(October 28, 2021, Tifton, Ga.) – Dr. Joel Johnson, a general surgeon for South Georgia Surgical and the Medical Director of the Breast Center with Tift Regional Medical Center for many years, has announced his retirement.
A Tifton native, Dr. Johnson worked as an orderly for what was then Tift General Hospital in high school before going on to the University of Georgia where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science Degree. He then earned his medical degree from Emory University and completed his residency at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. After residency, Dr. Johnson returned to his hometown and began working at Tifton Surgical Clinic, now South Georgia Surgical, and started performing surgeries at Tift General Hospital, now Tift Regional Medical Center in 1988. He began serving as the Medical Director for the Breast Center in 2010.
During the course of his career, Dr. Johnson was the driving force behind a quality improvement initiative that led to the Breast Center being accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers in 2012. Under this initiative, the breast center also became recognized as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology, and the women’s health navigator positions were created. The navigator positions allows for more follow up with patients and general navigation through various tests and diagnostic procedures that may need to be performed. This initiative also greatly reduced the amount of time mammography patients had to wait for their results, improved the availability of surgeons, and helped to reduce issues with scheduling biopsies and surgery for patients in need overall.
“Dr. Johnson was the driving force to transform our breast center and breast program,” said Christopher Dorman, Southwell President and CEO. “It would not be what it is today without his hard work and dedication, and I know many breast cancer patients have survived because of him. We are grateful to him for his many years of service and the many ways he has helped us provide quality care to our patients.”
In addition to serving as the Medical Director for the Tift Comprehensive Breast Center since 2010, Dr. Johnson was also Chief of Staff for Tift Regional Medical Center from 1993-1994, and the Chair of Department of Surgery. He also served on the board of the Tift Regional Medical Center Foundation and was on the Board of Trustees with the Tift County Hospital Authority from 1998-2018. During the course of his career, Dr. Johnson has been actively involved with numerous professional organizations and has been an avid supporter of TRMC Foundation events, Relay for Life, and the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation. He frequently volunteered his time at Free Clinical Breast Exam events put on by Southwell for patients without insurance, and he was the recipient of the John B. Prince, III Distinguished Service Award in 2011.
“I am very grateful to have been entrusted with the confidence to provide care to our community, and I could not have done so without the support and sacrifice of my family, as well as that of many other outstanding caregivers,” said Dr. Johnson. “I am very honored and humbled to have been able to provide care to this great community for the past 33 years. I have spent a lot of time away from family and friends over the course of my career in order to devote myself to my patients, so I am looking forward to making up for lost time and spending more time with them during retirement.”