About Us

Gastrointestinal Associates, P.C., was co-founded in 1971 by Dr. Bergein “Gene” Overholt and Dr. Les Hargrove, who retired from the group in 1994. Since then, our practice has grown to include 14 physicians and three locations across the Knoxville area.

Gastrointestinal Associates has been a national leader in gastroenterology, having developed in 1986 the country’s first licensed, accredited and Medicare-certified endoscopic ambulatory surgery center, which lowered cost, improved quality and patient satisfaction and eliminated the need for a hospital stay for most patients. Following this model, there are now approximately 500 such centers nationwide.

More recently, GIA made significant contributions to the treatment of Barrett’s esophagus, pioneering the use of photodynamic therapy, radiofrequency ablation and mucosal resection. In many cases, these therapies can eliminate the need for surgical removal of the esophagus.

GIA has established the area’s first comprehensive weight management program in gastroenterology consisting of (1) dietetics, (2) appropriate exercise, (3) the Ideal Protein weight loss program and (4) the use of intragastric balloons. Frequent follow-up and contact with patients is a key element of this program.

Gastrointestinal Associates also is leading the way in gastroenterology care in the greater Knoxville area, as evidenced by the following:

  • We offer three accredited ambulatory surgery centers featuring modern equipment, highly trained staff, improved quality, lower costs and greater convenience and patient satisfaction.
  • Our board-certified and highly experienced physicians perform approximately 15,000 colonoscopies each year – more than any other GI practice in the region – and our team has performed more than 250,000 procedures, including 200,000 colonoscopies over the past 15 years.
  • We are leading the way in research to develop a blood test to diagnose colorectal cancer.
  • GIA has been selected numerous times to participate in the development of new technology and treatments that improve patient care.
  • Our top-quality efforts in colonoscopy recently earned us a Presidential award from the American College of Gastroenterology.
  • GIA exceeds national benchmarks for finding and removing adenomas or precancerous polyps. The national benchmark for detection is 25 percent. Our group detection rate in screening colonoscopies was 49% percent in 2016 and continues at that level. Researchers have found that for every 1 percent increase in detection rate, the patient’s risk of developing colorectal cancer over the next decade drops by 3 percent.