The Mountaineers, led by Head Coach Darcie Vincent, scheduled the visit in anticipation of their 3rd Annual Think Pink basketball game against UNCG on Saturday, February 15.
Sandi Cassidy, Director of Oncology Services at the Cancer Center, greeted the student athletes and gave them a tour of the facility. The team asked questions, posed for pictures and exchanged hugs with staff and patients as they explored both the medical and radiation oncology units.
“This Think Pink game is about so much more than basketball,” said Coach Vincent. “It’s about celebrating life and showcasing our love and support for those families impacted by this disease.”
Perhaps the most meaningful moment of their visit took place when the team visited the patients in the chemotherapy infusion room. These patients, often confined to their treatment chairs for hours at a time, were delighted to share a moment of encouragement with the lady Mountaineers. During the visit, the team distributed goodie bags and invitations to attend their Think Pink Play4Kay basketball game.
The Think Pink game day will feature a double header with the ladies playing at 1:30 pm and the men at 4:30 pm against Wofford. Admission to the games is free, but the lady Mountaineers hope fans will donate to the Play4Kay Kay Yow Cancer Fund at the door. Play4Kay, established in honor of former NC State women’s basketball coach Kay Yow, is an initiative to raise awareness about breast cancer and funds for research on the court, across campuses and in communities. Last year, $4,000 was raised in support of cancer research through the Mountaineers Think Pink basketball games.
“My dad is a cancer survivor,” said sophomore, biology major Ashley Bassett-Smith. “I think it’s wonderful that as a team we can give back to the medical community and be a part of something bigger than ourselves.”
February is heart month and to help you get your heart pumping, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) is sponsoring a Zumbathon on Friday, February 21 from 4 – 7 pm at the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center, located at 232 Boone Heights Drive in Boone. The Zumbathon is an extension of the 2nd Annual Heart Shape event, which is taking place on Saturday, February 8 at the Wellness Center.
Registration for the Zumbathon costs $10 and all proceeds will benefit the ARHS THRIVE Scholarship Program. THRIVE is a medically supervised program at the Wellness Center that transitions patients from more acute phases of chronic disease management to wellness. The program, which requires a physician referral, consists of a Cardiopulmonary Track as well as an Oncology Track.
“I am honored to be able to take part in this Zumbathon,” said Gwen Dhing, Aerobics Instructor and Zumba leader at the Wellness Center. “Knowing that 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward such a worthy cause is truly heartwarming.”
Since its inception in 2011, THRIVE has helped 110 patients improve their quality of life. The THRIVE Scholarship Program was established to ensure that all patients, regardless of financial barriers, would be able to benefit from the program.
Heart Shape T-shirts will be on sale for $16 dollars at the Wellness Center during the month of February while supplies last. On average, 40 percent of all T-shirt sales will go toward the THRIVE Scholarship Program. Additional cash or check donations may be made during the event.
Hope was all but lost for Mario Perret-Gentil, 62, who was coming to grips with the reality that his lingering 10 year-old wound would never quite heal or stop hurting. That was until he discovered The Wound Care Center of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS).
A native of Curacao, an island in the West Indies, Mario moved to Boone in 1993 with his wife Diana in hopes of discovering the American dream. Shortly after his move, Mario had a conversation with a few college students who shared that they wished Boone had a fun indoor activity option during the winter months. This request led Mario to open Boone Bowling Center, where he has faithfully served students and the High Country community for the last 29 years.
In 2003, while working in his yard, a stone struck Mario in the shin causing a wound that would haunt him for the next 10 years.
“Despite countless trips to the doctor and a variety of medications, my 8 millimeter wound did not want to close,” said Mario while massaging his leg. “Before I knew it, 10 years had passed and I was still suffering with a lot of pain caused by my wound. Eventually, I discovered that there was a Wound Care Center in Boone and that the team there is outstanding.”
Conveniently located at 169 Doctors Drive in Boone, The Wound Care Center began seeing patients in 2010. The Wound Care providers include Shelly Smith, a wound-educated PA-C (Advanced Practitioner) and June Smith, a certified Wound Ostomy Continence Nurse (WOCN). Harold Frazier, Jr., MD of Watauga Surgical Group serves as the Medical Director of the Wound Care Center.
“At first, Mario was frustrated and did not have a lot of confidence that we would be able to help him,” said June. “In many cases the first step to healing a wound consists of overcoming any anxiety the patient may have as well as gaining confidence in the care that we provide.”
Mario’s wound was a direct result of Venous Stasis disease, a condition in which faulty venous valves allow blood to collect in the lower leg. At first, The Wound Care Center provided Mario with an Unna boot, which is a special gauze bandage used for the treatment of wounds caused by insufficiencies in the leg. However, the long hours and often laborious work involved in running a bowling alley left Mario with swelling at the end of the night.
“In wound care you have to diagnose more than just the wound,” said Shelly empathically. “As a team, our goal is to listen to each patient and understand their daily lifestyle in order to determine the best individualized treatment plan.”
A polymeric membrane dressing was applied in place of the Unna boot to address the swelling issue. This relatively new treatment option is designed to alleviate pain and absorb drainage. This dressing, paired with compression stockings, allowed the wound to heal and Mario to work without side effects or the need for oral medication.
“In a lot of cases, the wound ends up defining the person,” said Shelly. “It is disheartening when we hear patients say they have had their wound for so long that it has completely hindered who they are as a person. Knowing that is a reality, it is very rewarding for us when we are able to help a patient like Mario heal from a wound and return to normal daily activities.”
Mario, who enjoys the serenity of building model ships at his home after long days at work said, “This is the first time in 10 years that I have felt free from my wound and the pain. Now I can enjoy my job, my family and my hobby. I would recommend The Wound Care Center to anyone, as it has restored my health and my quality of life.”
For more information about The Wound Care Center, call 828-262-9520 or visit www.apprhs.org/services/wound-care-center.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System asks that anyone sick with the flu or flu-like symptoms voluntarily refrain from visiting hospitalized family and friends, as well as those persons at the hospital for an outpatient procedure. It is also important that during this time of increased flu and flu like illness in our area, visitors 12 and under should refrain from visiting hospitalized family and friends.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu activity is on the rise in the U.S. with all 50 states reporting sporadic to widespread illness. North Carolina is reporting widespread illness.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s hospital emergency rooms, along with the physician offices and AppUrgent Care, have seen an increase in the number of people presenting with influenza-like illness. While everyone who presents is not tested for the flu, the System’s facilities have reported more than 320 have been tested for flu since November 2013.
“Patients are very vulnerable while in the hospital, so we are appealing to those community members who may be ill with the flu, or exposed to the flu, to refrain from visiting hospitalized family and friends in order to help us protect the patients in our facilities,” stated Dr. Herman Godwin, Chief Medical Officer for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. “Our top priority is to take every appropriate precaution to keep our patients safe.”
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not into your hands.
- If you get sick with flu, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from making them sick.
- Get the recommended seasonal flu vaccine.
- Sore throat
- Body aches
- Runny or stuffy nose
Most people recover from flu after about a week without lasting effects.
Seek emergency medical care if you or a family member has any of these symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve, but then return with fever and worsening cough
- In babies, bluish or gray skin color, lack of responsiveness or extreme irritation
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is working diligently to prevent the spread of flu and appreciates any assistance the public can provide. For more information about the flu, visit www.flu.gov/.
February is heart month and Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) is proud to sponsor its 2nd Annual Heart Shape event on Saturday, February 8, from 9 am – 1 pm at the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center, located at 232 Boone Heights Drive in Boone.
The event will feature a comprehensive health fair with a variety of free screenings and information about ARHS services. The first 30 participants to visit the cardiology table may schedule a free pocket electrocardiogram (EKG) at the Cardiology Center. EKG vouchers will be sold afterwards for $20.
In addition, ARHS is proud to announce that its first Health Talk series of 2014 will take place during Heart Shape. The two-part series will begin with a talk entitled “Atrial Fibrillation” by Cardiologist, Dr. Andrew Hordes at 10 am. The second talk entitled “Cardiac Disease” by Cardiologist, Dr. Joseph Helak will be given at 11 am. Both talks will feature prize drawings and an opportunity to ask questions.
Free fitness classes are also available for participants who would like to get their hearts pumping. The fitness class schedule includes Spin and Yoga at 9:15 am, followed by Zumba and Water Fitness at 10:15 am.
Heart Shape will conclude with a healthy cooking demonstration offered at noon. Additional healthy snacks will be provided throughout the morning by Earth Fare and Bare Essentials.
For more information about Heart Shape, visit www.apprhs.org/heartshape or call 828-268-8960.
Jerry Markland, 65, has a lot to look forward to in 2014 thanks to the Appalachian Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program (ACRP) in Avery County.
Markland, a West Virginia native and Air Force veteran is thankful to finally be receiving positive health results after fighting the battle of his life. Since being diagnosed with coronary artery disease, Markland has persevered through two heart attacks, two open heart surgeries in which 11 vessels were bypassed, multiple stents and the installation of a pacemaker over the past 11 years.
“Those were challenging years for me, my wife Phyllis and our three sons,” said Markland. “Everyone wanted to help but I caught myself pulling away.”
Despite all of his surgical procedures, Markland was disappointed to learn that he was still displaying very limited heart function. His lowest point came in 2009, when he was deemed disabled and unable to continue to work.
In search of nonsurgical alternatives, Markland turned to his trusted physician of 26 years, Dr. David Kimmel of Elk River Medical Associates.
“I have known Jerry for a long time and could tell how frustrated he was with his long suffering heart condition,” said Dr. Kimmel. “That’s why, after witnessing his motivation to get better and reviewing his medical history, I suggested that he participate in our Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program.”
In 2010, Markland enrolled in ACRP. A resident of Elk Park, Markland appreciated the convenient location of the program located in the Sloop Medical Office Plaza adjacent to Williams YMCA of Avery County.
ACRP is a collaborative effort between Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and Appalachian State University’s Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science. The 36 session medically supervised exercise program is designed to reduce the cardiovascular risk factors of the participant’s medical history by improving their heart function and their exercise threshold.
As a new participant, Markland took part in an orientation session, which included a comprehensive assessment of his needs and goals. After completing the assessment, Markland participated in a pre metabolic exercise test which includes an electrocardiogram (EKG) test to determine his baseline aerobic fitness capacity. At which point, an individual exercise plan was created for Markland to follow throughout the course of the program.
As is customary with each participant, Markland’s EKG, heart rate and oxygen saturation levels were monitored during each of his exercise sessions for safety and measurement purposes. Beyond the exercise component of the program, Markland took advantage of the information sessions and the group support available through ACRP.
Upon his successful completion of the program, Markland noticed a significant improvement in his heart function, attitude and ability to perform his daily living activities without requiring a break.
“I was blown away at how my health had dramatically improved since starting cardiopulmonary rehab,” said Markland with a grin. “After reviewing my progress in my post metabolic and EKG scores, I was eager to sign up for another session.”
As is the protocol with ACRP, Markland was reevaluated and his therapy plan modified to maximize his benefit prior to beginning another round of rehabilitation.
“It’s like he has gotten his life back,” said Beth Ann Scott CES Clinical Exercise Physiologist and member of the ACRP team. Scott has worked with and encouraged Markland over the last two years by planning out his exercise program and charting his progress.
“I still remember my first session,” said Markland with a smile. “I was barely able to walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes. Now, after everything I have been through, I can exercise for more than an hour.”
Markland’s restored function comes as an answer to a long awaited prayer. His improved condition has been verified by his doctors, the ACRP team and most importantly his wife Phyllis. The couple plan to celebrate Markland’s recovery with trips to Italy and Africa later this year.
“I could not have done it without the help and encouragement of the ACRP team,” said Markland who is now a three time graduate of the program. With no plans to reenroll, Markland, has already joined Williams YMCA of Avery County and is exercising on his own – a feat few thought would be possible a couple of years ago.
For more information about the Appalachian Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program offered in both Linville and Boone, call 828-737-7069 or visit www.apprhs.org/cardiac-rehab.
Cancer survivor, Jane Eberle, is thankful for the compassionate cancer, surgical and rehabilitative care she received from Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS).
In her early twenties, the ambitious Watauga County native left her home in Blowing Rock with eyes set on Washington D.C. Always fascinated by politics, Eberle spent the next 35 years working in and around Capitol Hill. Her impressive career includes, serving under Congressman Jim Broyhill, as well as, former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.
Eberle’s perennial devotion to her exciting career was eventually overshadowed by the familiar allure of the mountains. In 2002, Eberle decided to move back to the High Country to retrace her favorite hiking trails and spend some more time on the golf course.
Tragedy struck in 2006 when Eberle was diagnosed with breast cancer. Devastated, Eberle elected to have her mastectomy preformed at Watauga Medical Center.
“I love Watauga Medical Center,” said Eberle through a tearful smile. “It is convenient and has provided excellent care for me over the years through each of my procedures.”
In 2009, Eberle was once again a patient at Watauga Medical Center when she had her right hip replaced.
“After my successful hip replacement, everything was going fine. Until last year, when the cancer raised its ugly head again,” said a frustrated Eberle. “I noticed suspicious tumor markers last August and I was diagnosed in October with triple negative breast cancer.”
One of the unfortunate outcomes of triple negative breast cancer is that the only treatment option available is chemotherapy. In January, under the direction of Medical Oncologist, Anne Sobol M.D., Eberle began chemotherapy treatments at the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center. Regrettably, the cancer morphed into metastatic breast cancer and spread to her lower spine and lymph nodes.
Discouraged by the prognosis that chemotherapy would be a necessity for the remainder of her life, Eberle found solace in Paul Young, RN, OCN, Oncology Nurse Navigator at Seby B. Jones Cancer Center. Young has 14 years of experience working with cancer patients. He does a remarkable job partnering with patients and their families, offering assistance with education, emotional support and help obtaining financial assistance.
“Paul is a wonderful encourager,” said Eberle. “He is very attentive to my condition and he recommended that I participate in the Thrive program.”
Offered at the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center, Thrive is a medically supervised program that transitions patients from more acute phases of chronic disease management to wellness. Thrive consists of three components – Rehabilitation, Cardiopulmonary and Oncology.
“Jane was a good candidate for Thrive because she was suffering from the draining effects of chemotherapy,” said Young. “She was very upbeat about the opportunity and willing to take part in the program.”
The Thrive program, offered three days a week, provides a multidisciplinary team approach to wellness. The wellness staff works in collaboration with the patient’s physician to measure outcomes as they transition to a healthier lifestyle.
Eberle shared that she felt exhausted and depressed after each chemotherapy treatment. However, since joining the Thrive program, a little over four months ago, she has regained her strength and joined a support group.
“I cannot say enough good things about the Thrive staff,” said Eberle. “They keep a good eye on us as we make our way through a variety of exercises each session. Besides feeling better, I would have to say the most encouraging part is forming instantaneous friendships with other cancer survivors. We are all there for the same reason and we encourage each other.”
Eberle, who recently decided to have her left hip replaced at Watauga Medical Center, shared that she is very impressed with how health care has advanced in the High Country during her lifetime.
“When I was growing up, the hospital was still located across from where Stick Boy Bread is now, said Eberle. “We in Watauga County are so blessed to have our present facilities. It enables the residents to have quality healthcare without having to go off the mountain. I am so impressed with Richard Sparks and how the care is now so expansive.”
Eberle, who is looking forward to winter so she can wear sweaters once again said, “My faith is what keeps me going. I believe God has a plan so I can have hope.”
For more information about Thrive, call 828-266-1060 or visit www.apprhs.org/thrive.
For more information about Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center, visit www.apprhs.org/sbjcc.
Thanks to the Cannon Memorial Hospital Summer Celebration, a fundraiser sponsored by Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation, $650,000 was raised to purchase a new 64 Slice CT Scanner for Cannon Memorial Hospital (CMH).
The new scanner was purchased in July 2013 as an upgrade to CMH’s existing 16 Slice CT Scanner. Strategically selected by the Foundation as an optimal fundraising initiative, the 64 Slice CT Scanner serves as the first block in a domino effect to enhance Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) as a whole.
After the installation was complete at CMH, ARHS wasted no time in “moving some furniture” around the system. The 16 Slice CT Scanner removed from CMH was installed at Watauga Medical Center (WMC) to complement its existing 64 Slice CT Scanner and to replace its 4 Slice CT Scanner. WMC’s 4 Slice CT Scanner was relocated to Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center (SBJRCC).
“It is wonderful to have a planning CT now located in our facility,” said Radiation Oncologist Dr. Yvonne Mack, Medical Director of the SBJRCC. “The CT, allows our patients to stay under one roof for convenient, patient centered care.”
All the CT Scanners use the same platform, which allows for prior study comparisons and access to patient treatment plans across the healthcare system.
“It is extraordinary to consider the ever expanding footprint of influence a single gift can create,” said Rob Hudspeth, Senior Vice President for Advancement for ARHS.
To learn more about Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation, visit www.apprhs.org/foundation.
Corrie Freeman, a fourth grade teacher at Hardin Park Elementary School, taught more than reading and arithmetic to her class this year.
The story began last May when Freeman, a native of Spruce Pine, was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Described by her collogues as “selfless and just awesome,” Freeman decided early on to look for the silver linings.
“Through tears, I remember asking if it would be possible for me to receive my consultations in Charlotte and my radiation treatment here [in Boone] so I could continue to teach,” said Freeman. “I was delighted to find out that Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center, located in Boone, was well equipped to provide state-of-the-art care for my cancer.”
By the beginning of the school year, Freeman, weary from a long summer of trips to Charlotte and radiation treatments in Boone, was more resolved than ever to teach her 16th year of fourth graders.
“My goal from the beginning was to teach the class that cancer is not scary,” said Freeman. “I knew there would be questions, like when my hair began to fall out, but I promised myself from the beginning that if God would allow me to continue to teach, I would continue to pour out His love for others.”
One example of this can be found in a book Freeman read to her class at the beginning of the school year called “Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children” by Carol McCloud. Freeman explained to her class that in the year ahead they would grow in areas beyond that of the textbook. That they would learn the importance of using the time they have been given to make a difference in the world.
As the holiday season approached, it became apparent that Freeman’s positive outlook on life proved to be contagious. During a class discussion, a student raised his hand and asked “Miss. Freeman, can we do anything to fill the buckets of other people with cancer this Christmas?”
After several minutes of brainstorming and a few phone calls, the students were delighted to learn that they could donate gifts for patients at the Cancer Center in Boone where their teacher had been receiving care.
Like elves in Santa’s workshop the students all agreed to purchase buckets of their own, 22 in all, and fill them with Christmas candies, ornaments and gifts. They also wrote cards with encouraging words like “You’re brave, strong, courageous, and you have a warrior’s heart.”
As the sleigh, Freeman’s Toyota Camry, was being loaded with buckets the students were delighted to learn that their teachers treatment, over the past seven months, had worked and she would be considered cancer free by Christmas.
“I am so thankful for the love and support of my students,” said Freeman. “The fact that they rallied around me and wanted to help others battling cancer had a huge impact on my own Christmas healing miracle.”
Last week, Freeman, with two of her students at her side, made the special Christmas delivery to the Cancer Center. As the students distributed the buckets with hugs attached, Freeman thanked the staff for their love, support and healing treatment.
For more information about Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center or how you can help “fill the buckets” of patients via donation support visit www.apprhs.org/cancercenter.
As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season approaches, the Garcia family pauses to give thanks for the newest member of their family, four-month-old Sofia Garcia.
Parents, Maribel and Luis Garcia, with five-year-old daughter, Rosa, are looking forward to celebrating their first Christmas with their newborn baby. Sofia was delivered earlier this year by Baker Center for Primary Care‘s Dr. Jennifer Burgart at Cannon Memorial Hospital (CMH), a member of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. After spending an exhausting 13 hours in labor and facing a potential cesarean section, Dr. Burgart was able to safely deliver the baby naturally. “Thank God for Dr. Burgart,” said Maribel with a grateful smile. “Nothing builds your trust in a doctor faster than having them deliver your child.”
The Garcias were so impressed with Dr. Burgart’s efforts that the entire family became her patients.
Dr. Burgart, who specializes in family medicine with obstetrics said, “The aspect of medicine that I enjoy the most is partnering with families to provide care from their pregnancy to the birth of their child and beyond. In instances like this one, it is very rewarding to care for Sofia as she continues to grow and develop. Becoming an integral part of a woman’s prenatal development by following her entire pregnancy, delivering her newborn and participating in her child’s development through the lifespan is what truly makes family medicine with obstetrics unique.”
For the Garcias, who live in Linville, family time is invaluable. And the close proximity of Baker Center for Primary Care, means less time traveling and more time spent at home with one another. As the snow begins to fall and travel becomes limited, even Rosa appreciates the convenient Linville location of her doctor, “I like Dr. Burgart because she is close, nice and always brings me a lollipop.”
In addition to selecting Dr. Burgart as their family physician, the Garcias have implemented another new tradition this year as well. Recently, the family visited a local tree farm to cut their Christmas tree. They consider themselves blessed and are looking forward to a happy and healthy Christmas season spent together.
Located at the Sloop Medical Office Plaza next to Cannon Memorial Hospital in Linville, Baker Center for Primary Care is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a Tier 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home. The practice is home to Drs. Charlie Baker, Jennifer Burgart and Amy Chidester as well as Donna Tate, FNP, Ella Markland, FNP, Barbara Dean PA-C, and Heather Jordan, CNM. For more information about Dr. Burgart who practices family medicine with obstetrics or any other providers at the Baker Center for Primary Care call 828-737-7711 or visit www.apprhs.org/arma/baker-center.