.

“When I’m operating or treating a patient, I see more than a brain or tumor,” she said. “I see a person.”
Dr. Mackey shared that she takes the art of neurosurgical care very seriously.

Dr. Mackey has always been drawn to international work and believes outreach and medical service are important both at home and throughout the world. Since medical school, she’s traveled to India, Uganda, and Kenya to serve in medical surgical capacities.

“Through this outreach, I believe physicians can be great ambassadors of our hometowns and country,” she said.
Aside from being a neurosurgeon, she is the proud mother of a 2-year-old son, Michael.
Dr. Mackey never envisioned starting a practice in Valdosta, Georgia, but there were many factors that made the move attractive to her.

“I wanted to be somewhere that my skillset could truly make a difference,” she said. “SGMC made me feel like I was already part of their community. I felt valued and not like just another cog in the medical wheel.”

She continues to express the importance of not having to travel for this type of specialty care.

“Not only is it critical for patients needing neurosurgical care to receive it quickly, but being closer to home reduces the mental and financial stress of traveling for everyone involved,” she said.

Now living in Valdosta, Dr. Mackey will see patients at SGMC and at her practice, SGMC Neurosurgery. Her husband serves as a director of operations at Moody Air Force Base. In her spare time, Dr. Mackey and her family enjoy spending time with their horses, Bama and Bo Jackson. She assured us the names were not college football related.

Help us welcome Dr. Kimberly Mackey to the region. For more information, visit http://www.sgmc.org/neurosurgery.

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