Watauga Medical Center

Hospital Visitation Restrictions Requested

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.”

Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Sometimes an individual may catch flu by touching an object infected with the virus and then touching the eyes, mouth, or nose. There are several things you can do to prevent catching or spreading the flu: Protect yourself, your family and your community
  • 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.

Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

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
  • Confusion
  • 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/.

Cancer survivor Jane Eberle benefits from the new Thrive Oncology Program

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.

Domino Effect: New CT Scanner creates waves of improvements across Healthcare System

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).

Melanie Thomas, RT (R) (T) Radiation Therapist & Clinical Lead with the 4 Slice CT Scanner at SBJRCC.

Melanie Thomas, RT (R) (T) Radiation Therapist and Clinical Lead with the 4 Slice CT Scanner at Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center.

“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.

Healthcare System recognizes nurses during Perioperative Nurse Week

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.

Perioperative Team at Cannon Memorial Hospital

Perioperative Team at Cannon Memorial Hospital

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.

Perioperative Team at Watauga Medical Center

Perioperative Team at Watauga Medical Center

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.

For more information about Perioperative Nurse Week, visit www.aorn.org/PNW/. To learn more about Surgical Services available through ARHS, visit www.apprhs.org/surgical-services-wmc.

Warm up the winter blues

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.sad face

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)

www.healthyminds.org
www.nmha.org

Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center Celebrates 20 Year Anniversary

Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center (SBJCC), part of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), celebrates its 20th anniversary serving cancer patients in the High Country.

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
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.

Advances

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.

Picture of the Cancer Center under construction in 2003 with the addition of the Infusion Center
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.

Nurse Navigation

“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
        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.”

Community Support

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.”

If you’d like more information about the CRA program, volunteering or making a donation, contact Angie Shoemake, MSW, at (828) 262-9170 or send an email to ashoemake@apprhs.org.

For more information about the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center please call 828-262-4332 or visit www.apprhs.org/cancer-center.

For more information about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, visit www.apprhs.org.

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 corpcomm@apprhs.org.

Scott Eggers is Heart Healthy Thanks to The Cardiology Center

 (June 4, 2013) -Watauga County native, Scott Eggers, is heart healthy thanks to The Cardiology Center of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS).
Scott Eggers

Scott Eggers

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.”

Dr. Paul Vignola

Dr. Paul Vignola

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 Cardiopulmonary 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 Cardiopulmonary 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 Cardiopulmonary 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.

Occupational Therapy Helps Individuals Live Life to Its Fullest

(April 25, 2013) – While April has been designated Occupational Therapy Month by the American Occupational Therapy Association, many people may not be aware of the services an occupational therapist can provide. From a holistic perspective, with the focus of adapting the environment to fit the needs of their patient, an occupational therapist and the patient become a therapy team.
Occupational Therapy (OT) services typically include:
  • 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.
According to Jeanne Bradshaw, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System Executive Director of Rehabilitation and the Wellness Center, ARHS has a growing and talented team of Occupational Therapists.  “They work in all of our settings across the healthcare system from Acute Care and Outpatient Rehabilitation at Cannon Memorial Hospital and Watauga Medical Center to Home Health and Blowing Rock Hospital,” she said. “Where we used to have one to two OTs across the system, we now are seven to eight strong. They are making a difference in the lives of our patients, but also are making a difference to our organization, as they are integral members of the ARHS Rehabilitation team.”

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.

Healthcare System Celebrates its volunteers during National Volunteer Week

April 22, 2013) – Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) recognizes its volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 21 – 27, 2013.

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 swoodring@apprhs.org.

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