New Telestroke technology available at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center recently partnered with Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) to provide Telestroke services at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital.

The Wake Forest Baptist Telestroke Network serves in approximately 24 counties in western North Carolina and southern Virginia. Its goal is to assist community hospitals in their efforts to prevent death and reduce disability caused by strokes. By collaborating with the Telestroke Network, ARHS now has access to 24/7 acute stroke experts via two-way real time video consultation. Thanks to this network, emergency room physicians are able to receive on demand consultation to help diagnose strokes, develop care plans and take action if necessary.

What the patient can expect

RP-Lite® Telestroke robot used at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital.

RP-Lite® Telestroke robot used at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital.

The majority of stroke patients enter the hospital through the emergency department where they are treated by a team of skilled nurses and physicians. Thanks to Telestroke technology, a robot known as RP-Lite® has joined the care team. The technologically advanced robot allows stroke expert physicians, located in the Wake Forest Baptist Stroke Center, to have remote access via two-way live video and audio capability with patients and the medical team at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital. In addition, the stroke experts at Wake Forest Baptist have access to the patient’s medical records and diagnostic test results.

“The RP-Lite allows the Wake Forest Baptist stroke physicians to interact directly with patients, family members and hospital staff just as if they are standing at the bedside,” said Debbie Shook, Stroke Coordinator at ARHS. “Think of stroke as a brain attack – it is an emergency and every minute counts. Traditionally, the hospital would have to call in a neurologist to evaluate the patient which took time. Now, thanks to Telestroke, stroke patients can receive treatment much faster.”

Warning signs and symptoms of stroke include:

• Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, usually on one side of the body.
• Difficulty speaking or understanding language.
• Decreased or blurred vision in one or both eyes.
• Sudden, severe headaches.
• Unexplained loss of balance or dizziness.

If you or someone around you notice one or more of these warning signs, seek immediate medical attention – Call 911.

Watauga Medical Center has earned and maintained The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for certification as a Primary Stroke Center since 2011.

To learn more about The Stroke Center or Appalachian Regional Healthcare System visit

Enjoy the Outdoors Safely

One of the great things about summer is the opportunity to get outside and play. No matter what your age, those carefree days of summer vacation aren’t totally lost even in adulthood. There’s something about summer that brings out the kid in all of us, whether we’re doing cannonballs at the swimming pool or finding beautiful butterflies on a hike through the mountains.

There are many health benefits to being outdoors. Of course, the activity gives you exercise, which is good for your heart’s health and weight management. The sunshine gets Vitamin D to your body, which helps your body absorb calcium. And just being outside, breathing the fresh air and taking in the bright blue sky and beautiful trees is a great stress reliever.

Just be sure to stay safe and protect yourself when taking part in outdoor activities during the summer. Here are a few tips to help keep you safe and healthy while taking advantage of all the outdoor fun available in the summer!

Stay Hydratedbottled-water

It’s important to drink water all year long. According to the Mayo Clinic, men need about 3 liters of water a day and women need about 2.2 liters. It’s even more important to stay hydrated in the summer, when the intense heat and humidity can dehydrate us faster than at other times of the year. But how many people do you hear say, “I just don’t like drinking water?” If you’re one of those people, here are some easy ways to stay hydrated.

  • Keep a water bottle with you during the day. You’ll hardly notice that you’re sipping all day.
  • Add flavor to your water. Sugar-free packets and liquid are a good way to liven up plain water.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables. Things like strawberries, cantaloupe, cucumbers and zucchini not only have high water content, you’re also getting other great vitamins and minerals.

Practice water safety.

Water sports are popular during the summer months, because not only are they fun, they’re a great way to stay active and cool at the same time. Here are a few things to remember when out on the water:

  • In North Carolina, everyone under 13 must wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) when on a recreational vessel that is underway on a lake or river.
  • No one under 14 is allowed to drive a water craft, and 14-16 year olds must have completed a boating safety course before driving.
  • When swimming, always swim with a buddy.
  • Never leave children unattended around water.

Wear Sunscreen!

Whether you’re at the pool, hiking in the woods, playing golf or working in the garden, be sure to apply sunscreen every time you’re going outside. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s  list of approved sunscreens to make sure you’re protected. And follow these tips from the American Academy of Dermatology to prevent burns.

  • Use at least an ounce to appropriately cover your body.
  • Reapply every 2 hours, or after swimming or sweating profusely. Some sunscreens may have different guarantees, so be sure to read and follow the instructions for reapplication for the brand that you use.
  • Check the expiration date on your sunscreen.
  • Use SPF 30 or higher.
  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen to protect against UVA and UVB rays.


Hound Ears Open Committee visits Construction Site of The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge 

On Wednesday, July 1, members of the 14th Annual Hound Ears Open committee toured the construction site of The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge. Hound Ears Club has partnered with the healthcare system on numerous funding projects, two of which are the Cardio Room at the Paul Broyhill Wellness Center and Emergency Room in the Watauga Medical Center.
“Over the years, Hound Ears Club has been a wonderful contributor, not only to this Chestnut Ridge project, but towards the Healthcare System as a whole,” Rob Hudspeth, Senior Vice-President of Advancement for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) stated. “We are so grateful for these past five decades of support and look forward to working with them in the future to help patients in our community,” he added. This year, Hound Ears Club set a goal to raise $500,000 towards the new post acute care facility.
Hound Ears Open Committee

Hound Ears Open Committee

“We, here at Hound Ears, are so proud to be a part of the work that’s being done by Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. ARHS is looking towards the future and we are so excited to be a part of this vision. Chestnut Ridge, the new post-acute care facility, is being built right here in Blowing Rock and will be a vital asset for the community. This modern 87,500 square-foot facility will provide the most modern care possible for us all,” Hound Ears Open Co-Chair Libba Gaither said.

The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge is approximately 50% complete and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2016.

For more information about the project, visit

Get in the Swim of Things!

Living a healthy lifestyle means staying active. Getting a little bit of exercise every day is important to help keep your heart healthy as well as keep your muscles strong. But in the heat and humidity of summer in the South, it can be hard to keep up your workout routine, especially if you are accustomed to working out in the outdoors, running on a trail or walking around a track.

Luckily, even in our area well-known for its winter sports, there are plenty of great places to swim and enjoy water sports, both excellent ways to stay active while keeping cool.

Swimming is a good exercise for many reasons.Swimmer

  • There’s no impact on the ground, which makes it easy on the joints. It reduces the risk of injury and stress on your body.
  • It’s a good cardiovascular activity, getting your heart rate up without all the sweat of running on a treadmill.
  • Swimming burns calories.
  • On hot days, it’s cool and refreshing.

Just make sure when you’re swimming outside or enjoying any outdoor sports in the summer to apply sunscreen. Use at least SPF 30 or higher, and make sure to reapply after you’ve been in the water or every couple of hours. Learn about the Top 10 Swimming Holes around Boone.

If you’re looking for a great place to swim indoors or if you don’t know how to swim, check out the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center. It’s never too late to learn how to swim. The Wellness Center offers aquatic programs ranging from low impact to high intensity and welcome all levels to participate. Programs include aquatic personal training, arthritis aquatic program, family swim times, H20 fitness, low impact aquatic aerobics, prenatal aquatic aerobics, swim clinics, swim lessons and more. For more information, call (828) 266-1060.




Hope Restored: Farm owner overcomes adversity thanks to AppOrtho

Apple Hill Farm in Banner Elk, NC, is one of the best kept secrets in the High Country. The picturesque 43 acre property, which overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains, is home to an assortment of animals including: alpacas, donkeys, horses, goats, chickens and a miniature pig named Mr. Pickles. It all began in 2001, when Lee Rankin, 54, a budding author with a culinary background, decided to start a farm deep in the mountains of North Carolina.

Lee Rankin with her horses at Apple Hill Farm.

Lee Rankin with her horses at Apple Hill Farm.

“I’ll never forget our first year on the farm,” said Rankin. “I was a single mother, raising a son, who was only two when we moved here. We faced many challenges while starting the farm. We lost four alpacas the first spring in a mountain lion attack. It was devastating, but we rebuilt our herd and recovered.”

No stranger to adversity, the breast cancer survivor, was able to overcome these early struggles and eventually open the farm up to the public. Looking back, Rankin said, “This farm wouldn’t be what it is today without those challenges, it is the tests that sometimes define what we become.”

Last year, her faith was put to the test, when she injured her knee while stepping into a goat pen. Unable to bear weight on her knee, she made a doctor’s appointment and had an MRI. A week later, after reviewing the MRI of her knee, the doctor informed Rankin that surgery was not needed. Her knee had improved some, so she left hopeful that her knee would continue to improve with time.

Rankin stopped and bought three bags of frozen peas on the way home, her preferred method of icing her knee. Back at the farm she had good days and bad days with her knee, never getting back to being able to safely interact with the animals, lift a hay bale or carry a water bucket. Unwilling to give up, she was encouraged by a friend to get a second opinion at Appalachian Regional Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center (AppOrtho) in Boone.

“I kept telling myself, I need to be able to move,” said Rankin. “After my friend told me that AppOrtho is the official sports medicine provider for App State athletics, I thought, surely they will be able to get me up and moving again.”

Determined, Rankin scheduled an appointment the following day with orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Bill DeVault (who she had already met twice at Boone Chamber Events.) After examining her knee, Dr. DeVault concluded that her pain was a result of inflammation which was preventing the healing process. He explained that she could choose between two treatment options, steroid pills or shots, to reduce her inflammation and improve her mobility. Rankin opted for the shots, which Dr. DeVault carefully administered during her appointment. Dr. DeVault went on to explain that the shot would not completely cure her knee pain but it would get her up and moving again.

“It was remarkable to go from one doctor who said I was out of options to another doctor who said there is hope,” said Rankin. “Dr. DeVault saw me as a person. He listened to my concerns and treated me with the utmost respect. It felt like I had a true partner in the health of my knee.”

Within a few days, Rankin’s knee pain subsided and she noticed a significant improvement in her range of motion. For the first time in several weeks, she was able to walk without crutches and care for her animals. Two things she feared she might never be able to do again.

“Looking back, we may not understand every trial that comes into our lives but we have a choice to stay positive and believe,” said Rankin, a year after her injury. “In this case, I’m thankful I have Dr. DeVault, a doctor who is committed to keeping me moving.”

To learn more about Appalachian Regional Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center, call 828-386-BONE or visit