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“Holding retractors, scrubbing into cases – it’s where I developed my love of surgery. I realized I was looking forward to going to work every day. It’s was pretty telling that this was what I needed and wanted to do,” remembers Dr. Greer. “I considered several other things – law school or business – but I didn’t have the passion or excitement I felt when I was thinking about working in the operating room.” 

Several aspects of surgery appealed to Dr. Greer – interacting with staff, the ability to fix a specific problem and make someone better, and the technical aspect of operating. General surgery provided him the opportunity to work with a wide variety of patients who needed a range of surgical care. “I like that general surgery means that I have to be flexible in the care I provide – every day is something different,” says Dr. Greer. “It’s also very gratifying to see a patient who’s sick and needs help and then see the immediate improvement after surgery. I love helping people go home and back to their normal life.” 

For Dr. Greer, the most challenging part of his work is around the conversations he has with patients who are very sick and may be at the end of life – especially if their problem or condition can’t be addressed through surgery. “It’s difficult, but important, to talk through options with the patients and family members so they can make the most informed decisions about their care,” he says. 

“I value communication, and I want my patients to feel like they fully understand their options – and that they are making the decision that’s best for them. As a physician, my job is to provide information and options that hopefully guides them to the right decision,” says Dr. Greer. “With this information, they have the autonomy to decide the procedure, surgical approach or other course of action that’s right for them.” 

Dr. Stephen H. Greer earned his medical degree from The University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Tennessee. He then completed a general surgery internship and residency at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga. He specializes in general and advanced minimally invasive surgery, including robotic-assisted procedures. Dr. Greer is also an instructor with the Department of Surgery for the University of Tennessee College of Medicine at Chattanooga. He sees patients at USA Surgical Specialties Building in Chattanooga and USA East Ridge. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Greer, call (423) 267-0466.  

Dr. Greer with this wife, Rebecca, and his daughters Margaret and Anna. 

Posted by University Surgical  | Category: General Surgery

Welcome, Dr. Murray!

December 12th, 2018

University Surgical Associates is excited to welcome Craig A. Murray, M.D., FACS to the general surgery team providing care for adults in North Georgia. 

Dr. Murray comes to USA from Albany, Georgia, where he has been in private practice for 15 years. He and his wife, Kimberly, a pharmacist, have been married 17 years. They have three boys – a high schooler, a middle schooler and a kindergartener, who Dr. Murray calls a late blessing! 

“We were very drawn to Chattanooga for two reasons – better educational opportunities for our sons and proximity to the many scenic locations this area offers,” says Dr. Murray. “As a family, we love being active, and that includes snow skiing, hiking and spending time outdoors. It was also very appealing to join with USA as they expand their services into the North Georgia region, where I believe I can be helpful in establishing high quality surgical services in an underserved area.” 

Dr. Murray earned his medical degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine and completed a general surgery residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. Upon completion of his residency, Dr. Murray began his practice and became affiliated with the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia, where he served as Vice President of Medical Staff and Clinical Associate Professor at the Medical College of Georgia.

He is a member of the American College of Surgeons and has medical licenses in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Dr. Murray comes to University Surgical Associates with nearly 16 years of general surgery experience where he specializes in advanced minimally invasive surgery, including robotic-assisted procedures. 

Currently, Dr. Murray sees patients and performs minor surgeries at the USA Surgical Specialties Building at 2108 E. 3rd Street in Chattanooga and performs planned and emergency surgery at Erlanger, CHI Memorial and Parkridge. USA has plans to open another satellite office on Battlefield Parkway in the coming months.  

Advanced Surgical Care

University Surgical Associates' general surgeons manage adult general surgery issues from appendicitis to gallbladder disease, hernias and breast disease, as well as a wide range of surgical services including intraabdominal, gastrointestinal, cancer, endocrine, breast, and blood vessels. In his practice, Dr. Murray specializes in advanced minimally invasive surgery, robotic hernia repair, gallbladder disease, colon resection, appendicitis, abdominal wall defect, breast surgery, and anti-reflux procedures. 

“The problem-solving mentality has always been one of my favorite parts of surgery – finding a solution to a problem is really satisfying. I also love medicine and the combination of working with my hands to help people,” says Dr. Murray. “Running into my patients out in the community and seeing they’ve returned to their normal lives after surgery is the most gratifying part of my job. I feel blessed to do this every day.” 

“We are excited to have a physician of Dr. Murray’s caliber join USA. His surgical skill, expertise and patient care philosophy make him a welcome addition to our team,” says Michael S. Greer, M.D., president of University Surgical Associates. “As we move to offer our services to a wider number of people who live and work in the surrounding Chattanooga area, Dr. Murray is an excellent representative for the quality of care University Surgical Associates has always been known for in this community. Bringing these much-needed services and a surgeon of this caliber to North Georgia is a high priority for our practice.” 

“Personalized patient care and putting my patients’ needs first has always been the focus of my surgical practice, and I’m thrilled to maintain that type of physician/patient relationship at University Surgical Associates,” says Dr. Murray. “USA is comprised of some the most well trained and highest quality surgeons who I believe practice medicine the way I do. I’m excited to join these likeminded physicians and to continue the long track record they have of providing exceptional and innovative surgical care.” 

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Murray, call 423.267.0466. 

Posted by University Surgical  | Category: general surgery

You’ve seen the commercials and heard the negative news about surgical mesh – and you’re probably wondering if it’s safe. You’re not alone. Many people who need hernia repair have this concern. Dr. Robert Jean, general surgeon at University Surgical Associates, shares how he talks with patients about this often-misunderstood approach to hernia repair. 

“Due in part to the pervasiveness of TV commercials that have warned of the dangers associated with surgical mesh, nearly every patient I see is hesitant to use this approach,” says Dr. Jean. “But using surgical mesh in hernia repair is the highest standard of care. It’s used as a reinforcement to provide strength to the repair and has been shown to produce better long-term results and decrease the risk of the hernia returning.” 

Understanding the Risks 

There have been a number of law suits about the misuse of surgical mesh and the complications that can occur when it’s used improperly. The major complications include severe pain, serious infections around the mesh, mesh adherence to internal organs (called erosion), and bowel obstruction. But thanks to improved surgical techniques and product design, these risks are steadily decreasing.  

“Any product that’s placed inside the body has associated risks, but the benefits greatly outweigh those risks in most situations. In recent years, surgical mesh manufacturers have taken flawed products off the market and developed different materials or coatings designed to prevent erosion,” explains Dr. Jean. “Surgeons are also implementing different surgical approaches and keeping mesh away from a patient’s intestines and bladder, further reducing the risk of complications.” 

For patients who have a predisposition to infection, there are a few types of mesh that offer a higher degree of infection resistance. Your surgeon should talk with you about whether these products are necessary for your individual medical condition. Although increasingly rare, effectively treating most infections can be as simple as using antibiotics or drains. Only in the most severe cases is corrective surgery required.  

USA General Surgery Staff 

University Surgical Associates provides general surgical care in the Chattanooga region for patients with hernias and breast disease, as well as a wide range of surgical services relating to the abdomen, including surgery of the gallbladder, stomach and colon.   

Coleman Arnold, MD, FACS
Donald Barker, MD, FACS
R. Phillip Burns, MD, FACS
W. Todd Cockerham, MD, FACS 
Benjamin Dart IV, MD, FACS
Jacob Dowden, MD, FACS
W. Heath Giles, MD, FACS
John Huggins, MD, FACS
Darren Hunt, MD, FACS
Robert Jean, MD, FACS 
Benjamin Kellogg, MD, FACS
Robert Maxwell, MD, FACS
Vicente Mejia, MD, FACS
S. Michael Roe, MD, FACS
Philip Smith, MD, FACS
Craig Swafford, MD, FACS 

Safe and Effective Treatment 

If you’re living with the discomfort, pain and heaviness in your abdomen that often goes along with a hernia, safe and effective treatment is available.  The board certified and highly trained surgeons at USA use minimally invasive techniques – including robotic surgery – to treat hernias of all sizes. For people with a large hernia, surgical mesh offers the best long-term outcome and the lowest risk of recurrence. Dr. Jean recommends against surgery for patients who are uncomfortable using surgical mesh to repair their hernia because of the substantially lower chance for success without it. 

He also emphasizes that even if you aren’t sure you need surgery to repair a hernia, a consultation with a surgeon can be beneficial. “I don’t want to convince anyone they should have surgery if they don’t want it, but I do want people to know when surgery might be required,” says Dr. Jean. “If you have a severe onset of pain, nausea and vomiting or if the hernia’s size increases quickly, these could be reasons for an emergent hernia repair and you should go to the ER immediately.” 

Learn more about the services available at University Surgical Associates by visiting To schedule an appointment with one of USA’s general surgeons, call (423) 267-0466. 

Posted by University Surgical  | Category: General Surgery