To comply with federal and state regulations, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) requires masking by all employees, volunteers, patients and visitors in all facilities, regardless of vaccination status. For the continued safety of our patients and visitors, all employees, visitors and contractors should continue to mask when in hallways, public spaces, and patient care areas.
Covid positive cases and hospitalizations have risen in the High Country and face coverings have been proven to slow the spread of the disease, including the Delta variant, which we are seeing in our community according to AppHealthCare (Health Department).
Protect yourself with the COVID-19 vaccine
Vaccines are readily available throughout the community. ARHS has Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines available. Adults age 18 and older are welcome to request an appointment online or walk into one of the following clinic times. Scheduling an appointment is preferred.
Emergency Department Nurses practice COVID-19 precautions
ALL patients and visitors for Watauga Medical Center and Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center will now enter through Medical Center Drive. Cancer Center traffic will continue straight and around to the building. Hospital traffic will turn left into the first parking lot. Thank you for your patience and understanding during our growth.
Update: May 26, 2021
Beginning June 1, Mary Street will close and the new Medical Center Drive will open. All Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center patients and ambulances should enter from Medical Center Drive. There will be no public access to the hospital from the Medical Center Drive entrance or from the Cancer Center lot.
Watauga Medical Center patients and visitors should continue to enter through the main entrance on Deerfield Road.
The week of June 7-11, the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center parking lot will be closed due to construction. Patients will be notified of the new parking location and shuttles will be available directly to the door of the Cancer Center.
Original article: March 3, 2021
In preparation for a new hospital patient bed tower, Watauga Medical Center will experience changes to the entrances, exits and parking lots over the next few months. Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) announced that construction on the new patient bed tower began this week.
“The expansion project represents a $100 million investment in the health of Watauga County,” said Rob Hudspeth, SVP of System Advancement for ARHS. “The first phase – a new Heart and Vascular Center – was completed in August of 2020. Phase two, in progress, includes construction of the new central energy plant. Phase three calls for construction of a new medical bed tower, which we are excited to start this March.”
Traffic and Parking Changes
Beginning March 11th, traffic into Watauga Medical Center, including the Emergency Department, will flow one way (two lanes) into the main parking lot entrance closest to the hospital. Leaving the hospital, drivers should exit to Deerfield Road through the parking lot’s side exit. Signage will be posted.
All Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center patients and ambulances should enter from Mary Street and park in the existing parking spaces. There will be no public access to the hospital from the Mary Street entrance or from the Cancer Center lot.
Patient and Visitor Entrance Changes
Hospital patients and visitors, including Emergency Department walk-ins, should enter the building through the temporary main front entrance doors close to the newly constructed canopy and walkway beside the Heart & Vascular Center.
The usual Emergency Department entrance patients and visitors have been using for the past year will be closed on March 10th.
ARHS is attempting to limit the inconvenience for the community while proceeding with these much-needed improvements and additions to the hospital facility.
Most people will get the same Medicaid services in a new way – through health plans. You will be able to choose the health plan that is best for you. You will also choose a primary care provider (PCP).
North Carolina’s Medicaid program changed to Medicaid Managed Care on July 1, 2021. This means that most Medicaid beneficiaries will receive their benefits through health plans (similar to private insurance) for the first time instead of directly from the state. A health plan provides a network of doctors, hospitals, and other providers who work together to provide the care you need.
Most Medicare recipients will have to enroll in a specific plan in order to receive their benefits. You should have received information from Medicare about enrolling in a plan in March of 2021. If you did not enroll in a plan by May 21, 2021, you were automatically enrolled in one.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) will be “in-network” for the AmeriHealth plan, and possibly others. All health plans offer the same basic Medicaid services. Each health plan has its own network of providers. You can sign up for a new plan and select a new primary care provider that is “in-network” for ARHS, or for any reason, within 90 days of your initial enrollment date or until September 30.
What you need to do
Choose a primary care provider (PCP): To keep your doctor, clinic or other health care provider as your PCP, find out which health plans they work with. You can also choose a new PCP.
Choose a health plan: A health plan is a group of doctors, hospitals and other providers. They work together to give you the health care you need. ARHS will be in-network with AmeriHealth. Learn more: ncmedicaidplans.gov/find/viewhealthplans
Masks are still required inside ARHS patient care areas
We know that many of our patients are happy to see a decline in COVID-19 infections in our community and were excited to hear the CDC’s recent mask updates. However, the new CDC guidance states that certain settings would still require masks and other safety measures.
Everyone, including individuals who are fully vaccinated, are still required to wear a mask in healthcare settings such as hospitals and doctor’s offices. As ARHS continues to follow CDC guidelines, all patients and visitors are required to wear a face mask over the mouth and nose, during their visit to any of our facilities.
General COVID-19 Visitor Guidelines
At Hospitals, Outpatient Offices and other ARHS Locations, visitors must:
Wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth at all times (except while eating in select areas).
Have a health screening check when they enter the building.
Be at least 18 years old.
Be in good health (free from respiratory illness, fever, cough, etc.).
Stay in the patient room visiting the patient, they cannot roam the hospital.
Follow all social distancing and safety guidance. This includes wearing masks, staying six feet from others and hand washing.
If a visitor does not follow the guidance above, it can cause serious safety concerns. They will be escorted out of the building in order to keep our patients and staff safe.
Special circumstances will be managed by the House Supervisor or Practice Manager.
Visitors may NOT enter If they have COVID-19 or are waiting on COVID-19 test results.
Watauga Medical Center & Cannon Memorial Hospital
Visiting hours are 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Two (2) visitors will be allowed for adult patients at any given time. Each room will have two visitor badges, which must be worn by visitors at all times. Visitors may change throughout the day and may leave the facility and return during the same day. If both badges are checked out from a room, additional visitors may not enter.
Patients having surgery may have one (1) visitor with them until they are in their patient room, even if they arrive before 7:00 a.m. Once they are in their patient room, they may have up to two (2) visitors from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Patients under 18 may have two (2) parents or guardians visit any time of day, however these visitors may not change and must remain the same throughout hospitalization. This is to minimize any risks to newborns and to allow for rapid tracking should a COVID infection occur.
WMC Birthing Center
Laboring patients may have two (2) designated visitors, which may not change and must remain the same throughout hospitalization. After the birth of the baby, only one (1) designated overnight visitor may stay. The second visitor may return at 7:00 am and must leave by 8:00 pm. A doula will be considered the second visitor.
Emergency Departments patients are allowed one (1) visitor any time of day, unless otherwise approved by the clinical team. Two (2) parents or guardians are allowed if patients are under 18. Visitors must wear a badge with the room number identified.
If the Emergency Department is busy, visitors will not be allowed in waiting rooms. Visitors will have to remain outside the Emergency Department (in their vehicle) until the patient is placed in a room.
Exceptions will be managed by the ED Charge Nurse.
Inpatient Behavioral Health
Visiting hours are 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. One (1) visitor will be allowed for a period of 30 minutes, by appointment only. Potential visitors should call (828) 737-7000 to schedule an appointment.
Medical Practices/Doctor’s Offices
One (1) visitor will be allowed to come to doctor visits with adult patients. Two (2) parents or guardians are allowed to come to visits if patients are under 18.
For special situations, the Provider will work with the office manager to find the best solution for the patient.
Patients and/or Visitors may be asked or choose to wait in their vehicles and be called on their cell phones when a room is ready if space is limited or they do not wish to wait in the public area.
End of Life Situations
Patients with COVID-19 (End-of-Life Situations)
One (1) visitor is allowed during end-of-life situations. Otherwise, visitors are not allowed.
Visitors must wear a gown, gloves and a surgical mask.
Physician and House Supervisor will determine what is considered “end of life”
Non-COVID-19 Patients (End-of-Life Situations)
Up to four (4) visitors are allowed at a time, and visitors may switch out during the day.
Many things come to mind when the names Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer are spoken – savvy business acumen, dedication to their faith community, as well as support for the arts, women’s causes, animal welfare, higher education and more. Especially in the High Country, the Schaefer family name evokes gratitude for the incredible philanthropy, support and wisdom they give to their community.
The Schaefers have been great friends to Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) throughout the years. They both recently experienced significant health challenges and turned to ARHS to walk with them through their journey of healing.
For a total of 70 days and nights over the last two years, Bonnie and Jamie considered the hospitalists, doctors and nurses at Watauga Medical Center to be their extended family, describing them as “our angels with invisible wings who provided comfort and care on a daily basis.”
While the Schaefers have the means and opportunity to seek healthcare from anywhere in the world, they trusted Appalachian Regional Healthcare System with life-saving medical care, chronic disease management, surgical services, emergency care, intensive care — as well as several other service lines and specialists. Fortunately, they are both on the road to good health and they only return to the hospital for routine care these days.
But while they were in the hospital, they realized that the world-class healthcare they received from the people of Watauga Medical Center didn’t necessarily match the aging physical building.
Left to Right: Steve Weishoff, Jamie and Bonnie Schaefer, Marla Schaefer
“They say people make a place and it’s a good thing, because the core hospital, built in 1967, is dated, in disrepair and in need of improvement,” said Bonnie.
“Watauga Medical Center offers life-saving medical care to those living in the High Country,” said Jamie. “The patients and healthcare professionals need and deserve a new, state-of-the-art hospital.”
The couple recently returned to the hospital – their “home away from home” – to thank the hospital family, including doctors, nurses, dietary staff, lab technicians, cleaning staff, and the chaplain.
And in a tradition as long-standing as the Schaefer family itself, they are taking steps to ensure that everyone continues to receive the same high standard of care they did – for generations to come – in a brand new, modern patient care tower.
Bonnie and Jamie are joining together with their family, Marla Schaefer and Steve Weishoff, to give a three-million-dollar gift for the future Schaefer Family Patient Care Tower at Watauga Medical Center.
“I would like to thank Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer, Marla Schaefer and Steve Weishoff for their generosity in providing the lead gift for a new 48-bed hospital tower,” said Rob Hudspeth, President of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation and Sr. Vice President for System Advancement for ARHS. “This historic investment will fuel the future of healthcare in the High Country, ensure access to continued technological improvements and allow us to reimagine our community hospital to address the ever-changing world of healthcare.
Watauga Medical Center announced today that Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center (the Cancer Center) has implemented Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) to treat cancerous tumors. Typically only available at larger centers, SBRT is an advanced technique that precisely targets a high dose of radiation directly to cancer cells.
When a tumor is located in the torso, the patient’s breathing causes it to move, making it difficult to precisely target with traditional radiation therapy.
Radiation oncologists at the Cancer Center use 4D imaging technology to determine the exact size, shape and location of the patient’s tumor and to map where the tumor moves throughout the breathing cycle. Using this “roadmap,” SBRT radiation is delivered to the tumor with pinpoint accuracy, while simultaneously avoiding damage to the patient’s surrounding healthy tissues.
SBRT involves the entire treatment team. A radiation therapist, physicist, and doctor are all present during sessions to monitor the patient, making sure the tumor doesn’t move outside the treatment area during breathing.
“Traditional radiation therapy is delivered daily in small doses for six to eight weeks, and can delay additional treatment therapies,” said Ken Neuvirth, Senior Director of Oncology for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. “SBRT allows us to treat patients in fewer sessions which leads to fewer side effects and better outcomes.”
Small metastatic tumors or early stage primary cancers are the best candidates for this therapy. For example, a patient in the ARHS lung cancer screening program who discovers their cancer in stage one or two might choose this treatment over surgery. For cancer patients who cannot undergo surgery, SBRT offers a safe and effective option.
Having SBRT technology in Boone means that more patients will be able to receive the cancer treatment they need closer to home. They will not have to make expensive housing arrangements in a larger city while they complete their treatment, and they can be surrounded by family, churches, or other support systems.
The Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center first received the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer® Accreditation in 1997 and reaccredited in 2019.