Appalachian Regional Healthcare System

Blowing Rock Fashion Show Festivities Sold Out

Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation is pleased to share that the Patrons Evening Under the Stars and the 37th Annual Blowing Rock Fashion Show and Luncheon have sold out.

“We are so grateful to the community for their support of these events and Chestnut Ridge,” said Rob Hudspeth, Senior Vice President of Advancement for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.

Proceeds from both events benefit the new post-acute care center, Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock. Chestnut Ridge will offer post-acute rehabilitative care, skilled nursing care, palliative care and memory support care.

The Patrons Evening Under the Stars will be Saturday, July 26, 2014 on the lawn of the private, historical home “Shadowlawn” in Mayview. Patrons will enjoy cocktails, dining and dancing to The Todd Wright Sextet and a live auction.

The 37th Annual Blowing Rock Fashion Show & Luncheon will be Friday, August 1, 2014 at the Blowing Rock Country Club. The event will feature models wearing the latest fashions, live music with The Todd Wright Duo and a magnificent silent auction.

Anyone wishing to attend either event should call Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation at (828) 262-4391 and request to be added to the waiting list.

To learn more about Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock, visit

Groundbreaking for Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock to be held June 24th

Chestnut Ridge

Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock

The groundbreaking for Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock will take place on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 from 2 – 4 p.m.

Chestnut Ridge, part of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, is a 112-bed Post-Acute Care facility that will replace the existing 72-bed Blowing Rock Rehabilitation and Davant Extended Care Center – formerly known as Blowing Rock Hospital. The new facility will provide rehabilitation, skilled nursing care, palliative care and memory support care.

“Looking to the future, Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock, will allow Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) to take care of the right patient, at the right place, at the right time,”said ARHS president and CEO Richard Sparks.

The public is invited to attend this momentous occasion. Due to road construction and limited accessibility, those who wish to attend the groundbreaking are asked to park at Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway in Blowing Rock and ride an ARHS shuttle to the property. Multiple shuttles will run every 15 minutes from 1:15 pm until 2 pm.

Map for Tanger Shoppes on the Parkway

To learn more about Chestnut Ridge at Blowing Rock or visit or call (828) 262-4391.

Raising Awareness of Men’s Health Issues

Men fill roles that encompass a wide range of responsibilities, including fathers, husbands, employees, bosses, mentors, coaches, and caregivers, and to perform well in all of them good health is of utmost importance. Yet men’s life expectancy is five years less than women’s, for no biologically proven reason. The reasons for this lower life expectancy come from a variety of issues including an absence of education directed toward men on health issues, a reluctance to take action and go to the doctor as well as a reluctance to discuss health issues, and a tendency to engage in risky behaviors.

So we’re here to spread the news about Men’s Health Week, celebrated worldwide June 9-15, and help raise awareness of preventative health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of diseases common for men.

Jay Krakovitz, MD

Jay Krakovitz, MD

“Men need preventative maintenance, just like their beloved cars and trucks,” stated Dr. Jay Krakovitz of Watauga Internal Medicine.

If you’re a man reading this, the first step you take should be to schedule a full physical with your primary care physician. Remember how your mother used to take you to the doctor every year for a check up? The need for those didn’t go away after you turned 16. In fact, as you get older, certain screenings and tests become very important for good health. And if you’re a woman reading this blog, then go right away and persuade your husband, father, brother, or partner to schedule a doctor’s appointment. Here are a few very important reasons why:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men, and preventative measures and medications can help control this.
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death in men, and many forms are treatable if caught early.
  • Men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women. Good physical health can go a long way toward maintaining good mental health, and a regular check-in with a doctor could help alert you to signs of depression or anxiety.

Important Screenings

During that doctor visit you are getting ready to schedule, make sure you complete the age appropriate screenings.

35 and over: Cholesterol and blood pressure. These should be checked at least every two years.

50 and over: Colonoscopy, to check for colon cancer

55 and over: Lung cancer screening, if you have a 30-pack a year history and smoke or have smoked two packs per day in the past 15 years.

Prostate cancer is another common cancer that is often treatable when caught early. While PSA screenings are not recommended, if you are regularly visiting your doctor he or she will be alert to changes and symptoms and will be able to take the necessary steps.

Overall Health

Making an appointment with the doctor is just the first step. The other goal of Men’s Health Week is to encourage healthy habits for a better quality of life. Set a goal today to make a few simple changes that will have you feeling better in no time.

• Improve your diet. Take small steps and do it gradually, but make improvements like eating smaller portions, less salt and more vegetables.

• Get active. Join a gym, sign up for a sports team, or just get outside and throw the Frisbee with your kids or take the dog on a walk.

• Get better sleep. Try to get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night, and stick to a schedule as much as possible, even on the weekends.

For more great ideas and encouragement, check out the blog on The Men’s Health Network, Talking About Men’s Health.

If you do not have a primary care physician, visit To make an appointment with Dr. Krakovitz at Watauga Internal Medicine, call (828) 262-0060.



Quilt of Valor presented to veteran at Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center

Before last week, Cathy Smith had never met John “Pete” Absher. She was unaware that he was born and raised in Ashe County, enjoyed bluegrass music or had his own Christmas tree farm. She did not know that that he was a father of two, loved to travel or even that he was approaching his 87th birthday. All she knew was that John was a veteran, who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. For Cathy, that was all she needed to know.

Cathy Smith at her sewing machine in her home in Valle Crucis.

Cathy Smith at her sewing machine in her home in Valle Crucis.

Cathy was raised on a farm in a small cotton mill town right outside of Greensboro.While growing up, she performed a variety of farm chores, developed a love for horses and became a fourth generation quilter. After moving to the mountains to study at Appalachian State University, Cathy worked as a horseback riding instructor at both Lees McRae College and Appalachian State University for 30 years. In 2008, after her two boys made it through college, she decided that it was time to hang up her spurs professionally and start a new career in health care.

As the Quality Analyst for Medical Records at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, Cathy oversees the accuracy of all patient records at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital. Cathy has remained an avid quilter and can be found unwinding from a busy day at work at her sewing machine in her home in Valle Crucis.

“Quilting is like cutting firewood,” said Smith with a grin. “It warms you in so many ways.”

This year, Cathy decided to participate in the Quilts of Valor (QOV)program. Established in 2003, its mission is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. Since its inception, nearly 100,000 quilts have been made and presented to these service members.

“When you think about the freedom that we as Americans enjoy, I think it is important to stop and thank the good Lord above and our troops for their service,” said Smith. “The Quilts of Valor program allows quilters like me an opportunity to express our gratitude.”

Cathy’s 2014 New Year’s Resolution goal was to create a Quilt of Valor in memory of her grandfather, a World War II veteran. Not knowing who the quilt recipient would be, actually added to her excitement for the project.

As any good seamstress will tell you, the first step in constructing a good quilt involves gathering the right fabric. After conducting a careful search, she was overjoyed to discover a red, white and blue pattern called A New Beginning.

”I knew I was on the right track when I found that fabric,” smiled Smith. “For so many service members, the Quilt of Valor serves as a shield from nightmares and a symbol of pride. I wanted the recipient of this quilt to feel that they can have hope and A New Beginning.”

From start to finish, it took Cathy two months to put the final touches on her Quilt of Valor. Once complete, she began asking her ARHS colleagues if they knew of any current patients who had served in the military. Her inquiry led her to John “Pete” Absher at the Cancer Center.

Cathy Smith presents John Absher with a Quilt of Valor at the Seby B. Jones Regional Caner Center.

Cathy Smith presents John Absher with a Quilt of Valor at the Seby B. Jones Regional Caner Center.

When John turned 18, the Army drafted him into World War II. After the war, he went on to serve in the military for 20 years before retiring as a Master Sergeant in 1966. Shortly after his retirement, John was hired by Ashe County High School to instruct the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. He taught at the high school for three and a half years before retiring for good. On occasion, some of his former students still affectionately refer to him as “Sarge” when they see him around town.

Unfortunately, John’s carefree retirement years were cut short earlier this year when he was diagnosed with stage 4 Esophageal Cancer. After a consult at Ashe Memorial Hospital, John was referred to Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center in April, where he began chemotherapy treatments.

“Things were certainly starting to stack up against me,” said John while gazing out the window of the Cancer Center. “Looking back, I still find it hard to believe, that while I was coming to grips with the toughest war I’d ever been drafted into, there was a guardian angel already looking out for me.”

John’s guardian angel came in the form of Cathy Smith. Armed with a heart full of compassion, a tender smile and her Quilt of Valor she made her way to the Cancer Center to honor her “unknown” solider.

Before meeting for the first time Cathy said, “I was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I wasn’t sure what to say or how to say it. I just wanted him to feel loved and appreciated.”

The moment shared between the two was timeless. For just a moment, as the Quilt of Valor was being presented, John was able to forget about his cancer. The two hugged, traded tears and shared an unvoiced appreciation for each other that words could not give justice.

“I remember a time when being a serviceman was frowned upon,” said John. “Today, after all of these years, to be honored in this way feels like a dream too good to be true.”

The moment shared between the two strangers ended in a friendship. An uncommon friendship, woven together with fabric, service, respect and thanksgiving.

John still receives treatment at the Cancer Center and will likely for the remainder of his life. However, the retired solder does not complain. He holds his head high and on cool mountain evenings, John enjoys gazing at the stars in his rocking chair, under his quilt, his Quilt of Valor.

To learn more about the Quilts of Valor program visit To learn more about the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center call 828-262-4332 or visit

Miller Donates Artwork Series to Medical Center

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and Foundation board member and long-time Boone resident, Joe Miller, made a generous donation of original artwork to Watauga Medical Center. The series of paintings appear in Miller’s new children’s book, One Night, Two Moons.

Claire Cline, Sr. Vice President for Patient Care, Joe Miller and Diane Gates, RN, Birthing Center Director

Claire Cline, Sr. Vice President for Patient Care, Joe Miller and Diane Gates, RN, Birthing Center Director

The paintings are located on the 3rd floor of the medical center between the Marchese Birthing Center and the new born nursery. The story in paintings is displayed on one wall, while paintings of the individual characters and additional scenes are displayed on another wall. Miller has condensed the story so that visitors are able to read along with the book as they view the artwork.

“Joe Miller’s paintings are a beautiful addition to our hospital,” shared Rob Hudspeth, Sr. Vice President for System Advancement for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. “I believe children and adults alike will enjoy them.”

Miller, owner of Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff, has also donated a limited number of copies of One Night, Two Moons for sale in the hospital gift shop.

For more information about Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation, visit

Finding Support for Diabetes

Did you know that 640,000 adults in North Carolina have been diagnosed with diabetes? That’s a big number, almost 10 percent of the population. But if you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you might not feel that way. It can be an isolating disease.

All of a sudden you have to pay really close attention to what you eat, saying no to the dessert table at the family reunion where everyone else is loading up their plate. You now have to be extra vigilant about sticking to your exercise routine, and not falling into that New Year’s resolution habit of starting strong and petering out.

Fortunately, you are not alone. And we are here to help. Appalachian Regional Healthcare System has a diabetes support group that meets once a month at the Watauga Medical Center Auditorium. Here you will find other people to talk with, get great information, and share your worries and concerns.

The support group is open to people with diabetes as well as their friends and family.  Because as we all know, diabetes affects more than just the person diagnosed.

Having the support of your family can go a long way in sticking to the healthy lifestyle choices necessary for someone with diabetes. Luckily, there are some great ways for everyone to get on board. Have snacks such as apples, oranges, unsalted nuts, and dried fruit on-hand to avoid reaching for cookies and potato chips. And make regular exercise a family event, whether it’s a walk around your neighborhood or a hike in our beautiful mountains. Pretty soon everyone in your family will be feeling happier and healthier!

To learn more about the diabetes support group, contact Linda Bond, Certified Diabetes Educator, at (828) 262-4177.

For more information, visit the American Diabetes Association’s website at


Think F.A.S.T.

When it comes to stroke care, time is of the essence. Getting appropriate medical care at the first symptoms of stroke can greatly improve the outcomes, lessening the possibility of paralysis or even death.

As May is National Stroke Awareness Month, this is a perfect time to educate yourself and others on the signs and symptoms of stroke. An easy way is to remember to “Think F.A.S.T.,” the National Stroke Association acronym detailing the basic signs of stroke:

FACE: Does one side of the face droop when the person smiles?

ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift downward?

SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

While getting someone to the hospital is important, what happens once there is critical. Watauga Medical Center has been designated a Primary Stroke Care Center for our region, which means people in our area have access to the exceptional care and facilities important specifically to stroke care. The staff has met education and certification standards, and the hospital is committed to having care at the patient’s bedside within 15 minutes and a brain scan performed and interpreted within an hour. Therapeutic measures taken within the first 2 hours of signs of a stroke can greatly improve a person’s outcomes, and with a dedicated stroke team it is more likely this time constraint will be met for people within our community.

Be sure to share with your friends and family the signs and symptoms of stroke. And if you happen to be in a situation where you think someone might be showing these symptoms, let your medical team know to take you to the nearest Primary Stroke Center for the best care possible.


A Dream Fulfilled: Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center

Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center

Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center

Alphonse Marie Louis, the 17th century French writer, poet and politician once said, “There is a woman at the beginning of all great things.”

When looking back to its humble beginnings, this was certainly the case for Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center, part of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS).

In the beginning

“I remember when the dream of having a Wellness Center in Boone was just that, a dream,” said Jodi Cash, Director of the Wellness Center.

Jodi Cash

Jodi Cash

Cash, a Watauga County native and fitness enthusiast, can clearly recall the excitement she felt 19 years ago when Richard Sparks, then President of Watauga Medical Center (WMC), first shared his vision for opening a Wellness Center. As a result of his vision, a needs assessment was conducted for a Wellness Center in Boone. The study revealed that, though the High Country is home to ample outdoor fitness opportunities, it severely lacked indoor wellness options for residents.

“I will never forget those early conversations I had with Richard,” said Cash with a reminiscent smile. “As a leader in the community in which I grew up, it was inspiring to watch him lobby for improvements in my hometown.”

Once the project was approved, she was hired to lead the initiative from its onset. Always known as one who could overcome obstacles, the swim coach, who grew up rock climbing with her father, felt up to the challenge. She fondly remembers her first work space as a couch outside of the Human Resources office. Soon after, a temporary fitness room consisting of a treadmill, a stepper machine and a desk for Jodi was set up right beside the WMC cafeteria.

“I spent most of my time in the beginning surveying different community groups to determine wellness interests,” said Cash. “The excitement around the project proved to be contagious and far reaching.”

Thanks in large part to the lead gift from Paul H. Broyhill and a host of more than 200 other donors, a total surpassing $2.5 million was raised over the years in support of the two-part massive construction project. A ceremonial ground-breaking took place in 1996 and in 1998 Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center opened its doors to the community.

The second phase took place in 2005, when the lap pool, therapy pool and more than 22,000 square feet were added to the facility.  

More than a Gym

The 63,000-square-foot Wellness Center includes an indoor track, two pools, racquetball and basketball courts, a variety of fitness classes, a fully equipped cardio gym, locker rooms, a massage therapy studio and childcare services. 

Beyond its extensive list of amenities the Wellness Center fitness staff is perhaps even more impressive. The highly trained and supportive staff all share backgrounds in either exercise science or health promotion.

Paul Moore, Assistant Director of the Wellness Center, is a registered dietitian who has won multiple awards through the North Carolina Dietitian Association (NCDA). Most recently, Moore received the Outstanding Dietitian of the Year Award in 2012 and the Young Dietitian of the Year Award in 2013. Thanks to Moore, members can learn about, measure and improve their nutrition as it aligns with their desired fitness outcomes.

“The goal from the very beginning has always been to establish a place for the community to connect.” said Cash. “Over the years, we have worked hard to create an inclusive culture by means of not just welcoming new members, but getting them plugged in.”

An example of this can be found in CrossFit Boone. CrossFit, a premiere strength and conditioning program, was brought to Boone in 2012. The program, which welcomes more than 400 visits a month, has become a community within a community for members of the Wellness Center.

Debra Williams, a work from home artist and mom said, “I love the community of CrossFit Boone. The members have become [for me and my husband] our family in Boone.”

In addition to CrossFit Boone, the Wellness Center offers an array of other adult fitness classes. A few of the most popular include Zumba, Yoga, Spin, Water Fitness, Triple Threat and Prenatal exercise classes. The Wellness Center also provides a variety of youth programs, including BLAST, Youth Strength and Conditioning and Kid Strong.  

Continuum of Care

As an invaluable component to the healthcare system, Sparks’ vision from the beginning was to have the Wellness Center also serve as a place for patients to have access to rehabilitation services. From the beginning, a section of the Wellness Center was allocated for physical therapy.

The current Rehabilitation Center, adjacent to the Wellness Center, was added in 2005 as part of the phase two expansion project. The location of the facility allows patients access to the Wellness Center’s strength and conditioning equipment and pools. The Rehabilitation Center staff offer comprehensive, multidisciplinary services including treatment for neurologic, orthopeadic, women’s health, Lymphedema prevention/ management and chronic health conditions.

In July 2013, ARHS opened Appalachian Regional Orthopeadic and Sports Medicine Center (AppOrtho). This step proved to be the capstone piece to the healthcare system’s ongoing effort to provide a comprehensive continuum of care for patients in the High Country. AppOrtho, the official sports medicine provider for Appalachian State University Athletics, consists of an expert team of two board certified orthopeadic surgeons and a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician.

“We have come a long way in the past 16 years,” said Sparks. “Thanks to the addition of AppOrtho, patients, in most cases may now stay on the mountain for their surgery, rehab and transition back to wellness.”

THRIVE, is one of the programs that has originated as a result of the continuum of care available through the healthcare system. THRIVE is a medically supervised program at the Wellness Center that transitions patients from more acute phases of chronic disease management to wellness. The program, which requires a physician referral, consists of a Cardiopulmonary Track as well as an Oncology Track. Since its inception in 2011, THRIVE has helped 110 patients improve their quality of life.

Looking Forward

When asked about future plans for the Wellness Center, Cash simply smiled and answered, “Making our wellness community even stronger.”

“We are constantly looking to see how we can flex and grow our programs to reach and benefit more people in our community,” she said.   

In 2013, the Wellness Center began offering the Silver Sneakers program to members who qualify. Silver Sneakers is an energizing program that helps older adults take greater control of their health by encouraging physical activity.

In the months ahead, another new addition to the Wellness Center is being made thanks to funds raised through ARHS Foundation. In an effort to provide a safe wellness home for everyone, the Foundation purchased an Apex Challenge 7,000 machine optimized for wheelchair users. This unique piece of equipment will allow these members to perform a variety of exercises at the Wellness Center independently.

The Wellness Center, home to more than 2,200 active members, has truly grown from its humble beginnings. Its state-of-the-art facility, paired with its invaluable partnership with the healthcare system, has made the Wellness Center a pillar of fitness, health and community in the High Country.

“To be honest, I get emotional just thinking about how the dream has become a reality over the years,” said Cash. “I truly feel honored to be a part of something much bigger than myself that is doing so much good for our community.”

To learn more about the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center visit

Digital Mammography now available at Cannon Memorial Hospital

Charles A. Cannon Jr. Memorial Hospital (CMH) is excited to be the first in Avery County to offer breast cancer screenings using full field digital mammography. With the recent installation of the Selenia® Dimensions 2D full field digital mammography system, all mammography patients at CMH will be imaged with the most state of the art equipment available.

“Now that we have Full Field Digital mammography, the women of Avery County can receive the breast care they deserve close to home,” said Martha Daniels, Lead Mammographer at CMH. “We are very excited to be a part of offering the latest technology to women in the High Country.”

Digital mammography is different from conventional or film-screen mammography in how the image of the breast is acquired and, more importantly, viewed. The radiologist can magnify the images, increase or decrease the contrast and invert the black and white values while reading the images. These features allow the radiologist to better evaluate micro- calcifications and better evaluate any areas of concern.

For most women 40 and over, an annual mammogram is the best way of finding breast cancer early. Mammograms play a central role in the early detection of breast cancer because they can detect changes in the breast that may be early signs of cancer, but are too small or subtle to be felt.

The use of mammography and in particular, digital mammography, has greatly enhanced the ability to detect breast cancer at an earlier stage, when it’s most treatable. Digital mammography detected significantly more cancers than screen-film mammography in woman 50 and younger, premenopausal and perimenopausal women, and women with dense breasts, according to results from the American College of Radiology Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (DMIST).

Breast cancer statistics are staggering:

  • One in eight women living in the U.S. will get breast cancer in a lifetime.(1)
  • Breast cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. It’s the leading cause of death in 35 to 65 year old women. (2)

The installation of full field digital mammography at CMH, part of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), allows radiologists to view breast images taken at Cannon Memorial Hospital or Watauga Medical Center at either facility. ARHS is committed to the fight against breast cancer, providing high quality, acute healthcare and preventative medical care in a compassionate and professional manner to all people who live, work or visit the high country.

For more information, please visit our web site at www., or call to schedule an appointment at 828-258-9037 or toll free 800-443-7385.

(1) 2009-2010 American Cancer Society, breast Cancer Facts and Figures
(2) World Health Organization

Get ready to Dance: Zumbathon is on February 21st

February is heart month and to help you get your heart pumping, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) is sponsoring a Zumbathon on Friday, February 21 from 4 – 7 pm at the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center, located at 232 Boone Heights Drive in Boone. The Zumbathon is an extension of the 2nd Annual Heart Shape event, which is taking place on Saturday, February 8 at the Wellness Center

Registration for the Zumbathon costs $10 and all proceeds will benefit the ARHS THRIVE Scholarship Program. THRIVE is a medically supervised program at the Wellness Center that transitions patients from more acute phases of chronic disease management to wellness. The program, which requires a physician referral, consists of a Cardiopulmonary Track as well as an Oncology Track

You can purchase your Zumbathon tickets at the Heart Shape Event on February 8th, or at the front desk of the Wellness Center.  

“I am honored to be able to take part in this Zumbathon,” said Gwen Dhing, Aerobics Instructor and Zumba leader at the Wellness Center. “Knowing that 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward such a worthy cause is truly heartwarming.”  

Since its inception in 2011, THRIVE has helped 110 patients improve their quality of life. The THRIVE Scholarship Program was established to ensure that all patients, regardless of financial barriers, would be able to benefit from the program.

Heart Shape T-shirts will be on sale for $16 dollars at the Wellness Center during the month of February while supplies last. On average, 40 percent of all T-shirt sales will go toward the THRIVE Scholarship Program. Additional cash or check donations may be made during the event.  

For more information about the Zumbathon or Heart Shape visit or call 828-268-8960. To learn more about the THRIVE program visit