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Hospital puts women’s practice into effect

POSTED: January 6, 2014 8:28 p.m.
Photo by Paul Floeckher/

Dr. Toni Sylvester, along with Effingham Health CEO Norma Jean Morgan and Effingham Hospital Authority Chairman Rick Rafter, cuts the ribbon for Sylvester’s new office on Goshen Road. They are joined by Sylvester’s husband Rue Reynolds, third from left, and colleagues from Effingham Health System.

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Dr. Toni Sylvester began practicing in Effingham County a year ago because she saw a need in the community.


“The fact that patients were driving 45 minutes to Statesboro or Savannah for basic women’s health was really unacceptable to me,” said Sylvester, a urogynecologist.


After a year of helping meet that need, Sylvester has a new office to do it.


Effingham Health System leaders and fellow physicians joined Sylvester for a ribbon cutting Monday for Effingham Women’s Health at 110 Goshen Rd. in Rincon.


“Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming our way,” Effingham Health CEO Norma Jean Morgan said to Sylvester, adding that having her on the EHS staff is “a blessing.”


“This is a great opportunity for Effingham Health System to provide services to the community that are really needed,” said Rick Rafter, chairman of the Effingham Hospital Authority. “This has been a long time coming, but we’re here — and we wish you nothing but the best.”


Sylvester is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist. As a urogynecologist, she also treats pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence, and can perform minimally-invasive gynecologic surgery.


Dr. James Cornwell, Effingham Health System’s chief of staff, said he “couldn’t be happier that we’ve got Dr. Sylvester here.”


“There are so many things that women need, so many health issues that she can provide services for, that can be done right here,” Cornwell said. “Previous to her, we were sending everything to Savannah, because we did not have the resources — or, more specifically, we did not have the person. Now we’ve got the person.”


For the past year, Sylvester practiced at Dr. Romualdo Laygo and Janice Ford’s Effingham Family Medicine office in Springfield. Sylvester described it as “almost a ‘soft opening’ for that year,” to gauge the community’s receptivity to having a women’s health center.


“The idea was to do this, but I don’t know that we thought we’d be doing it in less than a year,” Sylvester said.


She described her practice as “well-received” by the community. Her colleagues lauded that as an understatement.


“The success I’ve seen already is phenomenal, remarkable,” said orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Mark Mudano.


“I think Dr. Sylvester has been a shining light for women’s health in Effingham,” said radiology physician Dr. Khoa Nguyen.


Sylvester’s experience includes practicing at the Baltimore Veterans Administration Hospital and Baltimore Washington Medical Center, and serving on the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.


“Her work up there prepared her so that she could come to Effingham County,” Morgan said. “Even though that wasn’t in her process at the time, we’re so grateful.”


Effingham Women’s Health is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The office is closed for lunch from noon-1 p.m. For more information, call 826-5239.


Along with Sylvester’s grand opening, another EHS physician changed offices on Monday. After five years in Rincon, Cornwell joined the staff of Effingham Family Medicine at Guyton.


Dr. Audie Sanks specializes in adult care in Guyton. Bringing Cornwell on board gives the northern end of the county a doctor who will see children.


“That area of the county is hugely family-oriented,” Cornwell said. “We have physicians and providers from Springfield south who can handle children, but, that direction, they didn’t have one. Making this change improves the well-roundedness of the facility.”

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