Christmas Tree at Cannon Memorial Hospital

Photo courtesy of Brenda Hoss

Photo courtesy of Brenda Hoss

The 19 ft. Christmas tree at Cannon Memorial Hospital (CMH) was donated by Clay & Bev Cuthbertson of the Snowy Mountain Christmas Tree Farm in Crossnore.  The diameter or depth of the tree is 16 ft.   The entire CMH Plant Operations Department, along with several men who volunteered to help, raised this huge tree to its upright position—no easy task.  CMH Plant Operations – Kyle Lee, David Cornett, L. D. Vance, Dennis Henson, Jeff Hughes and Drew Staton – did all the decorating.  Several levels of scaffolding had to be assembled to reach the top and all around.

Kyle Lee is credited with the theme which depicts the tearing of the Temple curtain when Christ “gave up the ghost” on the cross (His actual death).  The 23,000 lights are purple, the color of the curtain as described in the Bible.  There are gold Christmas ornaments, i.e. stars, bells, tiny angels, etc. which represent the “exquisitely embroidered gold ” on the curtain.  There are large silver rings near the top of the tree which represent the curtain holders.  A gold rope threads through the silver rings representing the  wooden curtain rod that was overlaid in gold.  The top of the tree is decorated in white and includes two angels, then there is a large “V” shape, decorated in white, that represents the tearing of the curtain.  There are a few red lights at the point the tear begins, representing the blood stains from Christ’s hands.

High Country native shop’s local for healthcare

For High Country residents, the saying “Shop Local” is more than an expression, it’s a way of life. The phrase, which typically refers to the area’s shopping, adventure and culinary attractions, took on a whole new meaning for Ryan Postlethwait, 36, after suffering a recent tennis injury.

Earlier this summer, the well-known Blowing Rock native was enjoying an afternoon game of doubles, when he charged the net to return a volley and heard a loud pop in his knee. Injured and in need of medical attention, his friends transported the hobbled athlete to AppUrgent, in Boone.

Ryan Postlethwait with Dr. Bill DeVault.

Ryan Postlethwait with Dr. Bill DeVault.

AppUrgent Care Center, a member of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), is conveniently located on Highway 321 near Watauga Medical Center. Within an hour of his injury, he was stabilized and provided with crutches and a knee immobilizing brace. An xray and exam was completed at AppUrgent and he was referred to Appalachian Regional Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center (AppOrtho), in Boone. Ryan was pleased to discover that because both offices are members of Appalachian Regional Medical Associates (ARMA) his electronic medical records (x-rays) would easily transfer from one office to the other.

“I had visited AppOrtho once before when they hosted their Grand Opening last year through the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce,” said Ryan. “Because I had previously met the doctors and taken a tour of their state-of-the-art facility, I felt at ease returning this time as a patient.”

Early the following week, Ryan was scheduled for a consult with Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Bill DeVault. After reviewing the x-ray and conducting several functionality tests, Dr. DeVault recommended an MRI scan due to substantial instability in the knee. For convenience reasons, Ryan had his MRI performed at Cannon Memorial Hospital, in Linville NC. The MRI results revealed that he had suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear.

“I was very impressed with Dr. DeVault,” said Ryan. “He took great care in explaining the pros and cons of each non-operative and surgical treatment plan that was available to me. After considering all of my options, it was apparent that based on my active lifestyle, surgery was my best long-term solution.”

Ryan’s ACL reconstruction surgery was scheduled a week later at Watauga Medical Center. This minimally invasive procedure involves taking a piece of the patients own tendon and making a graft of it to reconstruct and anchor the torn ligament. The successful outpatient procedure took approximately an hour to complete.

“This was my first surgery and I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive,” said Ryan. “However, because of Dr. DeVault’s steady demeanor and quiet confidence I took great comfort in knowing that I was in very capable hands.”

After surgery, Dr. DeVault recommended that Ryan undergo physical therapy at The Rehabilitation Center, in Boone.

Ryan Postlethwait working with Chris Kent MPT, ATC at The Rehabilitation Center in Boone.

Ryan Postlethwait working with Chris Kent MPT, ATC at The Rehabilitation Center in Boone.

“Ryan was a good candidate for outpatient rehab because it would allow him to maintain his work-life balance while regaining his actual balance in physical therapy,” said Dr. DeVault. “As the Medical Director of The Rehabilitation Center and the Wellness Center, I assured him that I would continue to monitor his progress as he traveled the road to full recovery.”

On his first day of rehab, Ryan was paired with Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer, Chris Kent, MPT, ATC. After conducting a complete evaluation of the knee, Chris designed a therapy treatment program that would decrease Ryan’s post operative swelling and restore his muscle function. After only a month of rehab, Ryan had noticed a significant improvement in his knee strength and range of motion. He is on track to make a full recovery and be able to return to the tennis court within eight and ten months.

“As a native, who lives and works locally, I appreciated being able to shop local for my health care,” said Ryan. “Literally, every touch point of my care from AppUrgent, to AppOrtho, to imaging at Cannon Memorial Hospital, to surgery at Watauga Medical Center and physical therapy at The Rehabilitation Center took place through ARHS. My experience with the healthcare system’s integrated continuum of care was seamless and first-class.”

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

Give the Gift of Life: Give Blood

The slogan used by the American Red Cross has become familiar to us over the years, but don’t let its familiarity weaken its impact. What they’re saying is true. Every time you donate blood, you’re giving the gift of life to another person. And what better time to do that then now, during the holidays when gift-giving season is upon us?

blood dropBlood donations typically fall during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is understandable as so many of us are busy with parties, shopping trips, baking special treats and spending time with extended family. But taking an hour or so out of just one day to help keep the blood banks filled can make a big difference in someone’s life.

What is your blood used for? Blood transfusions are used in many different ways to treat people, including:

  • Cancer patients
  • Burn patients
  • Premature babies
  • Victims of traumatic injuries
  • People undergoing various forms of surgery

In addition to helping others, taking time to donate blood can also be helpful for you. Before you can be stuck with the needle, someone will take your blood pressure, check your pulse and record your hemoglobin, so it’s like a free health screening!

The American Red Cross makes it easy to find a blood drive near you with their Locate a Blood Drive page, and there are quite a few in our area during the month of December, including one at Watauga Medical Center on December 29. See you there!

It’s Not Too Late to Vaccinate!

December 7-13 is National Influenza Vaccination Week, and the CDC set aside this week to get the word out that it’s not too late to vaccinate! Employee Flu Shot

Flu season usually peaks in December and February, although the timeframe for people contacting the flu can go from October through March. Anyone who has had the flu knows just how miserable it can be. More than just a run-of-the-mill cold, the flu really knocks you down and puts you out of circulation. Signs and symptoms of the flu may include fever, muscle aches, runny or stuffy nose, headache, chills, sore throat, cough, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Thank goodness we have a vaccine that can help prevent the disease! And getting the vaccine not only protects you against many strains of the flu virus, it also helps keep the disease from spreading.

The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu shot. There are plenty of vaccines available, and it’s pretty easy to find a place to get your shot. Just call your family doctor or visit one of the many area locations offering the flu shot, such as Boone Drug, CVS and Walgreens.

Remember, getting the shot is great, but you still should practice good health habits in order to stay well this winter.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • When you don’t have access to a sink, use hand sanitizer.
  • Get plenty of sleep and exercise.
  • Try not to touch your nose, mouth or eyes.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough.

And if you do happen to get sick, stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care. The best way to recover is to drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest, something you can’t do at work or school.

For more information about the flu or the flu vaccine, talk to your primary care provider or call AppUrgent Care at (828) 265-5505.

Get Ready to Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking can be one of the hardest things you do in your life. It is more than just a bad habit, it is an addiction, one that makes you dependent on cigarettes in your daily life. As with many things in life, quitting smoking can be a little easier if you have the support of people and loved ones helping you through the tough times. That’s what makes the Great American Smokeout such a great opportunity! Join millions of Americans on November 20 as they take the first steps in quitting or make plans to quit smoking.

Held every year on the third Thursday of November, the Great American Smokeout not only encourages people to quit smoking, but also draws attention to the chronic diseases an deaths caused by smoking helps promote various anti-tobacco movements and legislation.

stop_smokingThanks to the awareness of the dangers that come with smoking, including second-hand smoke, things are much better now than they were years ago. Most hospitals and schools are now smoke-free zones, and thanks to the legislation passed in 2009, restaurants and bars in North Carolina are smoke-free.

Yet almost 1 in 5 Americans continue to smoke, putting themselves and others at risk. According to the CDC, smokers are more likely to develop heart disease, stroke and COPD than non-smokers. And it’s not just lung cancer that is a greater risk for smokers, cigarettes can also cause cancer almost anywhere in the body, including the throat, tongue, esophagus, bladder, kidneys, stomach, pancreas and liver. It’s no coincidence that the Great American Smokeout falls in the month of November, when the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute is promoting COPD Awareness Month and the American Lung Association promotes Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

The good news is that once you quit, the risks start to go away, with circulation and lung functions improving as quickly as 2 weeks.

The important thing is to take advantage of your resources to help you quit smoking, on November 20 and for good. Talk with your doctor about prescriptions that can help. And you can find lots of support at QuitlineNC ( when things get rough, and ideas to help get you through. In honor of the Great American Smokeout this year, the North Carolina Quitline is offering eight weeks of free nicotine patches to any tobacco user who registers to quit on November 20th. For more information, call 1-800-QUITNOW.