Georgia State Chapter

Incorporated June 2009

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Mission Statement

To promote the interchange of ideas, information and experience among bariatric surgeons, to promote improved perioperative and long-term care of patients and reduce patient risk, and to encourage and foster education and educational programs for the physicians, lay people and paramedical persons involved in the care of bariatric surgical patients.

Executive Officers

President: Renee Hilton, MD FASMBS
Vice President: Jamil Stetler, MD FACS FASMBS
Past Presidents: Titus Duncan, MD; Danny Vaughn, MD; Shaneeta Johnson, MD FASMBS
Treasurer/Secretary: Oliver Whipple, MD
Executive Director: Kathryn Browning Integrated Health Chair: Maria Immonen, MSN RN CNL
STAR (State Access to Care Representative): Aaron Bolduc, MD
IH STAR (State Access to Care Representative): Maia Routly, DNP MA RN CPN EBP-C

Board Members

Elizabeth Hechenbleikner, MD
Fritz Jean-Pierre, MD
Robert Richard, MD
Paul Cartwright, MD


Kathryn Browning
1740 Hudson Bridge Road Suite 1224
Stockbridge, GA 30281

Chapter Meetings

  • Georgia State Chapter Meeting
    August 16, 2024
    King and Prince Beach Resort in St. Simons, Island, GA

Chapter Updates


  • The GA Chapter, building on its success to get bariatric surgery added to the State Health Benefit Plan, now seeks to get the benefit added for university employees.


  • ASMBS Georgia state chapter has been selected as the 2021-2022 ObesityPAC Award recipient.


  • Before the COVID pandemic was declared, the GA Chapter of the ASMBS in collaboration with the GA Chapter of the ACS, held Obesity Care Awareness Day at the Georgia Capitol.


  • Local surgeon is lobbying for state employee health benefits
  • The Georgia Chapter has been reorganized and revitalized in 2018-2019 with new bylaws adopted and entirely new slate of leaders elected. The first stand-alone chapter meeting was held on August 16, 2019. The Chapter secured an industry grant to get a website designed and created to facilitate an online campaign to advocate for patients: Drs. Shaneeta Johnson and Renee Hilton led the legislative advocacy at the state capitol in 2019.
  • The primary access issue in Georgia remains the lack of coverage for bariatric surgery for state employees, teachers and state retirees. Drs. Danny Vaughn and Shaneeta Johnson have testified before legislative committees and Dr. Renee Hilton has met with top level staff for both the Governor and Lt. Governor. At the 2019 Chapter meeting, 3 high ranking legislators attended and participated in an advocacy panel. Plans are underway for the first Georgia Obesity Awareness Advocacy Day at the state Capitol on February 4, 2020.

  • The 11th Augusta Half Marathon


  • The Georgia Chapter of the ASMBS is planning a meeting on Friday August 16, 2019 at the King and Prince Beach Resort, St. Simons Island, GA. Once the new slate of officers is installed at the end of 2018, planning for the 2019 meeting will begin. Access to care for Georgia patients will remain a top priority for the chapter, including the restoration of the insurance benefit covering bariatric surgery for Georgia’s state employees, retirees and teachers.
  • The Georgia Chapter continues to seek legislative relief for the lack of coverage for bariatric surgery in the State Health Benefit Plan. This is the primary focus of the GA Chapter’s advocacy and access to care efforts.

2017 and prior years

  • Access to bariatric surgery for the State Health Benefit Plan remains the top priority. While we have been successful getting a legislative pilot project, permanent restoration of the benefit is the goal.

  • The Georgia Chapter has been working tirelessly for the past few years to have the bariatric surgery benefit restored in the Georgia State Employee Health Benefit Plan (SHBP). Finally, in 2014, The Chapter achieved success when the Georgia Governor signed into law HB 511 creating a 2-year pilot project covering surgery for 75 patients for each of the two years. Data collected from the treatment of the pilot project patients will be analyzed to determine the cost/benefit ratio of the coverage. The Chapter has been closely involved with the implementation of HB 511. Three members of the chapter were appointed by the Governor to advise the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) during the pilot program. The pilot is now in its second year of implementation and the data from year one is being analyzed. Special thanks to the Obesity Action Collation’s Executive Director, Joe Nadglowski for his continued assistance and counsel.

Advocacy Information