COVINGTON, Ga. - Piedmont Newton Hospital's CEO, Dr. Eric Bour, will trade in his suit for a white coat as he announces his return to the operating room to specialize in breast and general surgery.
Dr. Bour, who has more than 25 years of operating experience, said he has dedicated the last two years to making sure the hospital was in a good place and is now excited to incorporate his surgical practice back into the mix.
"It's the right time," he said. "I think we've got things kind of humming along here after two years. We're in a good place from the perspective of Piedmont and how Newton fits into the whole Piedmont culture and the Piedmont system and it just seemed like it was a good time to give back in a different way."
Dr. Bour finished his training 26 years ago at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and continued on to his first position, which focused on critical care, trauma and general surgery. He then went to the University of South Carolina, where one of his responsibilities was leading the breast cancer care clinic.
"That's where my passion for breast surgery sort of started," he said. "It was something we were exposed to when we training, but it was not really that in-depth exposure to it like it is when you're running a clinic."
Dr. Bour then went into private practice in Greenville, South Carolina and noticed a gap in breast care in the area.
"There was a breast surgeon in town. She was a great surgeon, but it was about six weeks to get in to see her and we realized that was a need and a niche that needed to be filled," he said. "Our practice adopted the philosophy that we would see those patients that day or the next day - whatever was the most convenient for them."
Dr. Bour said there is a different type of care that is required when working with breast cancer patients.
"You can tell a guy he's got a hernia, and he's like 'Yeah, whatever, I'll go get seen in three months' ... but a woman with a breast problem and you start telling her it is an abnormal mammogram and six weeks until a visit, there's a lot of emotion around that," he said.
The treatment for patients going through breast cancer requires a special relationship.
"You develop a bond with those patients that is very different than the bond you develop with a patient who is a general surgery patient," he said. "You know, I had my gallbladder out 10 or 15 years ago. I remember the surgeon who did it, only because it was someone I worked with, but I did not have a special bond with that surgeon. You ask most people who did your gallbladder and it is 'Oh, some guy over at Newton. I don't know who it was.' ... You ask someone who their breast surgeon is and they know the name. Even 15 years after I started, I was seeing those patients who I had seen probably 15 years before."
With the return to the operating room happening at the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Bour reminds patients to continue self-exams and annual mammograms.
"Patients know their own exams better than any physician does, so it is extremely important for women to do self-breast-examinations," he said. "The best time to do it is in the shower when there's soap and water and it is a much easier way to examine your own breasts. Women will find abnormalities much faster than any physician would."
Dr. Bour said breast cancer awareness should not be isolated to women, as anyone with breast tissue - men included - are susceptible to the disease.
"Oftentimes in men, because we don't do that type of exam, it is, unfortunately, many times a more advanced-staged disease in a male because it is not something you typically pay attention to as a man," he said. "The treatments are the same."
Anyone wishing to schedule a mammogram or discuss testing can contact the Women's Diagnostic Center at 770-385-7800.