Watauga Medical Center

Plaque Dedicated in Honor of Leonard Solomon

On September 19th, a plaque will be dedicated in the Watauga Medical Center Lobby in memory of Leonard Solomon, a long time supporter of the High Country community. The ceremony will take place at 12:00 p.m., with a reception to follow. Friends and family of Mr. Solomon and the community are invited to attend. Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation would like to thank his wife, Sandi Finci Solomon, for her generous and continuous support of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.

Leonard Solomon

Leonard Solomon

Mr. Solomon was a driven and generous individual. He supported many causes around the world including the Global Hunger Project, Salvation Army, JAFCO, The Mayo Clinic, the Temple of the High Country, Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, and Appalachian State University.  At the age of 53, he was only one of thirty-two cyclists to complete a TransAmerica Bike Marathon to end hunger. The route took him from Ft. Lauderdale to San Francisco, a total distance of 4,200 miles. Through his philanthropic efforts he met three former presidents and was invited to the White House.
In 1984, he ran with the Olympic torch. At age 71, Mr. Solomon roller bladed 150 miles in 17 hours to raise money for Kids Ecology Corps, an organization he’d co-founded, and at the age of 80, he completed a 150 mile bike ride to benefit Multiple Sclerosis.

Mr. Solomon was also a successful entrepreneur, reflected in his first business venture, Home Inc.  Additionally, Budget Rent-a-Car was one of his company’s original franchisees. He co-founded the Northern Virginia Racquet Club and Heritage Motor Car Company in addition to being a franchisee of a Wuv’s and Kilwins Ice Cream.

Mr. Solomon’s generosity and kindness have both benefited and inspired many people with whom he crossed paths. He and his wife, Sandi, have been and continue to be incredibly generous to the mountain community. They have inspired others and are highly respected for their philanthropy. Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is honored to dedicate a plaque in his memory in hopes that it will continue to encourage and inspire others by the legacy he created.

Urgent Care Vs. Emergency Room: Making the Decision

AppUrgent Care Center

AppUrgent Care Center

The following scenarios are fictitious and not based on real people.

It’s 5:30 on a Wednesday evening. Sue has just picked up her kindergartener Billy from after-school care and he tells her his ear has been hurting all day. When they get home she checks his temperature, and isn’t surprised when she sees he has a fever, a temperature of 103 degrees. He’s had two ear infections already this winter, this must be another one. If they can get him antibiotics soon, he might only miss one day of school. This is a perfect opportunity to visit the AppUrgent Care Centeropen weekdays 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Saturday night at 2 a.m., Joe wakes up with a gripping pain in his chest. Without thinking twice, his wife Carol calls 911 and Joe is transported to the emergency room at Watauga Medical Centerwhere he is immediately taken back and taken through the appropriate tests. It turns out he had a minor heart attack, and Carol’s quick trip to the ER might have saved his life.

Emergency Department Entrance at Watauga Medical Center

Emergency Department Entrance at Watauga Medical Center

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is fortunate to be able to provide both emergency services and urgent care services for people in our communities. But for many people, it is hard to know where to go. The examples above are two very black and white cases, but there are many more that are not that clear cut. Overall, you can feel safe in making decisions for your family by using the following guidelines.

Urgent Care Centers

  • Sprains and broken bones
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Ear infections, cough, or sore throat
  • Animal bites
  • Cuts or minor laceration repairs
  • Urinary Tract Infections

Emergency Centers

Emergency Department Entrance at Cannon Memorial Department

Emergency Department Entrance at Cannon Memorial Department

  • Chest pain
  • Stroke symptoms
  • Severe/sudden pain
  • Severe Bleeding
  • Head injury
  • Difficulty Breathing

The rule of thumb is that emergency centers are equipped to treat severe and life-threatening illnesses and conditions. The doctors and medical staff have been trained in these areas and have the appropriate equipment and labs to run tests and prescribe medicine to treat traumas in the best possible manner.

Urgent care centers, on the other hand, can often be confused with emergency departments because they are also a place where you can come on a walk-in basis. But they are set up for less severe illnesses and injuries. The extended and weekend hours make them an appropriate place to go for things that you would normally visit your primary care physician for, but can’t because it’s after hours. They are also equipped to handle sprains and broken bones and other minor injuries. In most cases it’s cheaper and faster to visit the urgent care than the emergency room!

Understanding the differences and the types of services each provide will help you be able to plan where to go when the moment of need arises. And if there’s any doubt, call your primary care physician to ask which is the best place to go for your illness or injury.

For more information about AppUrgent Care Center (2146 Blowing Rock Road, Boone, NC 28607), visit www.apprhs.org/arma/appurgent-care-center.

For more information about the Emergency Department at Watauga Medical Center (336 Deerfield Road, Boone, NC 28607) and Cannon Memorial Hospital (434 Hospital Drive, Linville, NC 28646), visit… https://www.apprhs.org/emergency-services





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 www.apprhs.org/foundation.

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  www.diabetes.org/


Back in the Saddle: Bike racing professor gives thanks to App Ortho post surgery

“Why drive when you can ride?” asked Gregg Marland, Research Professor at Appalachian State University. The 71 year-old educator, who specializes in environment, energy, and economics had opted to ride his bike to work faithfully every day for two years.

Gregg Marland

Gregg Marland

“I enjoy both the global sustainability and the recreational and competitive opportunities that riding a bike can provide,” said Marland, an experienced rider and weekend cyclocross racer.

Cyclocross, also known as cross country bicycle racing, is a well known European sport that is growing in popularity in the United States. The High Country has long served as an attraction for bicycle enthusiasts and provides an ideal backdrop for cyclocross events. These mountain bike racers can expect the unexpected as they are challenged in each race to navigate through an array of manmade obstacles and overcome a variety of natural terrain barriers.

Last October, Marland entered into a cyclocross race at the Watauga County fairgrounds. Fueled with adrenaline, Marland was having a great race when tragedy struck. While banking, in a slippery hairpin turn, Marland lost control of his bike and crashed.

“I was big time hurting,” said Marland, who at the time was stranded in the middle of the course unable to move.  

Boone Bike, the sponsor of the race, responded quickly by helping Marland safely off of the course. Bonnie, Marland’s wife, was next on the scene. With the help of the race event staff, she was able to quickly load her husband into their car and head to a nearby urgent care.

The situation escalated after several anxious minutes and an x-ray scan which revealed that he had fractured his femur in the crash. The urgent care staff quickly placed Marland on a backboard and loaded him into an ambulance in route for the Emergency Department at Watauga Medical Center (WMC).

Dr. Evan Ekman

Dr. Evan Ekman

“I’ll never forget what happened next,” said Marland referring to when Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Evan F. Ekman approached his bedside in the emergency room. Dr. Ekman, Medical Director of Appalachian Regional Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center (AROSMC), informed Marland that he had suffered an injury to his hip and his knee. He went on to state that it was imperative to address the hip injury first and once repaired, they would address the injured knee.

Marland gave an understanding nod as Dr. Ekman proceeded to share with his patient that he would need hip surgery and that he had a procedural decision to make. Dr. Ekman explained that the first and most common treatment option was to repair the femur fracture through an open reduction internal fixation procedure. This option is typically a popular and effective choice for patients in their 70s with limited functionality. However, after getting to know the patient and appreciating his active lifestyle, Dr. Ekman recommended waiting 24 hours for parts to be ordered for a second procedural option called a standard endoprosthetic replacement. This procedure involves replacing one half of the hip joint with a prosthetic, while leaving the other half intact. Dr. Ekman explained that this option would entail installing a prosthetic femoral head in the knee socket that would swivel during movement, thus helping to reduce the amount of wear and tear on the new joint for longer lasting results. He also added that the second option should allow him to get back on a bike within six weeks.

“Dr. Ekman did not write me off as an old man. He saw beyond the injury to the person and was truly committed to helping me maintain my lifestyle,” said Marland.

Due to considerable misplacement from his injuries, Marland spent the night at WMC with Bonnie by his side. As planned, he was scheduled for surgery the next day and the procedure was completed without complication.

After his surgery, Dr. Ekman referred his patient to the healthcare system’s Rehabilitation Center in Boone. Located within a mile of WMC, the outpatient rehab facility offers its patients convenient and comprehensive care. The team of physical therapists spent the next month restoring Marland’s strength, range of motion and balance.

At a follow up appointment just weeks after his hip surgery, Dr. Ekman marveled at how quickly his patient’s level of function had been restored.

Eager to get back on his bike, Marland asked, “Can we get to my knee now?”

“You bet,” said Dr. Ekman as a smile spread across his face. As before, the surgeon took great care in explaining to his patient that there was a minimally invasive surgery option available to correct his injured knee.

By means of outpatient surgery at WMC, Dr. Ekman was able to correct his patient’s injured meniscus through two tiny pinhole incisions inserted into Marland’s knee. Within an hour after surgery, Marland was literally feeling better in the recovery room. This was welcome news to the professor who had reluctantly driven his car to work since his crash.

In a follow up appointment, right at six weeks post injury, Dr. Ekman gave Marland permission to get back on his bike again.

“The whole process has been seamless,” said Marland with a grin. “The transition from surgery to rehab to mounting my bike again within such a short time span has been truly remarkable.”

“The goal of App Ortho as it aligns with the healthcare system is to provide a continuum of care that simply put ‘makes life better’ for its patients,” said Dr. Ekman. “The fact that we were able to customize a treatment plan to address the multiple injuries suffered by this high functioning adult without impairing his pace of recovery, speaks volumes to the quality of care available here in the High Country.”

To learn more about Appalachian Regional Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Center in Boone call 828-386-BONE (2663) or visit www.apprhs.org/ortho. To learn more about surgical services at Watauga Medical Center visit www.apprhs.org/surgical-services.

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.


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.


  • 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.