Watauga Medical Center
During Perioperative Nurse Week, November 11-15, 2013, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) recognizes its perioperative nurses for their important role and commitment to safe patient care. Perioperative nurses specialize in the care of patients immediately before, during and after surgical and other invasive procedures.
In 1979, Operating Room, or OR, Nurse Day was established by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN). A few years later, the observance was expanded to a full week. In 2000, OR Nurse Week was changed to Perioperative Nurse Week to more accurately reflect the broad spectrum of care provided to surgical patients by these nurses.
On October 4, 2013, Governor Pat McCrory proclaimed the week of November 11-15, 2013, as “Perioperative Nurse Week” in North Carolina. The proclamation highlights the contributions these registered nurses make to patient safety and the opportunities and challenges facing the profession.
Joan Messner, BSN, MHA, CNOR, Director of Surgical Services at ARHS said “The perioperative nurses at both Watauga Medical Center (WMC) and Cannon Memorial Hospital (CMH) are truly invaluable. Their commitment to outstanding patient care is the cornerstone to a successful surgical department.”
ARHS is honoring these nurses during the recognition week.
By: Lisa Shelton, LCSW
Eva Trivette-Clark, MA, LPA
Endless grey skies, drizzle to snow mixtures, and wind so gusty you see it coming before it hits you paints a not-so-colorful stretch of winter weather typically found in the High Country. Days of dark, dreary weather have been known to make some folks come down with the winter blues or its more extreme version, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
“The winter blues are fairly common in our area with long winter months and very grey days. The challenge is diagnosing whether a client has a mild case of winter blues, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or another form of depression,” says Lisa Shelton, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Director of the Employee Assistance program with Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.
Symptoms for the winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) appear to be similar on the onset and may include:
- Sleep issues (either too much or not enough)
- Fatigued to the point where it is difficult to carry out daily routines
- Overeating and/or strong cravings for “comfort foods,” especially carbohydrates
- Lack of interest in normal activities
- Social withdrawal
Treatment techniques will determine whether or not the winter blues really are SAD or another form of depression. Shelton recommends a three-step process to clients describing some form of the winter blues.
Step one: Exercise – yes, it’s a verb buzzed about all the time, but all this talk must lead to positive results because doctors, counselors, and other healthcare professionals are always recommending it. And, our area offers the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center, the Greenway, several parks, and sidewalks round about Boone to help you enjoy slivers of daylight during the winter months. A long walk outside helps refresh your senses, and if it is too yucky to go out, a creative solution may be to brighten up your home and do some jumping jacks, run-in-place, or stretches. Any form of exercise will help you warm up the winter blues.
Step two: Strive to sleep and rest well – if you exercise, you’re more likely to tire yourself out and sleep better. Other considerations include reducing caffeine intake, make an effort to turn off your thoughts (counting sheep is always a popular game), or just simply lying there and resting. If you continue to have trouble sleeping, seek your doctor’s advice. If you are sleeping too much, make an effort to avoid snoozing past eight hours.
Step three: Engage in an activity that gives you pleasure – this suggestion seems simple enough, but people often struggle with time and money to make it happen. However, if you make it a priority, you’re likely to come up with an affordable solution that fits your budget. Popular winter activities may include reading, completing craft projects, sledding, ice-skating, or other ideas discovered by talking with friends or googling.
“Being aware of your symptoms is so important to getting past the winter blues. We’re most vulnerable when we’re unaware of what’s going on with us. Sometimes sitting down and talking with a trusted friend, family member, or professional, qualified healthcare worker can be very successful in dealing with the winter months,” continues Shelton.
If the above three steps do not seem to help your mood, seek the advice of your doctor or a licensed mental healthcare worker. Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may include light therapy, which involves exposure to daylight or a specially-made fluorescent bright light for 30 minutes to two hours a day. SAD can often be confused with other forms of depression, and patients with SAD aren’t usually diagnosed with it until their symptoms can be observed over a period of one or more fall/winter seasons.
Shelton concludes, “The most important consideration is to take the time to make your mental health a priority. People affected by the winter blues or other more serious forms of depression must strive to adjust their routines in order to have success, and the rewards of a happy, healthy mind are well worth the effort.”
Good News for Employees of
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and other locals
Lisa Shelton and staff of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) are available to provide short-term professional help and guidance to all employees and their family members of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System as a part of the system’s benefits program. The EAP is highly confidential and accepts voluntary self-referrals. Additionally, the EAP contracts to provide services for the Town of Boone, Town of Beech Mountain, Grandfather Mountain, Boone Drug, several doctors’ offices, and other organizations throughout the High Country. For more information about EAP, call (828) 263-0121.
Outpatient behavioral health services are also available to the community in two locations for your convenience: Watauga Medical Center in Boone (828) 268-9454 and Cannon Memorial Hospital in Linville (828) 737-7888. The Outpatient Behavioral Health program provides assessment, medication management, individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy and behavioral planning based on individual client need. Our treatment programs are not only designed to treat mood disorders such as Seasonal Affective Disorder, but also for adults, children and families experiencing a variety of problematic behaviors and life patterns. Our program works to improve emotional stability and increase general functioning, as well as help clients identify, develop and increase the use of effective coping skills by emphasizing the existing strengths of the individual or family system. To be referred for treatment, we require a referral from a health care provider and we accept most major types of insurance. You are not alone. We can help.
Links for additional information about the winter blues or
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
The Cancer Center uses a multidisciplinary approach in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancers. Through advanced technology and a highly trained staff, the Center offers exceptional diagnostic and treatment procedures that include radiation, chemotherapy, biotherapy, immunotherapy, prostate brachytherapy and hormonal treatments. Since opening its doors in 1993, the Cancer Center has diagnosed and/or treated 8,316 cancer patients.
In the beginning
The Cancer Center has a rich history, beginning in the late 1980s, when a marketing study conducted by Watauga Medical Center revealed that 25 percent of High Country residents would not feel comfortable leaving the mountain area for care and treatment if faced with cancer. Richard Sparks, then President of Watauga Medical Center, along with his Board of Trustees, believed this feedback offered an opportunity to address a community cancer care need.
“We began gathering data to analyze and assess if it would be possible to support a quality cancer center in the High Country,” said Sparks. “Early on it became apparent that we would have the support of the community.”
Sparks partnered with the former Mayor of Raleigh and High Country enthusiast, Seby B. Jones, to begin the establishment of a cancer center in Boone. In 1992, Jones provided the lead gift to establish and develop a comprehensive cancer treatment program on the campus of Watauga Medical Center. Jones, who loved the mountains and its people, felt strongly that residents should have access to a quality cancer care facility near home. On June 13, 1993, the cancer center was named Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center in his honor.
Dr. Herman Godwin
Good intentions led to good support when Sparks made a cold call for help in 1992 to Dr. Herman Godwin, then medical director of the Blumenthal Cancer Center at Carolinas Medical Center (today it is named the Levine Cancer Institute). Godwin agreed to travel to Boone on a cold evening in November that same year to survey the need and determine how he could help get the Cancer Center up and running.
“After my visit, Richard and I had a hand shake agreement that I would serve as an outreach medical oncologist once a week in Boone at the Cancer Center,” said Godwin with a reminiscing smile. “On January 14, 1993, I began driving up from Charlotte once a week to see patients. I saw four that first day.”
Over the course of the next seven years, Dr. Godwin continued to commute once a week to the High Country to care for patients. Gradually, the decision to stay on the mountain for cancer treatment increased among High Country residents, which led to the decision to hire a full time Medical Oncologist, Dr. Flint Gray, who still practices at the Cancer Center today.
Prior to 1993, there was no substantial cancer care available in the High Country. Today, the SBJCC is a modern facility housing medical oncology, radiation oncology and a newly developed cancer resource center.
“We came from very humble beginnings,” said Godwin. “In 1993, we opened our doors with the capacity to evaluate and treat patients with chemotherapy infusions once a week and to provide radiation treatments five days a week.”
Fortunately, as the number of cancer patients increased, so did the financial commitment of the community to the Cancer Center. In 1997, a new million-dollar vault, with 24-inch concrete walls, was added to accommodate a new state-of-the-art linear accelerator.
Sandi Cassidy, Director of Oncology Services said, “The addition of the new linear accelerator took the Cancer Center from the early 90′s in technology into the 21st century.”
The Cancer Center was accredited in 1997 as a Community Cancer Program by the Commission on Cancer under the guidance of the American College of Surgeons. To maintain the accreditation, the Center adheres to strict regulations and requirements regarding program management, clinical services, continuum of care, patient outcomes and quality of data. Simply translated, the accreditation sets Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center on a level in quality of care with other accredited cancer centers throughout our country.
2003 Infusion Center construction
In 2003, the Center expanded and added a medical oncology unit that included office space, exam rooms and a state of the art infusion center. The infusion center, equipped with 10 chairs and two beds, provides a comfortable environment for patients to rest and receive treatment. Prior to this addition, the Center had only a small number of infusion chairs.
The Cancer Center added Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) in 2008. This unique form of treatment minimizes the risk of radiation damage to healthy tissues by precisely targeting cancerous cells and tissue. The addition of IMRT was among the first of its kind in North Carolina.
“As research and technology advance, many more people are surviving their battle with cancer,” said Cassidy. “We are working diligently to support the patient and his/her family from diagnosis to survivorship.”
| Paul Young, RN
Oncology Nurse Navigator
To provide more emphasis on cancer survivorship care plans, SBJCC, in collaboration with the University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Center, established a Nurse Navigator program and appointed Paul Young, RN to the position. Young assists patients and their families from diagnosis to survivorship by providing a guiding hand of support through the entire process.
“If one informs an individual patient that, ‘you have cancer,’ it is enough to make the world literally change for that person,” said Godwin. “At that point, additional information often falls on deaf ears due to the devastating news. Cancer is a complex and intrusive enemy, and it is helpful to have someone like Paul who is able to assist and provide continuous support, not only for the patient, but for the family as well.”
The Cancer Resource Alliance (CRA), an outreach arm of the Cancer Center, was established in 2006 to empower cancer survivors and their loved ones to be active partners in the healing journey. The CRA consists of cancer survivors, community members, Appalachian State University’s Colleges Against Cancer Club, and ARHS healthcare professionals.
The CRA is completely supported by donations.Tax-deductible gifts help ensure that cancer patients and survivors have access to a wide range of enriching and supportive programs and services to facilitate healing. Numerous fundraisers are held throughout the year to help purchase wigs, prosthetic devices, educational materials, and iPads for patients to use while receiving treatment at the infusion center. Funds also help with outreach programs, support groups, the Cancer Patient Emergency Fund and the THRIVE Oncology track at the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center.
The Cancer Patient Emergency Fund provides financial assistance to aid many cancer patients and their families with expenses during treatment – gas for transportation, utility bills, medications and grocery expenses. The fund, originally started and maintained by the Park Foundation, has donated over $328,000 since its inception in 2007.
The FutureSeby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center’s partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Lineberger Cancer Center has allowed for clinical trials, nurse navigation and peer review sessions, via the Telehealth Medicine Education Program, to be shared with the High Country.
“Our physicians now have consulting access to some of the finest doctors in the state of North Carolina through the UNC alliance,” said Cassidy. “Thanks to the Telehealth program, our cases can be discussed and reviewed in Chapel Hill through virtual real time technology, remotely from Boone.”
Cassidy, a big proponent of preventative screenings, predicts a future increase in the discovery of early stage cancer cases through a variety of upcoming and strategically planned free cancer screenings. These screenings will be hosted in conjunction with the Community Outreach Department of ARHS and with the support and oversight of the CRA.
The Cancer Center also has plans to add a High Dose Radiation (HDR) unit in 2015, which will be used, in some specific cases, in place of the linear accelerator. HDR is unique in that it uses a concentrated high dose of radiation during treatment that in turn can greatly reduces the number of treatment days necessary for patients.
“In the future, I believe we will see increasing levels of success in prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment,” said Godwin. “It has been a genuine honor and pleasure for me to be able to serve our High Country community and its patients for almost 20 years.”
For more information about the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center please call 828-262-4332 or visit www.apprhs.org/cancer-center.
An Important message from Appalachian Regional Healthcare System to All NC State Employees and Retirees
Watauga Medical Center is “in-network” with the NC State Health Plan.
The NC State Health Plan has introduced some changes this year that may be causing confusion. Even though Watauga Medical Center is not listed as a Blue Options Designated Hospital, this has no bearing on the network status. Again, Watauga Medical Center is in-network with the NC State Health Plan.
Most importantly, Watauga Medical Center is your community hospital to provide NC State Health Plan subscribers with in-network care for you and your family, close to home.
For more information, please contact your organization’s Human Resources office or Watauga Medical Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2010, when Eggers went for routine blood work, he was advised to take a stress test. The results were abnormal, so he was sent to Charlotte to have a diagnostic procedure known as a heart catheterization and found an artery that was 85% blocked. A stent was placed successfully.
In December of 2012, Eggers was back at The Cardiology Center for a routine baseline stress test that is typical a year or more after a procedure. Abnormal results and his previous stent warranted a closer look. Eggers was scheduled for a diagnostic heart catheterization or heart cath the very next day. However, this time it was performed in Boone, by cardiologist, Dr. Paul Vignola.
“I like Dr. Vignola because he is very personable and explains everything to you. He respects your time and doesn’t piddle around with you. He makes sure you are well taken care of and then he is ready to move on and help someone else,” said Eggers with a smile.
Eggers shared that Dr. Vignola not only prepared him for the procedures, but helped reassure his wife and family with several personal calls during the procedure. Dr. Vignola explained the process in a very clear and concise manner. The first step is to perform a diagnostic heart cath to find out if there is a serious blockage. If there are no serious blockages or if the blockage can be treated with medication, the procedure stops. However, if it is determined during the diagnostic heart cath that there is a critical blockage, similar to the one Eggers had previously, then the procedure proceeds with repairing the blockage, if safe to do so.
“When I was in Charlotte, a few years ago, I felt more like a number as opposed to a person who was stuck lying on a gurney for hours waiting for my catheter procedure to be done,” said Eggers. “However, having this procedure at Watauga Medical Center was quite different. You are close to home, you are familiar with the hospital, you are treated with the utmost care by the staff, and they are as well trained and certified as the staff you will find down the mountain.”
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System began offering diagnostic catheterizations and angioplasty stents in November 2012. Since that time, more than 246 diagnostic heart catheterizations have been performed and 84 of those patients received stents with no serious complications.
“In 2012 when we were developing our Cardiology Service Line, the current literature demonstrated that percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), was safe and effective in rural areas without cardiovascular surgical capabilities,” said Kim Bianca, Sr. VP of Clinical and Outpatient Service Lines for ARHS. “Therefore in keeping with the American College of Cardiology guidelines we moved forward with the vision to provide this life saving program for the High Country. Thanks to the support of our CEO, Richard Sparks, our Board of Trustees and our medical staff, we have very successful interventional cardiac services here in Boone.”
“I have been a doctor for 43 years in a variety of large cities, however, here in the High Country is the first time I can honestly say I feel like I am really taking care of my friends and neighbors,” Vignola continued.
After recovering from his surgery, Eggers was advised to participate in the Cardiac Rehabilitation program offered at the Wellness Center and led by Dr. Jeff Soukup, PhD, CES and Kathleen Collins RN, along with students from Appalachian State University.
Eggers admitted the scariest part of the whole process was the looming lifestyle change. Known by his friends and family as the man who does not slow down, he knew it was time to trust the Lord and his doctor with some changes in his diet, exercise and smoking habit.
“You have to trust in the Lord when he opens doors,” said Eggers. The Cardiac Rehabilitation program “has helped me immensely with my recovery and it has increased by endurance level. Everyone is supportive and the interaction with other heart and pulmonary patients is very motivating.”
With only a few more weeks until he graduates from the Cardiac Rehabilitation program, Eggers looks forward to spending more time with his family, landscaping, and playing golf and much less time worrying about his health thanks to the team of providers at The Cardiology Center.
“We are very blessed to have such a strong cardiology center available to us in the High Country,” said Eggers. “I would recommend speaking with Dr. Vignola before anyone considers having a cath or stent procedure off of the mountain.”
For more information about the Cardiology Center, call (828)-264-9664 or visit www.apprhs.org/cardiology-center.
- Customized treatment programs to improve one’s ability to perform daily activities
- Comprehensive home and job site evaluations with adaptation recommendations
- Performance skills assessments and treatment
- Adaptive equipment recommendations and usage training
- Guidance to family members and caregivers.
For more information about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, visit www.apprhs.org or call The Rehabilitation Center of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System in Boone at (828) 268-9043; in Linville at (828) 737-7520; at Watauga Medical Center Inpatient OT (828) 262-4173; or at Blowing Rock Hospital (828) 295-3136.
To find out more about occupational therapy and how it might help you, visit the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Web site, www.aota.org.
Established in 1974, National Volunteer Week is focused on honoring those who provide extraordinary service through volunteerism. The week is endorsed by the President and Congress, governors, mayors, as well as corporate and community groups across the country.
In 2012, ARHS had 240 volunteers who served in 45 different job services for a total of 27,551 hours. A few of the volunteer services include, working in the activity garden, visiting patients, pastoral services, community outings, hospitality, gift shop and blood drives.
“I consider all of these amazing volunteers to be the real heart beat of our system,” said Sallie Woodring, ARHS Director of Volunteer Services and Career Pathways. “Every day they bring to our hospitals and affiliates within ARHS all of their many talents to share with our patients, staff and visitors.”
ARHS is hosting events at each hospital within the system to honor its dedicated volunteers. On Monday, April 22 Blowing Rock Hospital is providing an appreciation luncheon for its volunteers. Cannon Memorial Hospital is presenting a volunteer potluck on Thursday, April 25 and Watauga Medical Center is honoring its volunteers on Wednesday, May 8.
“They do what they do just to make a difference,” said Woodring. “Their gifts of time, talent and compassion cannot be measured monetarily but their impact can be seen and felt throughout our organization.”
For more information on volunteering at ARHS please contact Woodring at (828) 737-7538 or via email at email@example.com.
“Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) has PTs and PTAs restoring quality of life all across our healthcare system”, says Jeanne Bradshaw, PT, Executive Director of Rehabilitation and Wellness Center.
If you are one of many people who experience low back pain, for example, a physical therapist can help. If you have had a running injury or want to maintain your ability to run as you age, a physical therapist can help. If you are experiencing impairments from Bell palsy, diabetes, frozen shoulder, stroke, knee replacement or pelvic pain, to name but a few conditions, a physical therapist can help.
“Physical Therapy is crucial to recovery for patients in many settings, including Home Health, Skilled Nursing, the Wellness Center – THRIVE program and Hospital Inpatient and Outpatient care” says Bradshaw. “Losing your ability to move because of pain or problems with balance, strength or range of motion, significantly impact a person’s independence and quality of life.”
ARHS is constantly looking at ways to improve care. Currently, a team of outpatient therapists at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital are working together to implement new evidence-based guidelines for low back pain, in preparation for a new fast-access back pain program.
“We are interested in the ways that early therapy intervention can reduce costs of care,” says Bradshaw.
In many cases, a physical therapist can work to manage or eliminate pain without medication and its side effects. Physical therapy may even be an alternative to surgery, in many cases. A physical therapist will examine you and develop a plan of care using treatment techniques to promote your ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. If you are looking for an evidence-based, cost-effective, conservative approach to health care, then a physical therapist may be right for you.
Physical therapists are required to complete a graduate degree – either a master’s or clinical doctorate – from an accredited education program and pass a state-administered national exam before practicing. By 2015, all physical therapists will graduate with a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree.
To learn more about physical therapy and other rehabilitation therapies available through Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, visit www.apprhs.org/rehab-therapy.
A total of 22 participants including officers from Avery County Sheriff’s Office, Boone Police Department, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, and Appalachian State University Police Department completed Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) at Watauga Medical Center the week of April 30 thru May 4, 2012. Other participants were telecommunicators from ASU and a Chaplain with Avery County Sheriff’s Office.
CIT is an intensive 40-hour training curriculum that educates officers about a variety of mental illnesses, addictive diseases and developmental disabilities. Officers learn how to better respond to an individual in a mental health crisis and help those individuals receive appropriate care. The objectives of the training were to increase law enforcement’s knowledge about mental illness; to learn about their community resources; to learn how to connect mental health clients to the appropriate services and to avoid incarceration and involuntary commitments when appropriate.
The CIT program is a community based collaborative between consumers, families, the Mental Health Local Management Entity,, law enforcement agencies, mental health providers, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) consumer advocacy organization, the community college, and the medical community.
Law enforcement officers are frequently first responders to people in crisis. Therefore, CIT training facilitates ongoing collaboration between law enforcement and the mental health community. CIT is designed to assist law enforcement officers who respond to incidents involving people experiencing a crisis. Police officers receive training on a variety of topics, including an Overview of Mental Health, Geriatrics, Substance Abuse/Co-Occurring Disorders, Special Concerns with Adolescents, Mental Health Commitment Process, Personality Disorders, Developmental Disabilities, Autism, Suicide, Trauma and its aftermath, Homelessness Crisis Intervention and De-escalation, site visits, and hands on exercises.
The training received in this course will help our community’s law enforcement officers protect themselves in encounters with consumers suffering from mental illness and the knowledge learned will result in safer encounters for our citizens with mental illness.
CIT Roster (April 30, 2012 – May 4, 2012)
- Sergeant Todd Lyons
- Deputy William Gilliam
- Deputy Gerald Townsend
- Lieutenant Donnie Goodman
- Senior Patrol Officer Dennis O’Neal
- Patrol Officer James Long
- Senior Patrol Officer Tylor Greene
- Patrol Officer Jason Reid
- Senior Patrol Officer Michael Baker
- Patrol Officer Dennis Fletcher
- Support Services Manager Sandra Evans
- Telecommunications Supervisor Angela Stewart
- K9 Deputy Casey Lee
- Deputy Timothy Clawson
- Deputy Jack McCloud
- Deputy Daniel Jones
- Deputy Ralph Coffey
- Chaplain Ron Greene
- Deputy Timothy Rhoades
- Deputy Thomas Cheek
- Sergeant Mary Carrero
- Patrol Officer Dustin Clark
The Jim Bernstein Community Health Leadership Fellows Program builds future leaders who will make a difference in the health of rural and other underserved communities in North Carolina. The Fellowship supports the work of outstanding individuals early in their careers who share Jim Bernstein’s vision, commitment and passion for access to respectful and effective care, and local ownership of health care by the communities it serves.
During the Fellowship, Fellows are paired with mentors, health care leaders and local state agencies, university programs, non-profit organizations and community groups to improve access to quality health care. Fellows are expected to share their experiences with their employers, peers, and rural health and primary care organizations.
“I’m very excited to be chosen as a Bernstein Fellow,” shared Lipscomb. “I am planning to create a sustainable community-based behavioral intervention for migrant workers through a collaboration with the local behavioral health community and graduate programs, while utilizing public health models.”
The Jim Bernstein Community Health Leadership Fellowships are awarded annually to health professionals early in their careers who are working in rural and underserved North Carolina communities. A key feature of the Fellowship is to design, implement and evaluate a community-based project in collaboration with the community to be served. Funding for the Fellowship is provided by the Jim Bernstein Health Leadership Fund, which raises funds through the Annual Jim Bernstein Dinner.