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Advanced radiation therapy technique implemented at Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center

Advanced radiation therapy technique implemented at Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center

Photo: SBRT Machine

May 5, 2021

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.

Photo: Monitoring patient during SBRTSBRT 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.

Learn more about Watauga Medical Center’s cancer services at apprhs.org/cancer/.

Learn more about the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center at apprhs.org/cancercenter/.

ARHS provides real-time  notifications for community providers through PatientPing

ARHS provides real-time notifications for community providers through PatientPing

April 30, 2021

Patient Ping NotificationsPatientPing is a care collaboration software that provides real-time visibility into patient care events across the continuum. Working with hospitals, post-acutes, health plans, ACO’s and beyond, the platform connects providers across the nation to improve patient and organizational outcomes.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) has partnered with PatientPing to provide real-time e-notifications upon patient admit, discharge, and transfer events at to community providers in accordance with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements  (e-notifications CoP). Community providers will be able access event notifications from ARHS in two different ways:

PingDirect
Notifications will be sent to PCPs and other providers identified by the patient and recorded in their patient record during a hospital encounter via Direct Messages, a national encryption standard for secure clinical data exchange. Providers will have the option to unsubscribe from receiving Direct Messages via a link in the e-notification if they wish.

PingPortal
Primary care entities, PACs, and other providers can also proactively request and receive notifications on their attributed patients at no cost by submitting a patient roster either directly or through a PAC EHR integration. Providers will be able to select from flexible notification delivery options to suit their workflows including web application, SMS/email push alerts, and data downloads.

To sign up for event notifications for their patients, providers may register with Patient Ping. Once you have submitted your information, a PatientPing representative will contact you directly to assist you in enabling real-time, e-notifications from ARHS.

Community providers can always access the PatientPing registration on the “Referring a Patient” web page at apprhs.org/refer. 

Updated ARHS COVID-19 Visitor Guidelines

Updated ARHS COVID-19 Visitor Guidelines

Updated: April 23, 2021

General COVID-19 Visitor Guidelines

 

At Hospitals, Doctors 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.

Patients will not be allowed visitors

  • In the Behavioral Health Unit.
  • If they have COVID-19 or might have COVID-19 (being tested) at any location

Exception: Patients under 18 will be allowed two (2) parents or guardian visitation in some of these situations.

 

Cannon Memorial Hospital

 

Two (2) visitors will be allowed for adult patients. Two (2) parents or guardians may visit patients under 18 years of age.

  • Visitation times are daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visitors may switch during the same day. If a visitor leaves, they cannot return until 7 a.m. the following day.
  • Patients having surgery may have one (1) visitor with them until they are in their patient room, even if they arrive before 7 a.m. Once they are in their patient room, they may have up to two (2) visitors from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Patients under 18 may have two (2) parents or guardians visit any time of day.

 

Watauga Medical Center

 

Two (2) visitors will be allowed for adult patients,  however only one in a room at a time. If the visitors are changing they will be permitted 10 minutes to exchange (both will be allowed in the room for up to 10 minutes). Two (2) parents or guardians may visit patients under 18 years of age at the same time.

  • Visitation times for hospitals are daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visitors may switch during the same day. If a visitor leaves, they cannot return until 7 a.m. the following day.
  • Patients having surgery may have one (1) visitor with them until they are in their patient room, even if they arrive before 7 a.m.
  • Patients under 18 may have two (2) parents or guardians visit any time of day.

 

WMC Birthing Center

 

Laboring patients may have two (2) designated visitors. 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 7:00 pm. A doula will be considered the second visitor. Learn more about Birthing Center visitor guidelines >

 

Emergency Departments

 

Emergency Departments patients are allowed one (1) visitor any time of day. Two (2) parents or guardians are allowed if patients are under 18

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.

 

Medical Practices/Doctor’s Offices

 

One (1) visitor will be allowed to come to doctor’s visits with adult patients. Two (2) parents or guardians are allowed to come to visits if patients are under 18.

  • For special situations, the doctor will work with the office manager to find the best solution for the patient.
  • 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 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.
  • The visitation time limit is 60 minutes.
  • 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.
  • Visitors must wear a surgical mask.
  • There are no visitation time limits.
Photo Gallery: Our COVID-19 Journey

Photo Gallery: Our COVID-19 Journey

Image: Thank You Healthcare TeamTaking care of patients
Keeping our facilities clean
Providing COVID testing
Offering Telehealth appointments
Getting vaccinated
Vaccinating the community

We make life better for our community!

Click any photo to view the slideshow

 

Watauga Medical Center announces entrance and parking changes

Watauga Medical Center announces entrance and parking changes

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 ChangesPatient Parking Map

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.

Watauga County Schools teachers and staff receive COVID-19 vaccine at mass clinic in Boone

Watauga County Schools teachers and staff receive COVID-19 vaccine at mass clinic in Boone

Dr. Scott and Laura Elliot

Dr. Scott Elliott, Watauga County Schools Superintendent, received his vaccine along with his wife Laura, a middle school teacher at Parkway School. Linda Campbell, CRNA administers the shot.

 

A collective sigh of relief was heard among Watauga County’s teachers and public school employees as they received their first COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday, February 24 at the Watauga Community Recreation Center.

Earlier this month, Governor Roy Cooper announced that childcare workers and pre-K to 12th grade school employees would be eligible for the vaccine under Group 3 of the state’s phased rollout process.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), AppHealthCare (Appalachian District Health Department) , and Watauga County Schools immediately started working together to determine how to vaccinate the remainder of registered seniors and move on to school staff.

Sean Burroughs, Director of Pharmacy for ARHS said, “I’m so pleased with the progress of our community’s vaccine roll out to the senior population, and thrilled to be able to vaccinate K-12 Watauga school employees and childcare workers this week.”

ARHS and AppHealthCare were able to vaccinate nearly 600 childcare and school employees in a single day, due to the spacious and easy-to-access location at the Recreation Center. Those who didn’t receive their shot this week will be eligible to sign up for future clinics through ARHS or AppHealthCare.

“It’s incredibly exciting to know that we’ve made it this far, and that we are able to provide this level of protection for our teachers and staff,” said Dr. Scott Elliott, Watauga County Schools Superintendent, who received his vaccine along with his wife Laura, a middle school teacher at Parkway School.

“I cannot thank ARHS and AppHealthCare enough for their great partnership, their advocacy for our educators, and for making this so easy,” Elliott continued. “With every educator who is vaccinated we add another layer of protection for our entire community. Suddenly it feels like we’re beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Lauren Collier and son, John

Parkway teacher Lauren Collier is vaccinated by Lance Campbell, CRNA, while son, John, documents the occasion.

Photo: Traci Hartley- Valle Crucis

Traci Hartley, Data Manager at Valle Crucis is vaccinated by Michelle Dollar, RN, BSN, of ARHS.

Parkway School teacher Lauren Collier came to the clinic with her son, John, in tow. “I feel great!” she said. “It feels great knowing that I am doing everything I can to help us as a community move through this pandemic. Knowing that this step will keep my son and family, my colleagues, and my students safe is important. I am blessed for this opportunity.”

Traci Hartley, Data Manager at Valle Crucis said, “I am so grateful and excited for this opportunity. I was shocked that it’s happening so fast. I have two very high-risk family members that we protect.” Hartley’s husband is a cancer survivor and her daughter has Cystic Fibrosis.

Scott Carter, Principal at Cove Creek school was vaccinated with his wife, also a Watauga County Schools employee. “I am excited to protect our teachers and to bring kids back safely to our schools,” he said. “We have missed them terribly. I’m also very ready to see my great grandmother who lives in a nursing home.
Hardin Park teacher Corrie Freeman said she was feeling hopeful. “This is an avenue back to normal for my kids, me and our community. I feel like I can take a deep breath. I just appreciate all the volunteers, ARHS and AppHealthCare for being here today and helping us do this together. This whole operation is very impressive.”

School nurses Ashley Greene (Parkway) and Amanda Combs (Cove Creek) were on site, along with the county’s other school nurses, helping to give vaccinations. Both were honored to be a part of the effort. “It’s amazing to be here and to witness teachers being vaccinated in addition to kids coming back to our schools. It’s a comfort – we are going to be ok!” Combs said.

School employees across the state proudly posted their vaccine photos on social media using the hashtag #sleevesup4students.

Adults age 65 and older continue to be eligible for vaccine appointments, as well as remaining childcare workers and pre-K through 12th grade school employees. According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services, on March 10 North Carolina plans to move to additional frontline essential workers who work in-person at their place of work.

Photo: Nurse Amanda and Ms. Laurie Warren- Librarian- Cove Creek

School Nurse Amanda Combs vaccinates Laurie Warren, media specialist at Cove Creek.

Photo: Scott Carter, Principal at Cove Creek school

Scott Carter, Principal at Cove Creek School was vaccinated by Helene Harper, MD, while Carter’s daughter held his hand.

For more information about receiving a vaccine visit the following websites:

Watauga and Avery Counties
apprhs.org/vaccine

Watauga, Ashe, and Alleghany Counties
apphealthcare.com/covid-19-vaccinations/

Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey Counties
toeriverhealth.org/