Family of firsts

Woman, mother-in-law have inaugural surgeries

Kelli B. Skipper

Janet White

Kelli Skipper

LUMBERTON — When it comes to having surgery, Janet White and her mother-in-law, Margaret, can be classified as a family of firsts.

In May 2006, not long after the unveiling of Southeastern Health Heart and Vascular, formerly known as Southeastern Heart Center, Margaret became the first open heart surgery patient at the new heart center.

Following in her mother-in-law’s footsteps, Janet White became the inaugural cataract surgery patient on June 16 at The Surgery Center at Southeastern Health Park, which opened in October on Dawn Drive in Lumberton. As the center continues to grow, specialty services are added. Ophthalmology and gastroenterology were added to the facility’s medical specialty offerings list in June.

Jane, who is 61 and lives in Lumberton, said she had mixed emotions when she learned she was the first cataract patient at the new facility but knew her surgeon, Dr. Donald Whaley, would take care of her.

“I knew Dr. Whaley is very particular, and I knew he would have the staff prepared,” said Janet White. “I talked with my husband and prayed about it. My nerves went away.”

She arrived at The Surgery Center around 6:30 a.m. and was immediately prepped for surgery by nurses as well as reassured about the procedure by her anesthesiologist, Dr. Michael Kidd, and Whaley.

“Everybody was super, from the front staff to the anesthesiologist,” she said. “The staff was very friendly and personable.”

Although she was reluctant to be the first cataract patient, her experience at the facility and her surgery couldn’t have gone better. Within 30 minutes after the surgery was completed, she was discharged and arrived home around 9 a.m.

She added that there were benefits to having her procedure performed at The Surgery Center compared with the hospital setting. She was impressed with how fast and smooth the process was at the facility. She added that her surgery was more convenient and less expensive at The Surgery Center than previous cataract surgery on her right eye at Southeastern Regional Medical Center by Whaley in April.

“I received very good care at The Surgery Center and had no issues. Now I have 20/20 vision, and I can see a whole lot better now than I ever could before,” she said. “I would most definitely recommend The Surgery Center for anybody.”

The Surgery Center received Medicare certification in May following a process that began in October. Before the certification was received, the center was limited to performing surgery on patients with private insurance. According to Administrative Director Marsha Rowe, the long survey process ensures that the facility provides a quality and safe environment for its patients.

The Surgery Center received accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care in March and is still in review for Medicaid certification.

It is a 13,000-square-foot ambulatory surgery center located on the first floor of the three-story Southeastern Health Park medical office building. The first surgical procedure was performed there in November by Dr. John Rozier.

The center, which is jointly owned by Southeastern Health and partner physicians, provides medical services in gynecology, general surgery, orthopedics, podiatry, ophthalmology, urology and gastroenterology. The center plans to begin offering otolaryngology and pain management services in September. For information, visit

Janet White White

Kelli Skipper Skipper
Woman, mother-in-law have inaugural surgeries

Kelli B. Skipper

Kelli B. Skipper is a content writer and Community Engagement Specialist for Southeastern Health.

Kelli B. Skipper is a content writer and Community Engagement Specialist for Southeastern Health.

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