Appalachian Regional Healthcare System

Diabetes Health Fair & Health Talk to be held on November 14 at the Wellness Center

In observance of National Diabetes Month, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) is offering a free Diabetes Health Fair from 8 am – 9:45 am and a Health Talk from 10 am – 10:45 am on Saturday, November 14 at the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center, 232 Boone Heights Drive in Boone.

The Wellness Center will host a free Health Fair and Health Talk on Saturday, November 14.

The Wellness Center will host a free Health Fair and Health Talk on Saturday, November 14.

The Health Fair will feature a variety of free screenings including blood pressure checks, a diabetic foot screening, glucose level checks, body composition screenings, Body Mass Index (BMI) readings, height and weight measurements and onsite nutrition information. Participants seeking a glucose level are encouraged to fast 12 hours prior to the health fair to ensure accurate results; a free light breakfast will be provided. In addition, Dr. Jay Krakovitz of Watauga Internal Medicine will give a one hour complementary Health Talk entitled Living with Diabetes at 10 am in the Wellness Center classroom. All participants will be granted free admission to the Wellness Center that day and entered to win door prizes.

“Our goal this month is to raise awareness in regard to diabetes,” said Kris Hartley, Fitness and Clinical Programs Manager at the Wellness Center. “By providing education, screenings and programs that encourage healthy lifestyle changes we hope to improve health outcomes in our community.”

Outside of November, patients with diabetes can also find assistance through Watauga Medical Center’s Diabetes Self-Management Education Program and Diabetes Support Group. The program, led by Certified Diabetes Educator Linda Bond, RN, BSN and a team of registered dietitians, provides patients with the skills needed to manage their diabetes. The Self-Management Classes require a referral. The Diabetes Support Group meets once a month, May through October, at Watauga Medical Center.

“Diabetes is a challenging disease that affects the entire family in many ways,” said Bond. “As a diabetes educator, my goal is to work with the team to educate the community about the risks of diabetes and to improve the quality of life for people who live daily with diabetes.”

To learn more about the Diabetes Health Fair or Health Talk, contact Candy Jones, RN, Community Outreach Nurse at 828-268-8960 or email her at For more information about Diabetes Programs offered through Appalachian Regional Healthcare System call Linda Bond at 828-262-4177.

Boone Urology joins Appalachian Regional Healthcare System

Boone Urology Center became a member of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) on November 1, 2015. The practice, which is located less than a mile from Watauga Medical Center, joined Appalachian Regional Medical Associates (ARMA), the healthcare systems multi-specialty practice corporation.

The Boone Urology Team joined Appalachian Regional Medical Associates on November 1, 2015.

The Boone Urology team joined Appalachian Regional Medical Associates on November 1, 2015.

Established in 1972, Boone Urology Center specializes in treating a variety of urological conditions including prostate cancer, kidney stones, impotence, urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence and much more. The practice physicians include Charles Miller, MD, Christopher Marinakis, MD, and Anthony Schlake, MD.

“We are very pleased to welcome Boone Urology Center into the ARMA family,” said Robert Johnston, Director of ARMA & Clinical Integration. “Anytime a healthcare system can add an array of specialists and broaden its scope of service capabilities it is a great thing for our community and for the patients we serve.”

By joining ARMA, Boone Urology Center will benefit from both the clinical and financial support of ARHS. In addition, the practice will switch over to the healthcare system’s centralized electronic medical record. For patients, this means that their medical records will transition seamlessly between ARMA offices, improving the continuity of care for all patients.

The Boone location of the office, 935 State Farm Road, Boone, as well as the phone number 828-264-5150 will remain the same. In addition to the Boone office, Boone Urology will continue seeing patients in Ashe County on a bi-weekly basis at Jefferson Specialty Clinic, an ARMA office, located at 257 Medical Park Drive, Jefferson, NC 28640.

The public is invited to an Open House event on December 16th from 4 pm – 6 pm. Boone Urology Center is located at 935 State Farm Rd. Boone, NC.

To schedule an appointment at Boone Urology Center call 828-264-5150.

Watauga Medical Center adds new technology to enhance thoracic surgery capability

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is committed to providing exceptional care to its patients. Since its inception in 2004, the healthcare system has made every effort to equip its hospitals and ancillary practices with skilled providers, compassionate staff and state-of-the-art technology and equipment. Recently, the healthcare system added a new piece of technology to improve its comprehensive thoracic surgery capabilities.

New equipment

The Thoracic & General Surgery Team (from left to right) Loretta Barbee CST, Tammy Russell CST, Jessica Black BSN, RN, and Jean Watson RN, CNOR pose with EBUS equipment.

The Thoracic & General Surgery Team (from left) Loretta Barbee CST, Tammy Russell CST, Jessica Black BSN, RN, and Jean Watson RN, CNOR pose with EBUS equipment.

Watauga Medical Center enhanced its operating room by installing an Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS) into its endoscopy procedure room. EBUS is a relatively new technology, primarily utilized in larger medical facilities, to diagnosis lung cancer and other diseases found in the chest.

The decision to add EBUS came after Dr. Timothy Edmisten, a Boone native and general surgeon at Watauga Surgical Group, asked the hospital board and administration to consider the benefits of adding the advanced diagnostic equipment.

Edmisten explained, “Although, the traditional diagnostic bronchoscopy (used to find tumors in the airway) had been conducted successfully at Watauga Medical Center for more than 20 years, it is not without limitation. Due to the nature of the procedure, it is difficult for surgeons to detect hidden tumors in hard to reach places, like behind the bronchus, without conventional surgery.”

Fortunately, EBUS provides a minimally invasive solution. The state-of-the-art equipment utilizes a bronchoscope outfitted with an ultrasound probe inserted via the patient’s airway to detect tumors and obtain samples with pinpoint precision. The samples are then used to obtain a diagnosis and conduct additional cancer staging.

The Tumor Board

If the diagnosis is cancer, the results from the EBUS procedure are then brought before the Tumor Board. The Tumor Board, which meets weekly at Watauga Medical Center to discuss cases, consists of a radiologist, pathologist, several surgeons including Dr. Edmisten, as well as the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center’s medical oncologists, radiation oncologist and nurse navigator. Together, they discuss each patient’s case to create a comprehensive treatment plan. Treatment plans often utilize different treatment modalities ranging from chemotherapy to radiation oncology and in some cases surgery.

“There are so many different modalities for treating cancer,” said Kim Bianca, Sr. Vice President of Clinical Services at ARHS. “The Tumor Board brings all of these different modalities together to determine on a case by case basis the best course of treatment for each patient.”

Surgery options

A variety of advanced, yet minimally invasive thoracic (lung and esophagus) procedures, are available at Watauga Medical Center including, thoracoscopic lobectomies. The procedures involve making small keyhole incisions in the chest to remove tumors. Thanks to the minimally invasive nature of these procedures, patients generally experience less pain and a quicker return to function post surgery.

“We are very fortunate to be able to offer this community such comprehensive thoracic services,” said Bianca. “EBUS is the latest example of a forward thinking healthcare system, focused on equipping its medical staff with the right tools to provide exceptional patient care.”

In addition to thoracic cancer treatment, the Tumor Board, Cancer Center and surgical team at Watauga Medical Center also specialize in providing treatment for a variety of other cancers, including colon and breast cancer.

To learn more about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System visit



Medical Tourism: Seasonal resident opts for surgery and rehab on the mountain

For city slicker Barry Hersh, a native of Brooklyn, NY and a long time resident of Miami, FL the initial thought of having surgery in the rural mountains of North Carolina seemed out of the question. However, that all changed last year after meeting Dr. Evan Ekman of Appalachian Regional Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center (AppOrtho) at Hound Ears Club.

Barry Hersh with Dr. Evan Ekman.

Barry Hersh with Dr. Evan Ekman.

The story began last summer, when Barry suffered an unfortunate fall down his deck staircase. After conducting a self assessment, which revealed that he still had functionality, Barry decided to “wait and see” in regard to scheduling a doctor’s appointment. In the interim, he attended guest lecturer, Dr. Evan Ekman’s Medicine in your Life talk which was conveniently scheduled a few days after the incident.

“I was very impressed by Dr. Ekman’s presentation,” said Barry. “His orthopaedic lecture was timely for me because I was able to ask him about my fall and my lingering pain. After listening to my injury account and doing an initial assessment at the Club, Dr. Ekman suggested that I schedule a consult appointment at AppOrtho. As things turned out, I’m glad I did.”

An x-ray revealed that Barry had a partial tear in his rotator cuff. In search of a non-operative solution, Dr. Ekman recommended that he undergo physical therapy at The Rehabilitation Center in Boone. Barry was pleased to discover that he could avoid surgery and receive top quality rehab without having to travel off of the mountain. After only a few weeks of rehab, he noticed significant pain reduction and improved functionality in his injured arm.

A few months later, as the weather cooled and the leaves began to fall from the trees, the retired summer resident returned to his home in Miami. Thanks to his success with rehab, he was able to spend his winter months playing golf and riding his bike. That was until he detected a new pain, this time in his hand, causing his fingers to go numb while riding his bike for extended periods of time.

“In the past, I would have just gone to my orthopaedic doctor in Florida,” said Barry. “However, I was so impressed with Dr. Ekman and the rehab services offered in the mountains of North Carolina that I decided to wait and see him again when I returned in the spring.”

After examining his hand, Dr. Ekman recommended that Barry undergo Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release (ECTR) Surgery at Watauga Medical Center. Dr. Ekman explained that the recently renovated and state-of-the-art operating room at the hospital was well-equipped to accommodate this particular endoscopic procedure. He went on to explain that ECTR is less invasive than the traditional Carpal Tunnel surgery and thus minimizes pain and soft tissue trauma post surgery. Barry agreed to have the procedure and it was scheduled a few days later.

“I was very impressed with the entire medical staff at Watauga Medical Center,” shared Barry who recounts being a bit nervous prior to surgery. “When Dr. Ekman first came in I remember apologizing to him because at that point they had taken my glasses and I could no longer see him very clearly. I remember, through a reassuring smile, he told me that it was okay and for me not to worry because he could see me just fine. His confident and steady demeanor was very comforting.”

Barry opted to forgo anesthesia and have the procedure performed with a local anesthesia so he could witness Dr. Ekman and the medical staff at work. Dr. Ekman began the procedure by making a very small incision in Barry’s wrist. Next, he placed a tiny telescope into the incision which allowed him to visualize the carpal canal on three large screen monitors suspended around the operating table. With clear visibility, Dr. Ekman was able to release the carpal tunnel. From start to finish the procedure took less than thirty minutes.

“From my front row perspective all I could do was marvel at how smoothly everything was coordinated,” said Barry. “The staff took extra time to explain each step of the procedure for me and I found the whole process to be a tremendous educational experience.”

A week later, his stitches were removed at AppOrtho and Dr. Ekman stated that it was safe for him to participate again in recreational activities.

“Barry is a great example of a patient who has discovered one of the best kept secrets of the High Country, said Dr. Ekman. “It is well known that the area is a top tourist destination thanks to its plethora of outdoor activities. However, thanks to Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), the region has also developed into a Medical Tourism destination. We have noticed a steady uptick in the number of seasonal residents who are opting to avoid the concrete jungle of the big city and wait to have their procedures and rehab done while vacationing in the mountains.”

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


DAISY was Created to say Thank You to Nurses like Joyce Lowder

Joyce Lowder, RN, a nurse in the Behavioral Health Unit at Cannon Memorial Hospital (CMH), is the 2016 Daisy Award winner at CMH.
In the behavioral health unit, Lowder works with patients who most often need someone to listen, empathize and teach them coping skills to help get them through difficulties in life. Fellow employee, Tiffany Moon, shared that “Joyce does not simply ‘come to work’ – it is not an obligation, but rather a calling to deliver extraordinary care.”
Lowder’s dedication to patient care is well known among her co-workers. She leaves individualized cards on patient pillows that provide words of hope and encouragement. She provides a daily quote to patients to help challenge their thinking and created aromatherapy play dough they can use as a stress ball.
Debbie Lowder (Joyce's mom), Joyce Lowder and Steve Salmieri (Joyce's dad)

Debbie Lowder (Joyce’s mom), Joyce Lowder and Steve Salmieri (Joyce’s husband)

Most recently, Lowder independently sought resources for a patient with gender identification issues. The additional information and assistance not only helped the patient, but made them feel more accepted and hopeful for the future.
“Joyce goes above and beyond what is expected on a daily basis and plays a vital role in literally saving the lives of the patients she so humbly serves,” said Moon
The Daisy Award was created by the family of Patrick Barnes, a patient who passed away in 1999 at age 33 from an auto-immune disease called Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP). Patrick was hospitalized for 8 weeks prior to his death, and the nursing care that he received was considered extraordinary by the family. After his death, the family struggled to cope with the loss and wanted to do something that would honor Patrick and the caregivers who gave of themselves so selflessly.  They started the Daisy Foundation and the Daisy Award as a way to recognize nurses for extraordinary care.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) adopted the Daisy Award program in 2012.  Nominations for Daisy awards are accepted from patients, families, physicians, co-workers and peers. Throughout the year, nursing department managers recognize those within their departments who have been nominated. Once a year, all of the nominations are given to a committee at Cannon Memorial Hospital who chooses the “overall” Daisy Award winner for the facility.
“Patients frequently mention Joyce’s kindness and compassion, as well as her obvious love for what she does,” shared Carmen Lacey, President of Cannon Memorial Hospital. “ARHS is fortunate to have such an extraordinary and talented nurse/individual taking care of our community.”
For more information about the Daisy Award, visit