Healthcare organizations today are tasked with constantly providing higher quality care at a lower cost. Every aspect of the patient experience must be approached with a passion for excellence and an eye toward efficiency and effectiveness. It's not easy. That's why receiving an Excellence in Patient Care Award-presented by Studer Group®, a Huron solution-is considered an honor in the industry.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) was awarded that honor on August 3rd. Specifically, ARHS is being recognized for excellence in employee engagement. This category awards those who sustain high employee engagement scores or demonstrate significant improvements in the area of employee engagement. These scores matter because employee engagement-along with leader, physician, and patient engagement-is linked to clinical quality, the patient experience, and various aspects of organizational performance. 
"Creating an environment that encourages employees to connect to their purpose, perform worthwhile work and make a difference in our community is vital to our success," says Chuck Mantooth, President & CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. "We are committed to providing opportunities for our employees to excel in their respective fields, enhance patient satisfaction and make life better for our community."
Excellence in Patient Care Awards are presented annually to a select group of organizations from Studer Group's partner base of hospitals, health systems, and physician organizations. To be eligible for an award, an organization must demonstrate outstanding performance and achievement in patient care, employee engagement, or physician engagement.
The awards was presented at the 15th annual What's Right in Health Care® best practices conference, which took place Aug. 1-3, 2017, in Chicago, Illinois. The conference attracts administrative and clinical healthcare professionals from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and beyond.
 aims to improve healthcare for patients, physicians, and staff through peer-to-peer sharing of leading practices. Presenters will share the strategies and tactics contributing to their top results in areas such as patient safety, emergency department wait times, and employee satisfaction.
"A big part of what we do is helping our partner organizations create cultures of high engagement," says Debbie Ritchie, president of Studer Group. "This really is a fundamental part of being able to provide high-quality care. Engaged employees are employees who do the right thing for patients, even when no one is watching. We're so proud of our award winners in this area and of all healthcare organizations that make engagement the priority it deserves to be."
About Appalachian Regional Healthcare System: 
About Appalachian Regional Healthcare System: Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), located in the NC High Country, is comprised of two hospitals - Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital in Linville and Watauga Medical Center in Boone - a physician practice management group - Appalachian Regional Medical Associates (ARMA) - The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge in Blowing Rock - and Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation.
Every member of our staff plays a role in delivering revolutionary patient-focused care for heart disease, cancer, orthopaedics, rehabilitation, obstetrics, emergency medicine, women's health and more. We're committed to bringing you the complete spectrum of healthcare - preventing illness, educating the healthcare professionals of tomorrow, enhancing treatment options and partnering with our community to build a healthier High Country.
Watauga Medical Center has been named a finalist for the 2017 QUEST Award for High-value Healthcare  from Premier Inc., a leading healthcare improvement company, for providing outstanding patient care. Only 21 hospitals received finalist recognition for achieving top performance in any five of the six areas measured in Premier'sQUEST collaborative, including cost and efficiency, evidence-based care, mortality, safety, patient and family engagement and appropriate hospital use.
In January 2017, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System became the first healthcare system in North Carolina to implement the American Heart Association's Resuscitation Quality Improvement® Program (AHA RQI® Program).
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System stays committed to promoting health in the High Country, enhancing quality of life and simply "making life better." For more information, visit
About Studer Group®, a Huron solution: 
Studer Group is an outcomes-based healthcare performance improvement firm that works with healthcare organizations in the United States, Canada, and beyond, teaching them how to achieve, sustain, and accelerate exceptional clinical, operational, and financial results. To learn more about Studer Group, a Huron solution, visit


How do you feel when you learn that someone close to you has been diagnosed with cancer? Most of us are flooded with empathy and a desire to help, but do not know where to start or what to expect.

Fortunately, Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center located in Boone, NC, serves as a refuge for individuals diagnosed with cancer. Bettie Bond is one of those individuals who found joy and beauty in all circumstances, even breast cancer.


An idea shared between young doctors serving as medics during World War II led Bettie’s father, Dr. Robert Bateman, and his colleagues to open a clinic in Somerset, Kentucky after the war. Dr. Bateman would marry, have four children, and go on to serve as Somerset and Danville’s adored "baby doctor" (OB-GYN) for many years.

As a child, Bettie enjoyed weekend trips with her siblings to the movie theatre in downtown Somerset. “Mother would give each of us a quarter, which was enough to purchase a movie ticket, a bag of popcorn and a Sugar Daddy candy bar. We had a blast and I lost all of my baby teeth to that Sugar Daddy! I know it also gave my mother a much needed break.”

Unfortunately, Bettie’s mother died from ovarian cancer in 1984. Bettie can still remember hearing her mother cry out in pain on the day of her death; a memory that still haunts her to this day.

The pursuit of higher education eventually led Bettie and her husband, John, to start their academic careers together at Appalachian State University in 1971. For 25 years, John taught as a professor of mycology and she taught history. The couple quickly fell in love with the High Country and today they remain active in community projects.


In May 2015, Bettie and her good friend Mary made their annual “shopping and mammogram” trip to Winston Salem, NC. “Although we both know that we can get our mammograms done in Boone, being able to go off the mountain to shop has made this annual screening something we have come to look forward to doing together. However, that year was different, that year I was diagnosed with breast cancer.”

As the nurse began to outline treatment options available in Winston Salem, Bettie fought back memories of her mother’s painful chemotherapy treatments.

“No,” she said, while politely interrupting the nurse. “I appreciate your help, but I would like to take care of this at home. The nurse flashed an understanding smile and said, ‘well of course, you have a great hospital and cancer center in Boone.’”

The nurse transferred Bettie’s medical records to her physician, Dr. John Palmer, at the Davant Medical Clinic in Blowing Rock, NC. Dr. Palmer confirmed the results and suggested that she meet with a specialist, Dr. Paul Dagher, at Watauga Surgical Group in Boone, NC.

After reviewing her case at Watauga Medical Center’s weekly tumor board meeting, Dr. Dagher recommended surgery, followed by chemotherapy at Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center.


“I have to be honest, there was nothing to my surgery,” she said with a grin. "I only had to spend one night in the hospital and I felt no pain afterward.”

A few weeks later, Bettie started her chemotherapy treatments at the Cancer Center or as she likes to refer to it, “the Spa.”

“They pamper you,” she said, referring to the nurses and volunteers in the infusion room. “All I had to do was sit back in the treatment chair and catch up on my New Yorker. From there, the nurses hooked me up for treatment, covered me with a warm blanket and brought me lunch. The best part was that I never had a sick day as a result of chemotherapy. I credit that in large part to my meticulous Medical Oncologist, Dr. Anna Sobol.”


According to Bettie, the hardest part of the whole treatment process was losing her hair. To help patients and their families cope with the emotional and physical toll of treatment or post-treatment, the Cancer Center offers a wide variety of classes for cancer survivors including the Radiance program, yoga, nutrition, lymphedema prevention and management, meditation, and a walking group.

One day, Bettie took part in a Radiance class by accident. “I just thought I had walked into a party,” she joked. “I remember meeting a handful of delightfully brave women, who were all losing their hair, eyebrows or fingernails as a result of treatment. Angie Shoemake, the Cancer Center’s social worker, brought in a ton of war paint [makeup] for us to learn how to address the cosmetic side effects of chemotherapy.”

The Radiance program is led by licensed estheticians and cosmetologists who volunteer their time to provide skin therapy, makeup tips and head coverings from the Cancer Center’s wig boutique. Assisting women to cope with the physical side effects of cancer treatments was originally an American Cancer Society initiative started more than 25 years ago. The Cancer Center’s localized adaptation, Radiance, has restored courage, beauty and dignity for hundreds of High Country cancer survivors.

“Angie taught me a lot more than just how to tie a turban around my head,” said Bettie. “She invited me into a special space reserved for women who know just what I am going through. And let me tell you something else, these women are fun. We laughed and cried and laughed some more. This wonderful group of ladies could find joy and beauty in everything.”

In spring of 2017, after her surgery and six months of chemotherapy, Bettie was considered cancer free.

“I am so appreciative for this hospital, this cancer center and most importantly modern medicine,” she said. “When I think about my mother and how far healthcare has come since her passing, I truly believe modern medicine is what saved my life.”


Pictured above: Vickie Fuller, Angela Wilson, Pat Parks.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s 13th Annual Pretty in Pink event was held on June 16, 2017 at Linville Ridge Country Club. Nearly 200 women from the surrounding areas gathered for a luncheon and fashion show in support of providing free, first-time mammograms to uninsured women in Avery County. These funds directly impact the lives of women living in Avery County to help aid early breast cancer detection.

Watauga Medical Center has been named a finalist for the 2017 QUEST Award for High-value Healthcare from Premier Inc., a leading healthcare improvement company, for providing outstanding patient care.

Only 21 hospitals received finalist recognition for achieving top performance in any five of the six areas measured in Premier'sQUEST collaborative, including cost and efficiency, evidence-based care, mortality, safety, patient and family engagement and appropriate hospital use.

Have you ever wondered why bad things happen to good people? Or, for that matter, marveled at how “good” people respond in times of crisis? Much can be learned from those who choose to rephrase the question above to why not me? Shirley Ellison, 60, of Deep Gap, NC, is one of those good people and her story will inspire you to see every new trial as an opportunity.

Ellison grew up in a farm house that her father built in Sugar Grove, NC. As a child, she attended Bethel Elementary School with her four siblings while her parents worked diligently to keep food on the table.