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ARHS thanks local businesses and organizations for outpouring of support

ARHS thanks local businesses and organizations for outpouring of support

Coretta Scott King once said, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” If her theory is correct, then the High Country community is among the greatest.

Like the rest of America’s healthcare systems, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges and unimaginable scenarios for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS). While ARHS healthcare professionals worked the front line, local businesses, organizations and individuals immediately stepped up to help.

CMH Emergency Parade

Avery County Emergency Services Parade at Cannon Memorial Hospital


Supply DonationThey donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as N-95 masks, face shields, hand-sewn face coverings, hand sanitizer, and protective suits. They dropped off food, treats and special meals for employees. They offered special discounts or perks to ARHS employees, such as free soft drinks at their establishments. The Watauga and Avery County first responders and emergency personnel even paraded by Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital in a show of solidarity and support.

The healthcare team at ARHS has always stood ready to take care of the community. But it was profoundly touching when the community repeatedly came forward to help take care of them. For that support, the more than 1400 ARHS employees are forever grateful. It serves as a reminder that everyone is in this together, and ARHS is fortunate to be part of a community that feels that – and acts upon it.

The Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation and Employee Assistance Program worked with the following generous businesses, organizations and individuals who have shown support through donations of supplies and food. Everyone at ARHS would like to say a hearty “THANK YOU.”

Girl Scout DonationThe pandemic is not over yet. But one thing is certain: the High Country community will continue to come together as one in times of trial.

  • App State Athletics
  • ASU Beaver College of Health Sciences – Nursing Department
  • ASU Chemistry Department
  • Art of Oil
  • Avery High School
  • Chris Barley
  • BB&T
  • Blue Ridge Energies
  • Bistro Roca
  • Boone Drug
  • Boone Girl Scout Troop 13115
  • Boone Paint
  • Bridgeman Dentistry
  • Call Family Distillers
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Clean Eatz
  • College Foundation of North Carolina
  • Cranberry Middle School
  • Creative Printing and Internet Services
  • Daniel Boone Inn
  • Frontier Natural Gas
  • Ashley Hampton
  • Adam Hill, DDS
  • Hope Pregnancy Center
  • Hospitality Mints
  • IND-Concepts
  • Insomnia Cookies
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken
  • Mast General Store
  • Mayland Community College
  • Edna McKinney
  • Mark Muhaw
  • Moltox
  • NC Department of Transportation
  • Precision Printing
  • Premier Sotheby’s International Realty – Banner Elk
  • Promo Savvy
  • Publix
  • Ransom Pub
  • Kelly Rucker
  • Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church
  • Valerie Rush and Team
  • Samaritan’s Purse
  • Nicole Scheffler, DDS
  • Sherwin Williams
  • Spangler Restoration
  • Wal-Mart
  • Wilkes Community College
  • Countless individuals who made and donated masks
  • Many businesses who offered us special discounts or free drinks.




The Rehabilitation Center in Boone receives donation for breast cancer treatment

The Rehabilitation Center in Boone receives donation for breast cancer treatment

Low Level Laser donation

Left to Right: Emily Roberts, Irene Sawyer (HCBCF), Michelle Forrest, Terri Brown (HCBCF), Alicia Debord


November 18, 2020

The Rehabilitation Center, the outpatient physical and occupational therapy arm of Watauga Medical Center, received a donation of a Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) device from the High Country Breast Cancer Foundation last week. The American Food and Drug Administration has cleared this device – the Riancorp LTU-904 laser therapy unit – as a tool to be used in the treatment of postmastectomy lymphedema. The Rehabilitation Center has three Therapists and one Therapist Assistant with specialty training and certification in the evaluation and treatment of lymphedema.

Founded in 2017 by breast cancer survivor Irene Sawyer, the mission of the High Country Breast Cancer Foundation is to support breast cancer patients, survivors, and their families in the High Country of North Carolina. All of the funds raised by the HCBCF go to helping local patients.

“We are honored to be able to provide this device to The Rehabilitation Center,” said Sawyer. “It gives the High Country Breast Cancer Foundation a chance to show the community how their donations are being used to improve the lives of our community members impacted by breast cancer.”


What is postmastectomy lymphedema?


During breast cancer surgery (mastectomy or lumpectomy), some of the lymph nodes in the underarm may be removed and checked to see if they contain cancer cells. When lymph nodes are removed from the underarm area during breast surgery or treated with radiation therapy, lymphatic vessels can become blocked or compromised, preventing lymph fluid from circulating out of the area. Lymphedema occurs when this fluid collects in the arm, underarm, chest, breast or back, causing swelling, pain, and other problems. The body’s natural process of scarring at the surgical incision lines and from radiation further increases the risk of lymphedema. This condition may occur directly after surgery and oncology treatment course, or months later.

According to The Rehabilitation Center’s certified lymphedema therapist Michelle Forrest, the percentage of lymphedema occurrence following mastectomy and lymph node removal varies depending on the source, however the average is between 20-50%.

The risk increases with the number of nodes surgically removed, however the good news is that there are preventive strategies and therapies available that can reduce occurrence.


How does postmastectomy lymphedema impact a breast cancer survivor’s life?


Lymphedema impacts a survivor’s life in many ways:

  • Having a heavier limb can cause pain and physical discomfort.
  • Clothing can be too tight on the affected arm.
  • The affected arm may have range of motion limitations from scarring and decreased flexibility if the lymphedema is not treated.
  • There is also risk of skin breakdown and a higher risk of infections if left untreated.


How does LLLT improve the lives of cancer Survivors?


“With use of this Low Level Laser device, we will be able to shorten recovery time, reduce painful scarring, increase range of motion of the affected side, and soften hardened tissue at the mastectomy site,” said Forrest. “This will allow the patient to return to work, childcare, full movement of the affected side and experience return to normal sensation.”

Forrest continued, “As a Lymphedema Therapist, it is amazing to help a breast cancer patient take control of yet another aspect of their life that was afflicted during their journey.”  With use of the Low Level Laser in conjunction with manual therapy techniques, each survivor will have an opportunity to return to full arm function and flexibility. The risk of further scarring and pain is greatly reduced over time so they may return to gardening, sports, swimming, pottery, playing with grandchildren and all of the other joys in life.

For information regarding a Lymphedema Consultation (pre or post-surgery) or information on treatment with this device – please contact Michelle Forrest, OTD, CLT-LANA, at The Rehabilitation Center, (828) 268-9043, or request an appointment online at

Take the quiz: Am I at risk for type 2 diabetes?

Take the quiz: Am I at risk for type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes AwarenessAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of Americans are unaware that they have prediabetes or diabetes. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US. If unmanaged, it can cause life-altering symptoms such as blindness, limb amputations, and kidney failure.

The good news is that you CAN take steps to prevent T2 or manage your diabetes with healthy lifestyle changes.

Click here to take the quiz and find out if you are at risk.  


We can help you avoid or manage Type 2 Diabetes

The Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center offers a diabetes prevention program and a diabetes management program. For more information, call the Wellness Center at (828) 266-1060.


Prevent T2 & Weight Loss

Prevent T2 is a CDC-recognized diabetes prevention program based upon proven strategies to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. The format of the class allows you to interact with your instructor and classmates. You’ll be able to work through challenges together as a group and celebrate each other’s successes.

Learn more about the Prevent T 2 Program >


Diabetes Self-Management

For patients with T1 or T2, gestational diabetes or glucose intolerance, this three-month diabetes program includes an individual assessment, group educational classes, a follow-up via phone and/or in-person with our diabetes educator (CDE), and a follow-up with the participant’s physician.

Learn more about the Diabetes Self-Management Program >


What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Approximately 84 million American adults—more than 1 out of 3—have prediabetes. Of those with prediabetes, 90% don’t know they have it. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.



What is Type 2 Diabetes (T2)?

Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that affects how your body turns food into energy.

Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream. Your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin, which acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.

If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream, which over time can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.


Learn more about diabetes at

Appalachian Regional Rheumatology now open

Appalachian Regional Rheumatology now open

Photo: Appalachian Regional Rheumatology

November 2, 2020

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is excited to announce that rheumatology services have moved to a new location.

Previously located within Appalachian Regional Internal Medicine Specialists at Boone Pointe, Dr. James Logan relocated to 2146 Blowing Rock Road in Boone. The new location, Appalachian Regional Rheumatology, is open Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 5 pm and Friday 8 am – 12 pm.

Rheumatology services focus on diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases including arthritis, autoimmune diseases and osteoporosis.

For more information, please call at 828-386-2300 or visit

ARHS Latino Health Program delivers food to High Country families

ARHS Latino Health Program delivers food to High Country families

Dinora Hernandez - Latino Health Program

Dinora Hernandez, with boxes of food bound for Watauga County’s Latino population

October 23, 2020

Imagine seeking medical care and not being able to understand what your provider is telling you. Many of our High Country community members experience this scenario each day. Even with an understanding of English as a second language, medical terms and concepts can be difficult to grasp in a non-native tongue.

Dinora Hernandez is the medical interpreter and coordinator of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s Latino Health Program (LHP). She has been working with our local Latino population for over five years and has become a crucial link in the chain between healthcare and the Spanish-speaking community.

The Latino Health Program’s main focus is to reach out to our Hispanic Community in Watauga and Avery counties to provide services such as interpreting during medical appointments, assisting with financial assistance documents, securing appropriate medication, coordinating appointments, and providing transportation to clients who are in need of this service.

The goal of the program is to educate the Latino population in reference to their chronic conditions and to use preventative measures to support healthy lifestyles. Although most people see Dinora during her role as interpreter she also helps provide patients with medications, financial assistance, and even food.

LHP is distributing food to its clients as part of a unique partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA will provide Watauga County LHP clients with boxes of food containing meat, vegetables, and dairy products for the next few weeks. LHP delivered 40 of these food boxes on October 8, and 40 additional boxes on October 15.

“This couldn’t have happened at a better time because many LHP clients are experiencing a reduction in work hours due to COVID-19,” said Hernandez. “It has become difficult for many of our clients to pay their monthly utility bills much less afford healthy food that helps control chronic health issues. If we hear of any program that can help, then we try to connect our clients with that resource.”

Hernandez is an important part of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s service to our community. “It is a pleasure and a worthwhile blessing to be able to work with this program. With each client that I help, I have a feeling of a job and a life that is fulfilled.”

Latino Food Boxes

Wound Care Services have moved to Watauga Surgical Group

Wound Care Services have moved to Watauga Surgical Group

Watauga Surgical Group

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is excited to announce that The Wound Care Center has moved to Watauga Surgical Group in September.

Wound care patients will no longer come to Watauga Medical Center for appointments. Patients should go to Watauga Surgical Group, located at 965 State Farm Road in Boone. This location will be more convenient for patients with a faster check-in process.

Dealing with non-healing wounds that are a result of trauma, surgery, complications with diabetes or pressure ulcers, often require an aggressive multidisciplinary team approach. The wound care team is dedicated to restoring health and mobility to patients living with a persistent wound and their healing rates are 23% higher than the national average.

Wound care services include pre and post-operative education, stoma marking, total contact casting, compression treatment, negative pressure wound therapy, wound irrigation and debridement, skin grafts and more.

For more information about wound care services, please call 828-262-9520 or visit