Flu Season is Upon Us!

Great advice from our friends at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System

The flu season began October 1 and runs through May, and according to The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina has already seen its first two deaths as a result of flu. As a visitor to our facilities, you play an important part in preserving the health and safety of patients.

The following precautions can protect our patients, as well as visitors, from the spread of infection.

Clean your hands before and after visiting

Scientists of America showed in their persuasive essay outline that cleaning hands and doing well with hygiene can positively influence on the health

The soap, water and hand sanitizer in the patient rooms are for everyone. Wash or sanitize your hands when entering and leaving the room of the person you are visiting to avoid bringing in and carrying out germs. Insist any healthcare provider do the same before caring for your loved one. Do not sit on patient beds or handle their equipment.

Check with nurses before you bring in food, send flowers or bring children

While flowers, young visitors and home-baked dishes spread cheer, they may not be allowed, so check with the nurse first. Cut flowers but not potted plants may be allowed in intensive care units. If you change the water in a vase of flowers, make sure to wash your hands afterwards. No children under the age of 12 can visit in the Intensive Care Unit. Children elsewhere in the hospital should not disturb the other patients. Bringing food is risky because the patient may be on a special diet or the food could spoil and make the patient sick. Half eaten food cannot be returned to the refrigerator and must be discarded.

Practice Cough Etiquette

Do not cough or sneeze into your hands. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue. Discard tissue in the trash immediately after use. Wash your hands or use an alcohol hand sanitizer.

Isolation Precautions: Read & follow any instructions posted outside the door

Contact Precautions: you must wear gloves and a gown when entering the room.
Droplet or Airborne Precautions: you must wear a mask when entering the room.
If the patient you visit has a sign on the door you are required to obey it. Please talk to the nurses if you need assistance. Although you may have been around this person or live with this person, we must protect the other hospital patients and visitors. You can ask the nurse for any educational materials that may be available.

Stay at home if you are sick

Do not visit the hospital if you are sick or have had any ill symptoms within the last three days including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, rash or uncontrolled cough.

Watauga Medical Center earns 4-star rating for quality

Boone, NC (January 8, 2017) – Watauga Medical Center recently received an above average 4-star rating for its quality of patient care services from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) scores more than 4,000 hospitals across the country using a Hospital Compare rating system ranging from 1 to 5 stars (5 being the best). The CMS ratings are publically available on the Hospital Compare website and are intended to help consumers more easily decide between hospitals in their area.

CMS generates the overall hospital star rating on a quarterly basis by combining multiple dimensions of quality into a single summary score. The quality rating categories include patient experience, timely and effective care, complications and death rate, readmission rate, use of medical imaging and value of care. In 2017, the national average was 3-stars.

“Receiving a 4-star rating for quality exemplifies Watauga Medical Center’s unwavering commitment to provide compassionate and quality care in this community,” said Chuck Mantooth, President and CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.

The national CMS 4-star recognition comes on the heels of Watauga Medical Center’s most recent “A” safety grade from Leapfrog, a national nonprofit healthcare ratings organization. Watauga Medical Center was one of 832 hospitals across the country awarded an “A” for its commitment to keeping patients safe and meeting the highest safety standards in the U.S.

To view Watauga Medical Center’s rating, visit https://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare.

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

Tips to Avoid the Flu {From Appalachian Regional Healthcare System}

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, seasonal flu activity continues to increase in the U.S. The proportion of people seeing their healthcare provider for influenza-like illness increased sharply from last week and has been at or above the national baseline for three weeks so far this season.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s hospital emergency rooms, along with the physician offices and AppUrgent Care, have also seen an increase in the number of people presenting with influenza-like illness.

“Our top priority is to take every appropriate precaution to keep our patients and residents safe,” stated Dr. Danielle Mahaffey, Chief Physician Executive for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. “We are appealing to community members who may be ill with the flu, or exposed to the flu, to refrain from visiting hospitalized or long-term care family and friends in order to help us protect the patients in our facilities.”

Tips to avoid the flu

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. Listed below are several things you can do to prevent catching or spreading the flu.

  • 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.

Symptons of flu

Recognizable Symptoms Include:

  • 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.

When to seek care

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.cdc.gov/flu.

Local 11-year-old starts a beary special program at Watauga Medical Center

Lula_Natalie_and_Kevin_680
Few things in life can seem scarier than the thought of surgery – especially for an 11-year-old. After her tonsillectomy at Watauga Medical Center, Lula Bovino awoke last December to find a teddy bear nestled beside her in the recovery room. This unexpected companion surprised and encouraged both Lula and her mother Natalie, a Registered Nurse in Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s (ARHS) Anesthesia Department.

Natalie’s supervisor and hospital Chief Nurse Anesthetist, Kevin Henson, assisted with the surgery. He was also the one who surprised Lula with the teddy bear.

“My mom did a good job of telling me what to expect beforehand, but I was still scared when I woke up from surgery,” said Lula. “Then I saw the bear sitting beside me and I felt safe.”

Bear in mind

A few days later, Lula asked her mother if she could start her own teddy bear program at the hospital. “I may not be old enough to help mom in the operating room,” she said. “But it is certainly one way I can help other kids feel better or at least more at ease.”

“The idea was met with tremendous enthusiasm from both the hospital and the community,” said Natalie. “We held our first teddy bear fundraiser a few weeks ago at our church. I offered blood pressure checks while Lula worked the bear donation table. Needless to say, it was a big success.”

The Bovino family also posted an ad on Amazon. Their Web page allows donors to easily shop for and contribute bears to the cause. After the bears are received, Lula and Natalie carefully outfit each teddy bear with a pair of scrubs and a tag that reads ‘You’re Beary Special to us at Watauga Medical Center’. To date, more than 40 children have received a teddy bear from Lula’s teddy bear program.

Bare necessities

Lula is a 6th grade student at Blowing Rock Elementary School with a passion for singing in her church choir and playing any instrument she can get her hands on. Natalie works full-time at Watauga Medical Center and is currently studying to become a Family Nurse Practitioner.

Despite their busy schedules, they reconnect in the evenings for special mom and daughter strolls around Bass Lake in Blowing Rock, NC. On these walks, they often skip rocks, play hide-and-seek and quiz each other with school related flash cards. Natalie also uses this time to tell her daughter if a teddy bear had been handed out that day at work. Lula, who has never witnessed a teddy bear patient delivery, loves to hear about the recipient’s reaction and whether or not it made a difference. It always makes a difference.

“I think my mom is a great nurse and an amazing influence on my life,” said Lula. “No matter what, she always makes the best out of all situations and I admire her for that.”

“Words cannot describe how proud and grateful I am to be Lula’s mom,” said Natalie. “Lula is so wise to recognize that sometimes, great big bear hugs are all we really need.”

For more information about how you can contribute to Lula’s teddy bear program click here.

Public Health Advisory: Smoke Exposure from the fire in Watauga County NC

app-health-careWatauga County, NC (November 23, 2016)– AppHealthCare (Appalachian District Health Department) and Appalachian Regional Healthcare System are advising residents and visitors to be aware of the possibility of smoke from Sampson/Horton fire in the southern portion of Watauga County.

State health officials from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services recommend the following information. Wildfires present health risks for everyone, but wildfire smoke may cause eye irritation, cough, sore throat, chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, severe fatigue, or wheezing.  Wildfire smoke may make these symptoms worse in people who have respiratory allergies, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure, or angina. Contact your doctor if you are experiencing a worsening in your symptoms.

When air quality is poor, all residents (especially older adults, children, and those with heart or lung disease) are encouraged to follow these guidelines to prevent illness:
  1. Limit prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.
  2. Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Do not smoke. Avoid vacuuming unless there is a HEPA filter vacuum or central vacuum system. Do not use air purifying ozone generators.
  3. Have a several-day supply of nonperishable groceries. Avoid cooking with gas, wood, or propane stoves if possible.
  4. Pay attention to local air quality reports; check newspaper and web site reports (www.ncair.org).
  5. If possible, replace the air filter for your HVAC system with a pleated medium- or high-efficiency particle filter (rated MERV 8 or higher) to help filter out smoke and particulates.
  6. Use wet wipes or a damp mop to remove visible particles inside your home.
People with asthma or another lung condition should follow their doctor’s advice about medications and their respiratory management plan. A respiratory management plan involves tracking symptoms to determine when to use additional medications or seek medical treatment. These symptoms may include difficulty in breathing normally; cough with or without mucus; chest discomfort; and wheezing and shortness of breath.
Dr. Kevin Wolfe, Pulmonologist with Appalachian Regional Internal Medicine Specialists, recommends the following:
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Run a humidifier in your home or business
  • Take care of pets; bring them indoors if possible
  • Make sure you have an adequate supply of medications
SOME PEOPLE ARE MORE SUSCEPTIBLE THAN OTHERS:
Most healthy adults and children will not experience ill effects from smoke exposure. Certain sensitive populations may experience more symptoms from smoke exposure. Sensitive populations may include:
  • Individuals with asthma or other respiratory disease
  • Individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Individuals with airway hyper responsiveness
  • Individuals with cardiovascular disease
  • The elderly
  • Children
  • Pregnant women
  • Smokers
WHEN SMOKE IS PRESENT TO THE POINT OF LIMITING VISIBILITY:
  • Pay attention to local weather and news reports.
  • Try to stay inside with windows and doors shut.
  • Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.
  • Limit physical exertion outdoors.
  • Asthmatics should follow their asthma management plan.
  • Keep at least a five-day supply of medication on hand.
  • Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or severe fatigue.
  • Keep airways moist by drinking lots of water.
Source:Ammann,H.,Blaisdell,R.,Lipsett,M.,Stone, S.,&Therriault,S.(2001).Wildfiresmoke:aguideforpublichealthofficials.Seattle,WA:Universityof Washington. And Dare County Department of Public Health.

For more information on protecting yourself from wildfire smoke exposure visit: http://www.cdc.gov/features/wildfires/
For additional information about AppHealthCare or other community resources and health related data, please call our offices, (828) 264-4995 or visit our website at www.apphealthcare.com.
For more information about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, visit www.apprhs.org.

High Country Family Weekend Events February 6 – 8, 2015

What is happening this weekend in the High Country for families? It is going to be a warm weekend, so you may want to escape from cabin fever and enjoy the outdoors. Check out exciting and fun-filled family events below. We wish you all a wonderful weekend!

February 6:

1. Free Sledding at Beech Mountain – This sledding hill attracts people from all over the Southeast. We are lucky to have it in our backyard for free of charge for children 12 and under. Adults are allowed to sled with their small children. The hill is situated right beside the Beech Mountain Chamber of Commerce.

2. Open Play Time at The Children’s Playhouse – Come spend quality family time exploring our art activities, pretend vet clinic, climbing wall, dress-up area, ball pit and more! $5 per person admission or buy a membership for the whole family for $100 per year. Open play hours are 10-5 Tuesday-Fridays and 10-3:00 on Saturdays.

3. Family Movie Showings:
Regal Cinemas in Boone
 Now showing: Paddington and The SpongeBob Movie

4. Midnight Blast at Appalachian Ski Mountain – The region’s only late-night skiing and snowboarding! The slopes will be open continuously from 5pm – 12 Midnight.

February 7:

1. Free Sledding at Beech Mountain and Snowman Building Contest – This sledding hill attracts people from all over the Southeast. We are lucky to have it in our backyard for free of charge for children 12 and under. Adults are allowed to sled with their small children. The hill is situated right beside the Beech Mountain Chamber of Commerce. Children and families will enjoy creating snowmen on the Beech Mountain Town Sledding Hill on Saturday, February 7th from 10am-noon. Bring your own accessories to decorate your snowman. Prizes will be awarded.

2. Heart Shape 2015

heartShape2015

Don’t Skip a Beat… Join Appalachian Regional Healthcare for the 3rd annual Heart Shape event on Saturday, February 7, 2015 from 8:00 am – 12:45 pm at the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center. Over 100 people attended last year’s event and learned about heart health and the cardiology services available through ARHS in the High Country. Attention Families! Interactive Ameriheart® Exhibitheart-exhibit. This is a 13 feet long, 16 feet wide and 12 feet high anatomically correct heart for participants to investigate how the heart functions. The large interactive heart will serve as a compelling attraction that will provide heart health education to guests of all ages.

3. Open Play Time at The Children’s Playhouse – Come spend quality family time exploring our art activities, pretend vet clinic, climbing wall, dress-up area, ball pit and more! $5 per person admission or buy a membership for the whole family for $100 per year. Open play hours are 10-5 Tuesday-Fridays and 10-3:00 on Saturdays.

4. String Heart Art at Michael’s: 10am – 12pm Drop in. Drop in. Take home a completed project. Just $2 per child for 30 minutes of creative craft fun. Ages 3 and up

Michael's String Art

 

5. App State Fiddler’s Convention – 10:00am – 5:00pm: The ASU Old-Time Fiddlers Convention is held on the campus of Appalachian State University and is 100% student operated. This unique three-day event draws over 400 attendees from nine states and celebrates the rich musical and cultural history of the Appalachian region. Events include; concerts, instructional workshops, music competitions, a gathering of luthiers, as well as a handmade market featuring crafters from across the region.

6. Family Movie Showings:
Regal Cinemas in Boone Now showing: Paddington and The SpongeBob Movie 

7. Bonfires at Chetola – Enjoy some outdoor fun with your friends at the new fire pit by Chetola Lake at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock. Bonfires are scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. every Saturday evening, weather permitting. Kids can purchase $5 s’mores kits and roast their marshmallows over the open fire. The event also features an outdoor cash bar and live music. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola at (828) 295-5505, or visit www.chetola.com.

8. Midnight Blast at Appalachian Ski Mountain – The region’s only late-night skiing and snowboarding! The slopes will be open continuously from 5pm – 12 Midnight.

February 8:

1. Free Sledding at Beech Mountain – This sledding hill attracts people from all over the Southeast. We are lucky to have it in our backyard for free of charge for children 12 and under. Adults are allowed to sled with their small children. The hill is situated right beside the Beech Mountain Chamber of Commerce.

2. Family Movie Showings:
Regal Cinemas in Boone Now showing: Paddington and The SpongeBob Movie

3. “Folk Toys” at Elk Knob State Park  – 2:00pm: Stop by the office and visit with a ranger as he shares a few folk toys from Appalachia. Participants will be challenged to operate each toy successfully. Children are encouraged to attend this short program. For more information or for travel conditions to and within the park, please call 828-297-7261.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare Hosts Heart Shape 2015

heartShape2015

Saturday, February 7, 2015
8:00 am – 1:00 pm
Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center
232 Boone Heights Drive (Google Maps)
Boone, NC 28607
(828) 266 – 1060

Free Event

Event Details

Don’t Skip a Beat… Join us for the 3rd annual Heart Shape event on Saturday, February 7, 2015 from 8:00 am – 12:45 pm at the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center. Over 100 people attended last year’s event and learned about heart health and the cardiology services available through ARHS in the High Country.

The 2015 Heart Shape Schedule:

Health Fair 8:00 am – 11:00 am
Health Screenings 8:00 am – 11:00 am
Ameriheart® Exhibit 8:00 am – 12:45 pm
Wellness Center Tours 8:00 am – 12:45 pm
Wellness Center Classes
Health Talks 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Health Cooking Demo 12:15 pm – 12:45 pm

Attention Families! Interactive Ameriheart® Exhibitheart-exhibit

Ameriheart® Exhibit is a 13 feet long, 16 feet wide and 12 feet high anatomically correct heart for participants to investigate how the heart functions. The large interactive heart will serve as a compelling attraction that will provide heart health education to guests of all ages.

Workout Classes

During the event, the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center will provide tours of the facility and will open four classes to the public. Bring your workout clothes and join us for a morning of fitness classes.

Spin Class 9:15 am – 10:15 am
Zumba 9:15 am – 10:15 am
Stretch & Flex 10:15 am – 11:00 am
Yoga 10:15 am – 11:15 am
Water Fitness 10:15 am – 11:15 am

Urgent Care Vs. Emergency Room: Making the Decision

AppUrgent_frontHow do you know which facility to go to? We are grateful for our sponsor AppUrgent Care Center to help bring to light the differences and the type of services each facility provides.  The High Country is fortunate to have emergency services and urgent care services.

Most importantly, if there’s any doubt, call your primary care physician to ask which is the best place to go for your illness or injury.

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.

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

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

Free Skin Cancer Screening at Boone Dermatology

Do you have a spot on your skin that you have been worried about? You do not have to be worried anymore. Boone Dermatology and Appalachian Regional Healthcare System are holding a free skin cancer screening on May 9, 2014 between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm at Boone Dermatology.

boonedermatology

The screenings are done on a first come, first serve basis… no appointment necessary. The physicians and staff of Boone Dermatology will provide a full body check or spot check suspicious areas.