Our Behind-the-Scenes Heroes

Laboratory Week – April 19 – 25, 2015

This week, we’d like to take some time to honor those people who work hard every day to help people feel better, but often don’t get the recognition they deserve. April 19-25 is Laboratory Week, set aside to honor laboratory professionals. This year’s theme, “Not all heroes wear capes, some wear lab coats,” rings true to almost anyone who has ever visited a doctor’s office or spent time in the hospital.



It might seem routine to run a fast-strep test, but when you get those antibiotics that immediately make your throat feel better, it’s a small miracle. For the cancer patient needing a transfusion, the laboratory professional is a saint who not only makes sure the blood is safe but keeps comfort a high priority during the procedure. From reading Pap smears and cholesterol screenings to interpreting biopsies and identifying bacteria, laboratory professionals work every day performing specialized tests that help doctors prevent or diagnose and treat diseases. They also work directly with patients to perform procedures and services, putting a face to an often overlooked profession.



Nationwide, more than 300,000 medical laboratory professionals perform and interpret more than 10 billion laboratory tests in the United States every year. And here at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System our team of 49 laboratory professionals and 11 pathology professionals at our hospitals and in the Outpatient Imaging and Lab Center perform and interpret 550,000 tests a year.

It’s nice to know that your health and well-being is in the hands of an entire team of caring individuals. We’re all familiar with the nurse who checks our vitals and the doctor who prescribes us medicine, but thanks to Lab Week, we now know there’s much more work going on behind the scenes. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of specially trained individuals who understand what to look for in petri dishes and through microscopes, we are all able to lead healthier lives.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System has a new uniformed look

On Wednesday, April 15, 2015, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) will have a new look. Employees who work in patient care areas will begin wearing color-coordinated apparel, specific to their job function.

No one wakes up in the morning wanting to go to the hospital. They are glad to know the hospital is there, but view the building as a confusing labyrinth of hallways filled with busy medical professionals taking care of sick patients. For this reason, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System actively listens to patient feedback in order to improve the overall patient experience.licensed nurses

The change to color-coordinated apparel came about after a recent patient satisfaction survey revealed that it would be helpful if patients could more easily identify healthcare employees within the hospital. For example, licensed nurses will wear solid navy blue or solid white uniforms and Nursing Assistants will wear turquoise.

“Our top priority is to provide exceptional patient care in every sense of the word,” said Amy Crabbe, Vice President of People Services at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. “After listening to our patients, ARHS feels that this uniform change will go a long way toward helping patients identify and feel more comfortable when interacting with our healthcare staff.”

Approximately 700 employees, ranging from admitting staff to physicians, will begin wearing color-coordinated apparel to help patients and family members more easily identify them and their area of medical expertise. Appalachian Regional Healthcare System appreciates the feedback from patients and is excited about enhancing your patient experience.

To learn more about the uniform change at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, click here to visit the Uniformity page on our website.

Hospitals to conduct Emergency Preparedness Exercise

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) will conduct an emergency preparedness exercise at Cannon Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, April 14 and at Watauga Medical Center on Wednesday, April 15.

The exercise is intended to improve the local response and collaborative decision-making ability of the hospitals, local fire departments and local emergency services.

Emergency Sign

The emergency exercise scenarios at both hospitals will be caused by a plausible yet fictitious fire on campus. There will not be an actual fire during either exercise, however, the public may witness smoke rising from Cannon Memorial Hospital on August 14 and from Watauga Medical Center on August 15.

The exercise will take place in unoccupied patient units and will utilize staff not assigned to work that day. Patients at both facilities will not be affected or at risk at any time during the exercise. All services and scheduled procedures will continue as normal. The exercise time will not been made public to preserve the integrity of the event.

The annual emergency preparedness exercises are another way that ARHS and local emergency agencies partner to make life better and safer in the High Country.

For more information contact Gillian Baker, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, at 828-262-8958.

Celebrate Occupational Therapists!

OccupationalThearpyGetting clothes from the washing machine to the dryer, backing a car out of a parking space, cutting meat with a knife and fork — these everyday chores are things that many of us take for granted. But for people who have a physical disability, are recovering from a stroke or an injury, or are experiencing cognitive changes, these daily activities can seem almost impossible.

Most of us are happiest when we are able to lead fully functioning, independent lives. Occupational therapists help people do just that. By working with the individual to create a customized plan, an occupational therapist can help improve a person’s ability to perform daily activities. In honor of Occupational Therapy Month, we wanted to take time to share some of the amazing work these people do in their career.

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc., occupational therapy practitioners have a holistic perspective, in which the focus is on adapting the environment and/or task to fit the person. If you’ve ever seen an example of occupational therapy in action, you know just how amazing that is. The tools and techniques might seem simple, but the thought and inspiration that goes into working with each individual client is anything but simple. And the rewards great, as you watch someone learn to take control of their lives.

One of the friends of our hospital first learned the great work occupational therapists do as a college freshman. Her roommate, Cynthia, was a physically handicapped person who had spent most of her life being dressed by her mother and taken care of by friends and family. She attended a small, private high school so she would be able to walk where she needed without getting tired. But when she applied for and got into the college of her dreams, her parents knew she needed some skills other than her academic prowess to help her succeed. They sent her to a summer camp for one-on-one occupational therapy.

When Cynthia finished camp, she came home with special tools to help her get her own socks and shoes on, new ways to pick things up from the ground and even a lesson in how to do laundry, with the help of a special reaching tool. Thanks to the work of talented occupational therapists, Cynthia’s parents felt comfortable leaving their daughter at a college six hours away from home, and Cynthia was able to lead as active a lifestyle as any other freshman on campus.

Stories like this are the true testament of the difference occupational therapists make in people’s lives. They are out there every day, helping the elderly remain independent, giving kids with behavioral or developmental delays or disorders the tools they need to maintain positive behaviors in all environments, teaching people the skills they need to adapt to life after a stroke or an injury, and helping small children improve their motor skills to have better writing. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the many different things occupational therapists do to help people live full, happy lives.

If you know someone who might benefit from time with an occupational therapist, call The Rehabilitation Center in Boone at (828) 268-9043 or Linville at (828) 737-7520. We have a great staff whose primary goal is to help people live up to their full potential.

Thank a Doctor!

Did you know that March 30 is National Doctor’s Day?  It was officially made a holiday in 1991, but the tradition of honoring doctors on March 30 got its start almost 100 years ago. In 1933, Eudora Brown Almond, a doctor’s wife herself, thought it would be nice to honor the local doctors for all their hard work and dedication to the community, and organized a luncheon. She also drafted a resolution which was passed by the Barrow County Medical Alliance that the physicians be honored each year on March 30, a date significant because it was the day anesthesia was first administered to a patient.

doctorA lot has changed for doctors since the 1930s. House calls are a thing of the past, and doctors today specialize in certain fields, making it less likely that one doctor will both deliver babies and ease the pain of the elderly. But even though the way we practice medicine is different, filled with life-saving drugs and amazing technologies that help us diagnose and treat people in ways we never could have imagined 100 years ago, the primary role of a doctor has not changed at all — to care for people, in sickness and with preventative care and screenings, to help us all live our lives as healthy as possible.

Many doctors put in long hours, spending time at their computers long after the waiting rooms are empty and the office is closed. They care deeply about their patients, dreading having to bring bad news to anxious patients and worrying about the people they see during the day, from sick children to elderly patients who might be in need of medical attention but mostly need companionship.

We often take our doctors for granted. They’re always there for us when we need them, but we really don’t think about them when we don’t need them. But take a minute to think about how much a part of your life your doctor (or doctors) are. When you’re sick they give you the medicine and care you need to get better quickly, they help set up screenings to make sure you stay healthy, they are there when your babies are born and they’re there to comfort anxious parents worried over the slightest fever. When you stop to think about how much doctors have done for you and your loved ones over your lifetime, it’s almost overwhelming.

So take some time on March 30 to say thank you to these people who care so much for others. Something as simple as a thank-you card can mean a lot.

And if you don’t have a primary care physician of your own, now is a great time to go in for a check-up and get in with a practice. Visit www.apprhs.org and click on the Find a Physician box in the top right corner or visit https://apprhs.org/arma.  Then the next time you’re in need of a doctor’s care, it’s just a phone call away.