December 2015

Memorial Health Legacy Center: Collaborative Care at the Heart of the Matter

Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

In this time of media- and money-driven medical marketplaces and with new drugs gaining FDA approval daily, medical conditions, illnesses, or injuries can seem overwhelming as insurance and coverage questions flummox and befuddle both patients and physicians. The doctors at Memorial Health’s Legacy Center in Okatie cut through the fog of treatment questions and coverages with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, placing their focus right at the heart of the matter: the appointment, where the real work of getting better takes place.

Time spent perched on the edge of an exam table waiting for face-time with your physician can be thought-provoking. The doctors at Legacy Center hope those thoughts center on getting well—the very reason these experts get up and come to work. For doctors Price Williamson, Aquino, and Kyle, the physician-patient relationship is like a funnel: What goes in the wide end as options and information, ideally distills down to a personal, responsive, and effective collaboration, supported by the resources of Memorial Health of Savannah.

Legacy Center is home to Joanne Price Williamson, M.D., FACOG, certified in obstetrics and gynecology, and internists LuAnn Aquino, M.D., PH. D and William Kyle, D.O., along with a rotation of other Memorial Health physicians specializing in surgery, high-risk pregnancy, breast cancer and gynecologic cancer. If hospitalization is needed, patients of Legacy Center have the option of where that happens, Kyle said. “People can choose whatever hospital they want and are followed by a hospitalist when in the hospital. Legacy Center doctors receive the hospital discharge notices, and the records are sent directly to the doctor so that by the time the patient is ready for follow-up care, the doctor has the records.”

A member of the Legacy Center team since it opened in 2010, Price Williamson and nurse practitioner Rana Hildebrandt see patients of all ages, treating all aspects of obstetrics and gynecology from pregnancy and births, to hormone replacement therapy. “We’re spending a lot of time helping reassure people that hormone replacement is actually of benefit to their health. We’re using a lot more hormone replacements, because studies are showing that, for a lot of women, there are some big benefits and minimal risks; but that’s not exactly what’s been played out in the media,” she said. Memorial Health’s app, MyChart, allows patients to e-mail non-urgent medical questions, effectively engaging patients in a new way,” Price Williamson said. “A good patient advocates for themselves, and communicates with their physician. MyChart makes it easier for me to know what’s going on with them.”

A resident of Bluffton for eight years, Price Williamson and her husband Ryan are raising five-year-old triplets, along with launching his soon-to-open restaurant in downtown Bluffton called FARM, where organic produce will be featured, harvested from their own small working farm. She values the community she is building, both with her family and with her patients. “It’s so nice to see families grow and see women grow up, and see babies grow up,” she said. “If I can make people more comfortable; if I can help them understand their bodies a little better; if I can help them understand how they can take care of themselves a little better; and do it in a really comfortable environment where people don’t feel scared or intimidated, I think that’s a good thing.”

Pictured From Left to right: Dr. Joanne Price Williamson, Dr. William Kyle and Dr. Luann Aquino

Aquino and registered nurse Pat DeReamer have been seeing patients together since 2004 when Aquino began private practice on Hilton Head Island. Building strong, trusting relationships with her patients, she has grown a practice based on sound medical care, a serious dose of compassion, faith, and a bit of humor. “When they’re ill or they are in the hospital, I stay in touch with them,” Aquino said. “We grieve when they lose a loved one, or we lose a loved patient. We’ve done it a little different than a lot of other doctors. A lot of my patients have my cell phone number. Some of them have multiple medical problems; and if they get in trouble, I’d rather be the one to take care of them. My nurse has been with me the whole time. When they talk to her, it’s like they’re talking to me. They know that and have confidence in her.”

Along with being a big fan of beach walks, Aquino and her sixteen-year-old daughter are involved in their church community, which significantly informs the foundation of her practice. “I think faith is very important when you practice medicine. It reflects how you treat your patient and how you see things. We talk about a lot of things when we’re in the room.”

Joining Legacy Center in March of 2014, Kyle sees his medical degree from a college of osteopathic medicine as an extra tool for his practice, “Osteopathy views the whole person, incorporating spirituality and whole body well-being, not just treating symptoms,” he said.

After a grueling rotation as a hospitalist and in urgent care, Kyle has found outpatient medicine a rewarding fit. “A good patient is open minded, considers all options of treatment, and is willing to take the advice of their physician. It’s nice doing outpatient medicine, because you have the continuity of care with people; that brings the biggest satisfaction. Seeing the same people and seeing their progress—developing that personal relationship on top of not only seeing the progress, but treating the disease.”

A Chicago native, Kyle and his wife Tiffany moved to the area with their three young children to be closer to her family on St. Simons Island, where they own a condo and spend time about once a month. Tiffany, a former collegiate gymnast has recently returned to the sport, starting a gymnastics program at a local cheerleading facility, Kyle said.

Perched on the edge of an examination table, the gown may be a bit too revealing, the lights a little too glaring, and the atmosphere distinctly sterile; however, this is where the real work of getting well begins for Drs. Price Williamson, Aquino, and Kyle. Getting to the heart of the matter, the physicians at Legacy Center are committed to treating patients competently, compassionately, and with a whole lot of personal care. 

Legacy Center is located at 14 Okatie Center Boulevard, Suite 101, Okatie. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (843) 836-3800 or for Drs. Aquino and Kyle visit, or for Dr. Price Williamson visit or call (912) 350-5937.

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