Author Archive

Spotlight: Mary Montrichard & Haniya Sahi Present in Jasper County

By Abbey Carr, Statewide Manager, Tar Wars Education

This year in Jasper County, Halloween was about more than just scaring classmates and eating too much candy. Trained Tar Wars presenters Mary Montrichard and Haniya Sahi ⎼ both medical students at American University School of Integrative Sciences ⎼ traveled to Jasper County Middle School (JCMS) in Monticello, Georgia to deliver the important Tar Wars message of tobacco, nicotine and vape prevention.

Mary and Haniya facilitated multiple presentations to all 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students at JCMS, reaching more than 580 students in one day.  They encouraged them to stay healthy and resist the temptation to use and abuse harmful nicotine and e-cigarette products. They also provided cessation resources and other informative handouts to the students.

We are thankful to these amazing Tar Wars presenters and are so encouraged by the impact they made in Jasper County!

Do you want to help us stop Georgia students from vaping before they ever start?  Plug-in to our Tar Wars education initiative!  For more information on the Tar Wars program, please email Abbey at or sign up for a weekly program orientation here.

Free AAFP Webcast Discusses Benefits of Integrating Behavioral Health

Evolving patient needs and primary care-centric payment models have sparked major behavioral health integration (BHI) innovations in family medicine. It’s now easier than ever for family physicians to choose a sustainable BHI model that’s right for their practice.

The livestream will be held on November 16 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will explore the many benefits BHI can provide, including better patient outcomes and greater practice satisfaction.

During this one-hour panel discussion, family physicians can discover where they fit in today’s BHI environment and learn how to start or move forward with integrating behavioral health in their practice.

At the conclusion of this session, learners will…

⎼ Understand the current U.S. landscape in BHI, including existing challenges in addressing behavioral health needs of patients.

⎼ Be able to identify the need for and promise of integrating behavioral health into primary care.

⎼ Be familiar with a variety of successful BHI models and pathways for implementing them in practice.

Participants can ask questions, chat with colleagues, and earn 1 CME credit as they set themselves and their patients up for behavioral health success. Members can also join an online community to exchange insights with experts and peers.

This livestream is the first in a series of CME sessions about practice implementation aspects of BHI.

Online registration for the session is now open.

AAFP Reprint: New Tools Available to Support Flu Vaccine Conversations

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), through a collaborative effort with Sanofi Pasteur Inc., has created two free member resources — an influenza vaccination fact sheet and an influenza vaccination clinical guidance sheet — to assist family physicians during the 2022-2023 flu season.

Members can find both resources under “Supporting Patient Flu Vaccine Conversations” on the AAFP’s Seasonal Influenza Prevention & Control webpage.

These tools are especially important for the 2022-23 influenza season, as immunizations are trending lower than expected and the flu has emerged earlier than usual.

Family physicians can help patients cut through patients’ apathy and confusion about the flu by using the new resources and… 

⎼ Reach out to patients with news about increased incidence of influenza and respiratory illness while COVID-19 is still spreading

⎼  Prompt patients to get a flu shot with efforts including dedicated staff time and flu clinics and

⎼  Extend immunization season through February.

Dr. Riba Kelsey Awarded GAFP 2022 Family Physician ‘Educator of the Year’ Award

Morehouse School of Medicine Family Medicine Residency Program Director Riba C. Kelsey, M.D., has been honored with the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians 2022 Educator of the Year Award and was recognized during the annual meeting in November.

“Dr. Kelsey is a remarkable physician and educator, and she is being honored for her steadfast pursuit of excellence in teaching our future doctors,” said GAFP President Susana Ajoy Alfonso, M.D., FAAFP. “Her dedication to her fellow Morehouse faculty, staff and residents is both exemplary and commendable. She personifies the kind of physician and mentor that you would want to guide your career.”

Dr. Alfonso added that, “Dr. Kelsey has a well-deserved reputation for excellence in family medicine. She is renowned for her many contributions to clinical research and patient care at the national, state and community levels.”

Dr. Kelsey has served as secretary and was recently elected vice-chair and chair-elect of the National Medical Association Family Medicine Section, she is a member of the Housestaff for Emerging Academy of Leaders (HEAL USA) Mentor Team, she has served on the Association for Family Medicine Residency Directors‘ National Toolbox Committee, and she is a member of GAFP’s Education and Research Committee. 

Dr. Kelsey has received multiple awards, including the Morehouse School of Medicine’s (MSM) Graduate Medical Education Faculty Member of the Year award in 2016 and 2020, MSM’s Nelson McGhee Memorial Family Medicine Residency Faculty Award in 2014, 2015, 2019 and 2020, and the Morehouse School of Medicine Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award in 2022.

Dr. Alfonso concluded that, “Dr. Kelsey has an incredibly deep and diverse depth of knowledge, which means she can care for patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She is a go-to clinician when it comes to helping her fellow physicians and medical students. And Dr. Kelsey is approachable, down to earth, and gentle in the way she interacts with her residents and medical students – which is why she is one of the program’s most popular faculty members.”

Have you completed AAFP’s demographic survey?

Make your voice heard! Have you completed the American Academy of Family Physician’s (AAFP) demographic survey? Sharing information about your background helps the AAFP better understand members’ needs and guide the Academy’s priorities. The survey takes just two minutes to complete, and you can choose to keep your responses anonymous. It’s also an easy way to indicate your interest in serving as a chapter delegate to the AAFP’s National Conference of Constituency Leaders.

Virtual 2023 Coding Workshop to be Held December 7

By Sarah Bigorowski, Director of Education

Changes are coming to evaluation and management codes. Are you ready?

Register today for the highly rated virtual Coding Update CME Workshop* that will take place on Wednesday, December 7 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Coding expert Steve Adams will discuss the changes in ‘2023 Evaluation and Management Coding for Outpatient Services, Facility & New Guidelines.’ You will gain an understanding of Risk Adjustment Factor and HCCs and how they will be used in the future to determine physician reimbursements.

This is a virtual workshop, so you and your staff can review the information in your office. The Zoom link will be sent on Tuesday, December 6. The cost is $50 for GAFP members and $75 for non-members.

Registration Closes Monday, December 5.

*CME credit is pending

November Medicaid Multi-Factor Authentication Webinars

The Department of Community Health (DCH) and Gainwell Technologies invite you to participate in one of the Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) webinars scheduled during the month of November 2022.

Physicians are encouraged to send their practice managers and billing staff, as well as business associates, including billing/service agents that submit Medicaid claims. The webinars will provide important information you will need to know on the following topics including, but not limited to, GAMMIS MFA Sign-up and Login and GAMMIS Screenshots from Provider View.

To ensure all Georgia Medicaid providers can attend, there will be two webinars on the dates listed below. Each will take place at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Attendees must individually register to reserve a seat by clicking on the desired link to complete the registration form.

November 16           

10 a.m. ⎼ Click to register

1 p.m. ⎼ Click to register

November 18

10 a.m. ⎼ Click to register

1 p.m. ⎼ Click to register

November 21

10 a.m. ⎼ Click to register

1 p.m. ⎼ Click to register

November 22

10 a.m. ⎼ Click to register

1 p.m. ⎼ Click to register

November 28

10 a.m. ⎼ Click to register

1 p.m. ⎼ Click to register

November 30

10 a.m. ⎼ Click to register

1 p.m. ⎼ Click to register

Upon completion of your registration, a confirmation notice will be sent via e-mail to the address provided during registration. Please review the confirmation e-mail for accuracy.

The webinar confirmation e-mail will include…

⎼ Date and time of the webinar workshop

⎼ Conference phone number and pass code

⎼ Teams Meeting hyperlink

Should you have any questions regarding the Multi-Factor Authenticator (MFA) webinars for the month of November 2022, please contact Gainwell Technologies via e-mail at Thank you for your continued participation in the Georgia Medicaid program.

Dr. Sharon Rabinovitz Installed as Georgia Academy of Family Physicians’ President

Sharon R. Rabinovitz, M.D., was installed as the president of the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians (GAFP) during the organization’s annual meeting that took place at the Atlanta Marriott Northwest at Galleria November 10-12.

“The opportunity to serve my profession and our patients in this capacity is a great honor,” says Dr. Rabinovitz, a board-certified family physician who is the executive director and an assistant professor with the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. “I genuinely value and welcome every perspective, so I will make a conscious effort to be accessible and responsive and listen to my fellow GAFP members.”

Dr. Rabinovitz stresses that, “I am going to do everything in my power to protect the individual physician’s right to care for their patients as they see fit, to ensure their patients have access to the care they need and deserve, and to ensure that family physicians have a strong and effective voice in the legislative and regulatory arenas.”

During her one-year term as GAFP president, Dr. Rabinovitz will focus on…

⎼ Developing and promoting health screening processes that account for social determinants to “identify the state’s most vulnerable patients to ensure they have access to resources that can change the trajectory of their lives.”

⎼ Ensure that the ‘Mental Health Parity Bill’ (H.B. 1013) that state lawmakers passed in 2022 is implemented in a way that “actually translates into increased support and access for patients who need mental health treatment.”

⎼ Continuing GAFP’s efforts to “forge a path for students from diverse backgrounds, especially those from historically marginalized communities, to get into medical school.”

⎼ Creating a “sustainable foundation of family physicians in the state to serve as preceptors.”

Dr. Rabinovitz adds that, “GAFP will also continue to be a leader in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion across the medical profession because it will result in a stronger health care system and better outcomes.”   

She also says GAFP will remain at the forefront of efforts to address key issues like physician burnout (e.g., reducing the program’s administrative burden and increasing physician payment to cover the cost associated with providing the care), expanding Medicaid in Georgia, and ensuring patients have access to mental health care, reproductive health resources and prescription medications at affordable prices.

Dr. Rabinovitz believes, “It is imperative to expand and protect Georgians’ access to contraceptive health care to improve maternal outcomes and decrease mortality.”

Having been in practice for some 30 years, Dr. Rabinovitz encourages family physicians in the state to join GAFP because it offers an array of excellent practice management resources and workshops (e.g., billing and coding), continuing medical education, timely and relevant information (e.g., alerts from the Georgia Department of Health), networking opportunities, and access to legislators and other important stakeholders at the state and local levels.

She concludes that, “The bottom line is that GAFP helps its members make better decisions, deliver better patient care, and run more efficient and successful practices.”

Recruitment for 2023 Georgia Academy Leadership

Join Us – 2023 Committee and Leadership Recruitment (In-Person Meetings with Virtual Options)

To: GAFP Colleagues (Active, Life, Resident, Medical Student)
From: Sharon Rabinovitz, MD – Incoming President

One of the most important roles serving as your President for this upcoming year is appointing the Committee members for 2023. I am soliciting your interest in participating on one of the Georgia Academy’s committees for next year. We anticipate meeting in-person and will continue to have virtual options for most positions as well. We typically meet three times a year.

Here are the dates for the 2023 committee dates. 

– Saturday, March 11, 2023 – Committee Meetings – Hyatt Regency Atlanta Perimeter at Villa Christina

– Thursday, June 8 – Committee Meetings – Wild Dunes Resort – Isle of Palms, SC

– Saturday, August 12 – Committee Meetings – Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa – Young Harris, GA

I appreciate your consideration of service with your colleagues on a committee. We are only strong with many voices of family medicine working together. 

Committee membership will be held to no more than 15 members. For most committees, this will include one slot for a resident and a medical student. The expectation is that each member selected for a committee will have the ability to 1) attend the three committee conclave meetings, 2) respond to emails, and 3) review committee materials and be ready to offer advice and guidance. 

There will also be a Legislative Session Working Group that meets weekly, but for a shorter time (January-April 2023) which weekly reviews health legislation that is moving through the Georgia General Assembly.

Education and Research Committee (15 members): This committee is responsible for all the educational activities of the Georgia Academy, including the annual and summer meeting, as well as our regional and online CME options.  Will include an additional virtual meeting in January.

Finance Committee (15 members): This committee reviews the financials including our annual audit, staff benefits and the budget. It also makes recommendations to the Board on financial policies.  

Legislative Committee (15 members): This committee oversees all advocacy and legislative activities and recommends action to the Board to assure representation of family medicine and our patients. Does not meet in March due to legislative session.

State Legislative Session Working Group (unlimited members): This working group will meet weekly by phone (typically Monday evenings) from January – April to review the policy priorities of the Georgia Academy along with receiving updates on the activities of the Georgia General Assembly.  

Membership Services Committee (15 members): This committee has the responsibility for membership recruitment and retention, overview of leadership development, as well as, for all local and national award nominations. This committee is also tasked with monitoring the communications to our members.

Practice Management Committee (15 members): The Practice Management Committee works on keeping members informed on all the moving parts of the business of family medicine.  It monitors insurance policies, new payment models, and seeks to ease administrative burdens.

Public Health Committee (15 members): This committee works to improve the health and welfare of our state’s citizens by assisting Georgia’s Department of Public Health in their mission.  It also seeks to keep our members informed of ways to support our patients with the variety of issues on social determinants of health that they encounter.

Student and Resident Recruitment Committee (15 members – 9 active/life members, 3 students, 3 residents) This Committee promotes family medicine to our Georgia medical students, pre-medical students as well as looks for areas to support family medicine residents.  Plans the annual medical student meeting.  Does not hold a meeting in March due to annual Student Workshop and Resident Fair.

Click to fill out the application and send to…

Georgia Academy of Family Physicians
Fax to 404-321-7450 or email Alesa McArthur


Education and Health Literacy as Social Determinants of Health

By Radhika Agarwal

Social determinants of health are the non-medical factors which influence health and quality of life. [1] They are conditions which are present within a patient’s everyday life and environment. Education access and health literacy are key social determinants of health recognized by Healthy People 2030. [2] [3] There are specific goals to “increase the proportion of high school students who graduate in four years” and “increase the proportion of adults whose health care provider checked their understanding” by 2030. [2] [3]

Definition: Individual Health Literacy is defined as “the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others”. [2]

Why is this relevant? Health outcomes differ by education level. Individuals who do not graduate high school are more likely to suffer from 1 or more chronic health conditions. [3] Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher are significantly more likely to understand their provider than those without a high school degree. [4] As of 2019, 12.1 percent of Georgians aged 25 years and older lacked a high school diploma. This rate of high school non-completion was highest among Hispanics (35.7 percent) within our state. [5]

Screening: Start by asking adult patients for highest grade completed. For children and teenagers, assess school performance and grade level. Poor school performance would warrant further investigation for health (physical or mental) or social concerns.

Recommendations and resources: To improve health understanding among adults with low-health literacy, the teach back method can be used to assess patient comprehension. Having easy-to-read handouts and educational material in clinic to provide for patients can serve as a reference after the appointment.

Adults without a high school degree can also be provided with information on programs to complete secondary education. The Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) offers high school equivalency preparation and ESL classes with online and in-person options. [6] There are 23 main TCSG locations throughout Georgia with additional satellite locations.

For adolescent students at risk of not finishing high school (including for reasons specific to pregnancy and having children), high school completion programs are recommended, including “vocational training, alternative schools, social-emotional skills training, mentoring and counseling, supplemental academic services, attendance monitoring, and case management.” [7]. For expelled students, Georgia requires districts to operate alternative high schools or provide alternative education. [8]. [9] There are also community organizations we can refer parents to, such as local affiliates of Communities in Schools of Georgia – a non-profit organization with presence in 32 counties dedicated to providing social support, case management services, and emotional support to students. [10]

Dr. Agarwal is a GAFP Resident Member. She is board-certified in family medicine and currently completing a Preventive Medicine residency.


[1] World Health Organization (WHO), “Social determinants of health,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed 19 October 2022].

[2] Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Health Literacy in Healthy People 2030,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed 19 October 2022].

[3] Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “High School Graduation,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed 19 October 2022].

[4] CDC, “QuickStats: Percentage of Adults Aged ≥25 Years Who Had Seen a Health Care Professional in the Past 12 Months and Who Easily Understood Information from Their Health Care Providers Most or All of the Time, by Sex and Education Level— National Health Inter,” MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly, 15 November 2019. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 19 October 2022].

[5] America’s Health Rankings, United Health Foundation, “Education – Less Than High School, Georgia, United States,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed 19 October 2022].

[6] Technical College System of Georgia, “Georgia High School Equivalency (GED & HiSET) Program,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed 19 October 2022].

[7] Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Health Equity: High School Completion Programs,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed 19 October 2022].

[8] State Policy Database, National Association of State Boards of Education, “Alternative Education for Expelled Students – Georgia,” [Online]. Available: [Accessed 19 October 2022].

[9] Georgia Department of Education, “CSI/TSI/Promise Alternative/Non-Traditional Education Alternative Education Team District Assignments,” [Online]. Available:,%20Schools,%20and%20Assignments.pdf. [Accessed 19 October 2022].