Blowing Rock Fashion Show Festivities Sold Out

Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation is pleased to share that the Patrons Evening Under the Stars and the 37th Annual Blowing Rock Fashion Show and Luncheon have sold out.

“We are so grateful to the community for their support of these events and Chestnut Ridge,” said Rob Hudspeth, Senior Vice President of Advancement for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.

Proceeds from both events benefit the new post-acute care center, Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock. Chestnut Ridge will offer post-acute rehabilitative care, skilled nursing care, palliative care and memory support care.

The Patrons Evening Under the Stars will be Saturday, July 26, 2014 on the lawn of the private, historical home “Shadowlawn” in Mayview. Patrons will enjoy cocktails, dining and dancing to The Todd Wright Sextet and a live auction.

The 37th Annual Blowing Rock Fashion Show & Luncheon will be Friday, August 1, 2014 at the Blowing Rock Country Club. The event will feature models wearing the latest fashions, live music with The Todd Wright Duo and a magnificent silent auction.

Anyone wishing to attend either event should call Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation at (828) 262-4391 and request to be added to the waiting list.

To learn more about Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock, visit


July is National Blueberry Month, and we think that is definitely something worth celebrating! Whether you like your blueberries in muffins, pies, or fruit salads, or you just pop them in your mouth for a fast and easy snack, no matter how you eat them there’s no denying this little berry is a super food.blueberries

According to, just one cup of blueberries will give you:

  • 14% of the recommended daily dose of fiber
  • 25% of the recommended daily dose of Vitamin C

Blueberries are also packed with antioxidants, those compounds that help boost your immune system, and they contain anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve cardiovascular health and might even attack cancer-causing free radicals. You get all of this for less than 100 calories!

Of course, you can get blueberries year round at the supermarket. But now is the perfect time to find fresh, North Carolina-grown blueberries practically in your own backyard. Visit the Avery County Farmers Market, Watauga County Farmers Market or Blowing Rock Farmers Market to find fresh-picked berries from local farms, and mix them up with blackberries and raspberries. Or make an adventure out of it and go pick your own! You can find farms across the state on the Pick Your Own website. Be sure to call before you go to confirm blueberries are available for picking.

Once you’ve got your blueberries, it’s time to start eating! Here are a few ways to incorporate them into your daily diet:

  • Sprinkle blueberries on cereal, yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast
  • Add them to your favorite smoothie recipe
  • Mix blueberries into any fruit salad or green salad
  • Make a patriotic dessert with strawberries, blueberries and Cool Whip topping on a low-fat pound cake

Find more recipes from the North Carolina Blueberry Council.

Make the most of National Blueberry Month, and incorporate these and other healthy habits into your diet for better health!

Stay Safe in the Sun!

Child in a PoolSummer is in full swing, and that means time at the pool, the beach, the lake, the golf course, the tennis courts, and all sorts of other great outdoor activities. It’s a great time of year to be active and healthy, but remember when you’re out there, protect your skin! The sun’s rays are warm and welcoming, but there can definitely be too much of a good thing. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, each year more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States, and most are associated with exposure to UV radiation to the sun.

Luckily, the days of bronze-skinned bathing beauties are a thing of the past, and slathering on the sunscreen or wearing protective clothing such as swim shirts and hats are the new trend. Just be sure that when you are wearing sunscreen you do it right, to make sure you are as protected as you can be. Here are a few tips to remember when applying sunscreen.

  • Apply it liberally. You will need at least two tablespoons, or about a golf ball size, to cover your entire body.
  • Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before going outdoors, to give it time to absorb into your skin.
  • Reapply every two hours, or sooner if you’ve been swimming or sweating.
  • Use an SPF 15 sunscreen every day, and go for SPF 30 or higher for outdoor activities. But keep in mind that SPFs higher than 30 don’t give you much more protection, so don’t overextend yourself. SPF 30 absorbs 97 percent of the sun’s burning rays, while SPF 50 comes in at just 98 percent.
  • Make sure to use a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. These will have ingredients such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or stabilized avobenzone.

In addition to slathering on the sunscreen, remember to also do a body check once a month, and have your doctor do a skin exam once a year. Be alert for any moles or marks that change color, size, shape or texture, or any that have appeared after the age of 21.

For a good list of reliable sunscreens, check out this year’s report from the Environmental Working Group. They methodically test and research more than 700 sunscreens for safety and effectiveness.

And remember, sunscreen isn’t just for summer. You can burn just as easily out on the ski slopes as you can on the lake. There’s just less skin exposed! So make sure you wear sunscreen every day.

For more information about changes in your skin, consult your primary care provider or a dermatologist in your area.




Groundbreaking for Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock to be held June 24th

Chestnut Ridge

Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock

The groundbreaking for Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock will take place on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 from 2 – 4 p.m.

Chestnut Ridge, part of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, is a 112-bed Post-Acute Care facility that will replace the existing 72-bed Blowing Rock Rehabilitation and Davant Extended Care Center – formerly known as Blowing Rock Hospital. The new facility will provide rehabilitation, skilled nursing care, palliative care and memory support care.

“Looking to the future, Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock, will allow Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) to take care of the right patient, at the right place, at the right time,”said ARHS president and CEO Richard Sparks.

The public is invited to attend this momentous occasion. Due to road construction and limited accessibility, those who wish to attend the groundbreaking are asked to park at Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway in Blowing Rock and ride an ARHS shuttle to the property. Multiple shuttles will run every 15 minutes from 1:15 pm until 2 pm.

Map for Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway

To learn more about Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock or visit or call (828) 262-4391.

Urgent Care Vs. Emergency Room: Making the Decision

AppUrgent Care Center

AppUrgent Care Center

The following scenarios are fictitious and not based on real people.

It’s 5:30 on a Wednesday evening. Sue has just picked up her kindergartener Billy from after-school care and he tells her his ear has been hurting all day. When they get home she checks his temperature, and isn’t surprised when she sees he has a fever, a temperature of 103 degrees. He’s had two ear infections already this winter, this must be another one. If they can get him antibiotics soon, he might only miss one day of school. This is a perfect opportunity to visit the AppUrgent Care Centeropen weekdays 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Saturday night at 2 a.m., Joe wakes up with a gripping pain in his chest. Without thinking twice, his wife Carol calls 911 and Joe is transported to the emergency room at Watauga Medical Centerwhere he is immediately taken back and taken through the appropriate tests. It turns out he had a minor heart attack, and Carol’s quick trip to the ER might have saved his life.

Emergency Department Entrance at Watauga Medical Center

Emergency Department Entrance at Watauga Medical Center

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is fortunate to be able to provide both emergency services and urgent care services for people in our communities. But for many people, it is hard to know where to go. The examples above are two very black and white cases, but there are many more that are not that clear cut. Overall, you can feel safe in making decisions for your family by using the following guidelines.

Urgent Care Centers

  • Sprains and broken bones
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Ear infections, cough, or sore throat
  • Animal bites
  • Cuts or minor laceration repairs
  • Urinary Tract Infections

Emergency Centers

Emergency Department Entrance at Cannon Memorial Department

Emergency Department Entrance at Cannon Memorial Department

  • Chest pain
  • Stroke symptoms
  • Severe/sudden pain
  • Severe Bleeding
  • Head injury
  • Difficulty Breathing

The rule of thumb is that emergency centers are equipped to treat severe and life-threatening illnesses and conditions. The doctors and medical staff have been trained in these areas and have the appropriate equipment and labs to run tests and prescribe medicine to treat traumas in the best possible manner.

Urgent care centers, on the other hand, can often be confused with emergency departments because they are also a place where you can come on a walk-in basis. But they are set up for less severe illnesses and injuries. The extended and weekend hours make them an appropriate place to go for things that you would normally visit your primary care physician for, but can’t because it’s after hours. They are also equipped to handle sprains and broken bones and other minor injuries. In most cases it’s cheaper and faster to visit the urgent care than the emergency room!

Understanding the differences and the types of services each provide will help you be able to plan where to go when the moment of need arises. And if there’s any doubt, call your primary care physician to ask which is the best place to go for your illness or injury.

For more information about AppUrgent Care Center (2146 Blowing Rock Road, Boone, NC 28607), visit

For more information about the Emergency Department at Watauga Medical Center (336 Deerfield Road, Boone, NC 28607) and Cannon Memorial Hospital (434 Hospital Drive, Linville, NC 28646), visit…





Raising Awareness of Men’s Health Issues

Men fill roles that encompass a wide range of responsibilities, including fathers, husbands, employees, bosses, mentors, coaches, and caregivers, and to perform well in all of them good health is of utmost importance. Yet men’s life expectancy is five years less than women’s, for no biologically proven reason. The reasons for this lower life expectancy come from a variety of issues including an absence of education directed toward men on health issues, a reluctance to take action and go to the doctor as well as a reluctance to discuss health issues, and a tendency to engage in risky behaviors.

So we’re here to spread the news about Men’s Health Week, celebrated worldwide June 9-15, and help raise awareness of preventative health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of diseases common for men.

Jay Krakovitz, MD

Jay Krakovitz, MD

“Men need preventative maintenance, just like their beloved cars and trucks,” stated Dr. Jay Krakovitz of Watauga Internal Medicine.

If you’re a man reading this, the first step you take should be to schedule a full physical with your primary care physician. Remember how your mother used to take you to the doctor every year for a check up? The need for those didn’t go away after you turned 16. In fact, as you get older, certain screenings and tests become very important for good health. And if you’re a woman reading this blog, then go right away and persuade your husband, father, brother, or partner to schedule a doctor’s appointment. Here are a few very important reasons why:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men, and preventative measures and medications can help control this.
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death in men, and many forms are treatable if caught early.
  • Men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. Good physical health can go a long way toward maintaining good mental health, and a regular check-in with a doctor could help alert you to signs of depression or anxiety.

Important Screenings

During that doctor visit you are getting ready to schedule, make sure you complete the age appropriate screenings.

35 and over: Cholesterol and blood pressure. These should be checked at least every two years.

50 and over: Colonoscopy, to check for colon cancer

55 and over: Lung cancer screening, if you have a 30-pack a year history and smoke or have smoked two packs per day in the past 15 years.

Prostate cancer is another common cancer that is often treatable when caught early. While PSA screenings are not recommended, if you are regularly visiting your doctor he or she will be alert to changes and symptoms and will be able to take the necessary steps.

Overall Health

Making an appointment with the doctor is just the first step. The other goal of Men’s Health Week is to encourage healthy habits for a better quality of life. Set a goal today to make a few simple changes that will have you feeling better in no time.

• Improve your diet. Take small steps and do it gradually, but make improvements like eating smaller portions, less salt and more vegetables.

• Get active. Join a gym, sign up for a sports team, or just get outside and throw the Frisbee with your kids or take the dog on a walk.

• Get better sleep. Try to get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night, and stick to a schedule as much as possible, even on the weekends.

For more great ideas and encouragement, check out the blog on The Men’s Health Network, Talking About Men’s Health.

If you do not have a primary care physician, visit To make an appointment with Dr. Krakovitz at Watauga Internal Medicine, call (828) 262-0060.



Baker Center for Primary Care holds Grand Re-Opening on June 19

Linville, NC – The Baker Center for Primary Care, located in the Sloop Medical Office Plaza adjacent to Cannon Memorial Hospital, is having a Grand Re-Opening on June 19, from 4 – 6 pm. The free event will feature guest speakers, guided tours and light refreshments to showcase the newly renovated medical office.

In 2012, Dr. Baker along with the other healthcare providers in his office, decided to join Appalachian Regional Medical Associates (ARMA) to form the Baker Center for Primary Care.

“The goal in joining forces (with the healthcare system) was to create an efficient model for providing sustainable, quality primary care in Avery County,” said Dr. Baker. Since joining ARMA, the practice has added three providers and has experienced an annual increase in patient volume.

Toni Gault, Practice Administrator for the Avery County ARMA offices said, “The reason for the remodel really came about out of necessity. We had outgrown our previous space and in order to continue to provide superior care for our patients, expanding proved to be the right and logical next step to take.”

The funding for the renovations came about in large part thanks to The Duke Endowment and various donors that live in the High Country. In total, the renovations cost $1.2 million and took approximately four months to complete.

The Baker Center for Primary Care is recognized by The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a Tier 3 Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH). The PCMH distinction acknowledges the Center’s high-quality of care devoted to emphasizing access, health information technology and partnerships between clinicians and patients.

In addition to the Grand Re-Opening, Dr. Baker, Dr. Amy Chidester, Dr. Jennifer Burgart, Nurse Practitioners Donna Tate and Ella Markland and Certified Nurse Midwife, Heather Jordan are pleased to welcome Nurse Practitioner, Nancy Griffith to their team. Griffith, who previously practiced at Toe River Health District in Newland, began seeing patients at Baker Center on June 2.

To learn more about the Baker Center for Primary Care call 828-737-7711 or visit

Quilt of Valor presented to veteran at Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center

Before last week, Cathy Smith had never met John “Pete” Absher. She was unaware that he was born and raised in Ashe County, enjoyed bluegrass music or had his own Christmas tree farm. She did not know that that he was a father of two, loved to travel or even that he was approaching his 87th birthday. All she knew was that John was a veteran, who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. For Cathy, that was all she needed to know.

Cathy Smith at her sewing machine in her home in Valle Crucis.

Cathy Smith at her sewing machine in her home in Valle Crucis.

Cathy was raised on a farm in a small cotton mill town right outside of Greensboro.While growing up, she performed a variety of farm chores, developed a love for horses and became a fourth generation quilter. After moving to the mountains to study at Appalachian State University, Cathy worked as a horseback riding instructor at both Lees McRae College and Appalachian State University for 30 years. In 2008, after her two boys made it through college, she decided that it was time to hang up her spurs professionally and start a new career in health care.

As the Quality Analyst for Medical Records at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, Cathy oversees the accuracy of all patient records at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital. Cathy has remained an avid quilter and can be found unwinding from a busy day at work at her sewing machine in her home in Valle Crucis.

“Quilting is like cutting firewood,” said Smith with a grin. “It warms you in so many ways.”

This year, Cathy decided to participate in the Quilts of Valor (QOV)program. Established in 2003, its mission is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. Since its inception, nearly 100,000 quilts have been made and presented to these service members.

“When you think about the freedom that we as Americans enjoy, I think it is important to stop and thank the good Lord above and our troops for their service,” said Smith. “The Quilts of Valor program allows quilters like me an opportunity to express our gratitude.”

Cathy’s 2014 New Year’s Resolution goal was to create a Quilt of Valor in memory of her grandfather, a World War II veteran. Not knowing who the quilt recipient would be, actually added to her excitement for the project.

As any good seamstress will tell you, the first step in constructing a good quilt involves gathering the right fabric. After conducting a careful search, she was overjoyed to discover a red, white and blue pattern called A New Beginning.

”I knew I was on the right track when I found that fabric,” smiled Smith. “For so many service members, the Quilt of Valor serves as a shield from nightmares and a symbol of pride. I wanted the recipient of this quilt to feel that they can have hope and A New Beginning.”

From start to finish, it took Cathy two months to put the final touches on her Quilt of Valor. Once complete, she began asking her ARHS colleagues if they knew of any current patients who had served in the military. Her inquiry led her to John “Pete” Absher at the Cancer Center.

Cathy Smith presents John Absher with a Quilt of Valor at the Seby B. Jones Regional Caner Center.

Cathy Smith presents John Absher with a Quilt of Valor at the Seby B. Jones Regional Caner Center.

When John turned 18, the Army drafted him into World War II. After the war, he went on to serve in the military for 20 years before retiring as a Master Sergeant in 1966. Shortly after his retirement, John was hired by Ashe County High School to instruct the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. He taught at the high school for three and a half years before retiring for good. On occasion, some of his former students still affectionately refer to him as “Sarge” when they see him around town.

Unfortunately, John’s carefree retirement years were cut short earlier this year when he was diagnosed with stage 4 Esophageal Cancer. After a consult at Ashe Memorial Hospital, John was referred to Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center in April, where he began chemotherapy treatments.

“Things were certainly starting to stack up against me,” said John while gazing out the window of the Cancer Center. “Looking back, I still find it hard to believe, that while I was coming to grips with the toughest war I’d ever been drafted into, there was a guardian angel already looking out for me.”

John’s guardian angel came in the form of Cathy Smith. Armed with a heart full of compassion, a tender smile and her Quilt of Valor she made her way to the Cancer Center to honor her “unknown” solider.

Before meeting for the first time Cathy said, “I was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I wasn’t sure what to say or how to say it. I just wanted him to feel loved and appreciated.”

The moment shared between the two was timeless. For just a moment, as the Quilt of Valor was being presented, John was able to forget about his cancer. The two hugged, traded tears and shared an unvoiced appreciation for each other that words could not give justice.

“I remember a time when being a serviceman was frowned upon,” said John. “Today, after all of these years, to be honored in this way feels like a dream too good to be true.”

The moment shared between the two strangers ended in a friendship. An uncommon friendship, woven together with fabric, service, respect and thanksgiving.

John still receives treatment at the Cancer Center and will likely for the remainder of his life. However, the retired solder does not complain. He holds his head high and on cool mountain evenings, John enjoys gazing at the stars in his rocking chair, under his quilt, his Quilt of Valor.

To learn more about the Quilts of Valor program visit To learn more about the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center call 828-262-4332 or visit

Celebrating Cancer Survivors

Through our cancer services, we have the opportunity to meet with and talk to many people at different stages of their cancer journey, from diagnosis through to survival. But a recent conversation with one patient stands out. The patient was coming in for her last radiation treatment, and was congratulated by the staff for making it through the treatments and praised for the strength she had shown through it all. Needless to say, the staff were all caught off guard when she responded, “I am not sure how I feel about this being my last treatment. Cancer has become a part of who I am, and I think I will miss it.”

The response spoke volumes about what cancer patients go through. This young woman felt she was no longer a carefree 30-something. She was now a person who had grappled with death, and had won, for now. And not only that, but she would always live with the fear that the cancer could return. And what would the results be next time?

Cancer patients, cancer survivors, and their caregivers and loved ones have gone through a life experience that other people cannot fully understand. It is that very experience that is celebrated and recognized on June 1 each year, Cancer Survivor’s Day. For 27 years, this day has been set aside to raise awareness of cancer prevention tools and educate the public. It’s also an opportunity to hold events and activities that bring cancer survivor’s together to connect with each other and celebrate milestones, as well as to recognize the supporters and loved ones who have been touched by someone with cancer.

Luckily, the support found on Cancer Survivor’s Day is not for one day only. Events like Relay for Life bring together cancer survivors and their loved ones to celebrate their successes while raising money for cancer research to help even more people become survivors. You can be a part of two great events in our area, the Relay for Life at Watauga High School on June 20, and the Relay for Life at Avery High School on July 25.

cancer_center2006Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center offers a range of services for cancer survivors through the Avery County Cancer Resource Center and the Cancer Resource Alliance. Support groups, social counseling, pastoral care, exercise and wellness programs and many other services help cancer survivors through their journey from diagnosis and treatment to living as a cancer survivor.

Whether you are battling cancer now or have in the past and are living as a cancer survivor, remember, you are not alone. We are here for you.

For more information about Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center, call (828) 262-4342 or (828) 262-4332.

Miller Donates Artwork Series to Medical Center

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and Foundation board member and long-time Boone resident, Joe Miller, made a generous donation of original artwork to Watauga Medical Center. The series of paintings appear in Miller’s new children’s book, One Night, Two Moons.

Claire Cline, Sr. Vice President for Patient Care, Joe Miller and Diane Gates, RN, Birthing Center Director

Claire Cline, Sr. Vice President for Patient Care, Joe Miller and Diane Gates, RN, Birthing Center Director

The paintings are located on the 3rd floor of the medical center between the Marchese Birthing Center and the new born nursery. The story in paintings is displayed on one wall, while paintings of the individual characters and additional scenes are displayed on another wall. Miller has condensed the story so that visitors are able to read along with the book as they view the artwork.

“Joe Miller’s paintings are a beautiful addition to our hospital,” shared Rob Hudspeth, Sr. Vice President for System Advancement for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. “I believe children and adults alike will enjoy them.”

Miller, owner of Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff, has also donated a limited number of copies of One Night, Two Moons for sale in the hospital gift shop.

For more information about Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation, visit