Spotlight on Laurie Faircloth

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Laurie FairclothLaurie Faircloth, RN, is Georgia Neurosurgical Institute’s (GNI) longest serving employee, having been with the practice longer than even our most senior surgeons. Since her hiring in May 1979, Laurie has witnessed the growth and change of not only GNI and Navicent Health Medical Center, but also in medical diagnostics, training, and the standard of medical care itself.

Laurie was originally hired as a registered nurse for former GNI President, Hugh F. Smisson, Jr. At the time, GNI was located at the corner of Hemlock and First Streets. As the practice experienced steady growth and more help was needed, Georgia Neurosurgical’s current president, Dr. Joe Sam Robinson, Jr., joined the endeavor in 1981. In the words of Laurie, Dr. Robinson brought “a touch of Harvard to Macon, Georgia.” Dr. Kim Johnston was added to the group soon after, and both he and Dr. Robinson found themselves the sole providers of neurosurgical care at The Medical Center of Central Georgia, as it was called in those days. Laurie worked with the two doctors as they alternated each night saving patients.

Dr. Hugh F. Smisson, III, followed his father’s footsteps into the neurosurgical field and joined GNI in 1983. In 1994, Laurie also worked with Dr. Arthur Grigorian for six months while he served as a clinical fellow with GNI prior to the completion of his residency and vascular fellowship. He subsequently returned to become GNI’s Neurovascular specialist. Lastly, she welcomed GNI’s most recent addition, Dr. Richard Rowe, when he came onboard in 2009. Still, today Laurie awaits the opportunity to initiate new surgeons into the world of Middle Georgia neurosurgery.

Throughout her years as a registered nurse at GNI, Laurie has amassed numerous accomplishments, both professionally and privately. Laurie is a graduate of the last class of the Medical Center of Central Georgia’s School of Nursing. She created the Registered Nurse Extender position at Navicent Health, molding and shaping the job into what it is today. She has guided countless future doctors through their neurosurgical training and rotations at Navicent, and she was the first in Georgia to receive certification in Advanced Trauma Care for Registered Nurses. Laurie has learned and adapted to four decades of technological advancements including minimally invasive robotic surgery, endoscopic surgery, and the introduction of the first MRI machine in the Navicent Health Medical Center, just to name a few.

At Navicent, the staff of the neurosurgical floor has bestowed on Laurie the title of “Liaison” and “Gatekeeper” for the GNI doctors, patients, and Navicent medical departments.  She prides herself most in her patient care by prioritizing patients’ needs through advocacy.  Her goal is to ensure that all get the treatment they deserve in the most efficient and compassionate way possible. In her private life, Laurie has raised four children and has – in her words – “a dozen or so” grandchildren.  She is a Master Body Builder and Power Lifter.

Laurie Faircloth is a credit to Georgia Neurosurgical. She sets the standard of devotion and passion for all of the previous, current, and future GNI staff. In the closing words of her speech given at Georgia Neurosurgical Institute’s 60th Anniversary Gala, Laurie described how she views her lifetime of professional achievement at GNI: “This practice has enjoyed a long voyage. Sometimes the seas were turbulent, sometimes smooth as glass. The ship has been well-manned. The sails are full, and I am truly blessed to have been along for the ride.”

From GNI’s perspective, we can only add how incredibly grateful we are that Laurie has been at the right-hand side of the wheel for so many wonderful years. Thank you, Laurie, for all that you have done to better healthcare for nearly four decades!


Highlighting GNI’s Neuropsychological Services

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neuropsychologySomething unique about Georgia Neurosurgical Institute is our neuropsychological service. We believe in a holistic approach that treats the entire person rather than just the physical issues which are treated by surgery. Our psychological and neuropsychological services are overseen by Dr. Leon Hyer, who has been with GNI for over 10 years. In addition to his work GNI, Dr. Hyer serves as a Professor of Psychiatry at the Mercer School of Medicine where he teaches geriatric fellows and medical students, and serves as a consultant in the Clinical Medical Psychology PhD program.

Degenerative Diseases

Dr. Hyer focuses a great deal on testing and evaluating neurological degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Lewy Body Disease, and Parkinson’s. We provide special care for people at risk for these degenerative diseases, which can be noticed earlier through cognitive, behavioral, and functional problems. Additionally, GNI participates in dementia research and runs a free Memory Clinic, led by Dr. Hyer.

Chronic Pain

One of the primary specialties of GNI’s surgeons is spinal surgery. Issues of the spine can lead to significant chronic pain, which Dr. Hyer deals with. There are several pain models which are applied, such as biofeedback, mindfulness, and newer coping mechanisms. Dr. Hyer provides pre-screening and evaluation testing for those suffering from chronic pain.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Because GNI all neurosurgical trauma for Navicent Health Center, our surgeons handle numerous traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases. TBI patients require follow-up care, such as post concussive evaluations to assure healing. These evaluations and other necessary psychological assessments are overseen by Dr. Hyer. Similar care is also provided for patients with other types of brain injuries, such as those suffering from cerebral vascular accidents, strokes, brain tumors, aneurysms, and subarachnoid hemorrhages. No matter the condition, each patient is assessed carefully and efficiently.

Additionally, Dr. Hyer addresses those suffering from Adult ADD as well as well as bariatric surgery candidates. This holistic treatment has been hugely beneficial to GNI and, most importantly, to our many patients!

If you’re dealing with brain, spine, or nerve issues, call GNI today at 478-743-7092!

minimally invasive surgery

The Benefits of Minimally Invasive Surgery

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Something that sets Georgia Neurosurgical Institute apart in Middle Georgia is our ability to constantly stay at the minimally invasive surgeryforefront of medical techniques and procedures. One area of medicine that GNI has led the way in is minimally invasive surgery. The use of minimally invasive procedures is a specialty of our surgeons and can be very beneficial to patients.

Are you experiencing brain, neck, spine, or nerves? Call GNI at 478-743-7092!

The benefits of minimally invasive surgery and techniques are numerous, including:

Increased Safety

One of the primary aspects of minimally invasive surgery is the fact that the incisions are much smaller. Smaller incisions mean far less trauma to the organs, muscles, and surrounding tissue, as well as less potential blood loss.

Decreased Pain & Scarring

These smaller incisions not only increase the safety for the patient – they also significantly decrease the pain and scarring following the procedure. Because these techniques cause less trauma to the surrounding parts of the body, there is far less pain. The incisions are much smaller and less jagged than in traditional surgery, so they heal more efficiently and are less noticeable.

More Accuracy

Procedures performed during minimally invasive surgery at GNI include the use of microscopic video cameras with the smaller incisions. These cameras are used to access the deep areas needing treatment and provide increased visibility, meaning the procedure is more accurate.

Shorter Hospital Stay & Quicker Recovery

Our goal at GNI is to not only allow patients a short hospital stay, but for their re-cooperation to take place in the comfort of their own home. Because the risk of adverse reactions is higher with general anesthesia, our outpatient surgery center makes use of local anesthesia to decrease this risk. We want to help you return to your daily life as quickly as possible. Recover from traditional surgery can sometimes take as much as eight weeks. Recover from minimally invasive surgery can take a fraction of the time.


Our expert physicians are ready to help you with minimally invasive surgery. Call us at 478-743-7092.


Meet Your GNI Physician: Dr. Joe Sam Robinson, Jr.

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Dr. Joe Sam Robinson, Jr. is no stranger to the Middle Georgia area. Macon born and raised, he has served the people of Georgia for over 35 years. Using his wide array of skill and knowledge, Dr. Robinson has also developed national and international neurosurgical research so more doctors and neurosurgeons can better understand the brain.

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Dr. Robinson Speaks at the Navicent Health Press Conference

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Georgia Neurosurgical Institute and Navicent Health recently held a press conference celebrating their recognition as Georgia’s only ACS Verified Level 1 Trauma Center. Representing GNI at this event was Dr. Joe Sam Robinson, a founding member of Georgia’s Trauma Commission.

Dr. Robinson began by thanking the attendees and other members of the Trauma Commission for their work and patience in working with the doctors during traumatic situations.

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Living With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects millions of Americans every year. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is squeezed in the wrist. The median nerve controls the sensations of the thumb and fingers, not including the pinky, on the palm side and it runs from forearm to hand. The compression of this nerve can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in the hand and arm.

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Before Surgery: How to Prepare For Your Procedure

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The notion of having surgery can be a frightening one – especially surgery relating to your brain or spine. However, it’s important to understand that the chances of complications for most brain surgeries are low. When you have a surgical procedure with Georgia Neurosurgical Institute, you can be sure that you’re in the hands of the most skilled neurosurgeons in the Southeast.

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