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MAHEC Boone Rural Family Medicine Residency

MAHEC Boone Rural Family Medicine Residency

The MAHEC Boone Rural Family Medicine Residency Program, located at Watauga Medical Center, and AppFamily Medicine is a partnership between ARHS and Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) and will also serve as a clinical training site for medical students from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. The program was created to train full-scope family doctors to serve in rural and underserved communities. Resident training will take three years, and ARHS and MAHEC are hopeful that many residents will choose to continue their careers in the High Country.

 

Second Year Residents

John Cuningham, MD

John Cuningham, MD

MAHEC Rural Family Medicine Residency

Specialty: Family Medicine

Dr. Cuningham received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed medical school at The University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He particularly enjoys taking care of patients in the hospital. Outside of work, he and his wife take advantage of the beautiful outdoor activities the High Country offers, especially rock climbing, and cooking together.

Jeb Fox, MD

Jeb Fox, MD

MAHEC Rural Family Medicine Residency

Specialty: Family Medicine

Dr. Fox is originally from Boone. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering from N.C. State University and then went on to Chapel Hill to earn his MD from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Dr. Fox is passionate about rural underserved populations, particularly in Appalachia, mental health, reducing stigma, substance use disorders, wilderness medicine, prenatal care, and migrant worker populations.  In his leisure time, he loves to do all things all things music and/or snow sports. He plays guitar and piano, sings, and occasionally tries his hand at writing and recording.

Erinn Murphy, DO

Erinn Murphy, DO

MAHEC Rural Family Medicine Residency

Specialty: Family Medicine

Dr. Murphy received her undergraduate degree from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and attended The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Virginia. She is particularly interested in pediatrics, LGBT medicine, mental health, reproductive health, and osteopathic manipulative treatment. Outside of work, Dr. Murphy enjoys spending time with her fiancé and young daughter.

Lindsey Shapiro, DO

Lindsey Shapiro, DO

MAHEC Rural Family Medicine Residency

Specialty: Family Medicine

Dr. Shapiro received her undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University and attended The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Carolinas. She is particularly interested in lifestyle medicine, pediatrics, reproductive/women's health, mental health, and osteopathic manipulative treatment. Outside of work, Dr. Shapiro can be found painting and creating art, growing cut flowers for arrangements, enjoying the outdoors, and playing with her Sheltie, Riley.

First Year Residents

Connor Glen Brunson, MD

Connor Glen Brunson, MD

MAHEC Rural Family Medicine Residency

Specialty: Family Medicine

Dr. Brunson comes to the High Country with a background as a middle school science teacher and an EMT. He earned a BS in Public Health from the University of South Carolina and his medical degree at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Greenville. His special clinical interests include obstetrics, narrative medicine and underserved populations. He says being in Boone helps him reconnect with a small community and return to nature. Dr. Brunson is a musician who writes his own music as well as plays the guitar, drums and piano. He is also a Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast.

Toria Knox, DO

Toria Knox, DO

MAHEC Rural Family Medicine Residency

Specialty: Family Medicine

Dr. Knox is passionate about rural underserved healthcare in Appalachia. She received her BS in biochemistry from Virginia Tech and DO from Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. Her special clinical interests include lifestyle medicine, osteopathic manipulative treatment and caring for vulnerable populations. She enjoys gardening, outdoor activities, learning new things, and snuggling with her 16-year-old cat Rascal.

Caitlin Porter, DO

Caitlin Porter, DO

MAHEC Rural Family Medicine Residency

Specialty: Family Medicine

Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Dr. Porter is excited about practicing medicine in Boone. She received a degree in biology from Gardner-Webb University and completed medical school at Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Special clinical interests include patient education, rural and underserved populations, and osteopathic manipulative treatments. She enjoys fishing, hiking, spending time with family and hanging out with her goldendoodle Bogey. Her husband is a teaching professional at Grandfather Golf and Country Club.

Jessica Stevens, MD

Jessica Stevens, MD

MAHEC Rural Family Medicine Residency

Specialty: Family Medicine

Dr. Stevens welcomes the opportunity to return to and serve within a community she loves for her residency. She received her undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University and then attended UNC Chapel Hill for medical school. Her special clinical interests include lifestyle/prenatal medicine and sexual health. She enjoys trail running, backpacking, tiny living, botany, reading and spending time with her partner Will and dog Sam.

Haven’t felt like yourself in a while? Help is just a click or call away

Haven’t felt like yourself in a while? Help is just a click or call away

One in four American adults are affected by a mental illness each year, yet only about half of those people are treated for it. Significant barriers include shortage of mental health (also called behavioral health) professionals and access to care. Other obstacles include fear of embarrassment, affordability, lack of transportation, and apathy.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is working to mitigate the shortage of resources with the opening of a free-standing 27-bed psychiatric hospital in the fall of 2021. The Appalachian Regional Behavioral Health Hospital will accept adults ages 18-64 by referral or walk-in.

The Appalachian Regional Behavioral Health (ARBH) team of therapists and providers offer multiple resources for treating mild to severe mental health disorders in the High Country. Outpatient Behavioral Health is located inside Sloop Medical Office Plaza in Linville, and inpatient treatment is currently located within Cannon Memorial Hospital. However, navigating the steps to get help is sometimes intimidating and overwhelming for someone who is already struggling. It can also be frustrating and may seem hopeless for loved ones trying to help.

Behavioral Health Help

 

When and how to get help

 

Eva Trivett-Clark, ARBH Program Manager, shares guidance for those concerned they or a loved one may be suffering from a mental health condition. “A general rule of thumb [for symptoms] is any noticeable increase or decrease in behaviors, thoughts or feelings,” Trivett-Clark said. “An increase in behavior might include talking rapidly, pacing or sleeping too much. A decrease in typical behavior may include such things as withdrawal from family and friends, sleeping too little or feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Any suicidal thoughts, plans or behaviors should be evaluated immediately by calling 911 or going to the local Emergency Department (ED).”

In crisis situations, the ARBH team offers crisis stabilization and disposition for patients presenting at the Emergency Department. From that point, an evaluation will determine the next steps for treatment, which could include a admittance to a psychiatric hospital if needed. When the new psychiatric inpatient hospital opens, patients in crisis will be able to come directly to the hospital for evaluation.

Currently, there are 10 inpatient beds available (in a 40-mile radius) at Cannon Memorial Hospital’s Behavioral Health Unit. This unit treats adults with more acute symptoms. There, patients can begin recovering and rebuilding in a safe, controlled environment that is fully equipped to provide psychiatric evaluation, medication management, individualized treatment planning and group therapy.

Behavioral Health telehealth For less severe symptoms, getting help is as simple as calling ARBH at (828) 737-7888 or requesting an appointment online. No referral is needed.  Completing the depression screening tool, available on the website, is often a good place to start in determining whether one needs help.

Although, the wait time to meet an outpatient therapist for talk therapy could be up to four-six weeks, telehealth appointments are available. This behavioral health program is designed to meet the needs of adults, children and families experiencing a variety of problematic behaviors, thoughts and life patterns.

While reaching out for help may seem like a big step for some, perhaps the hardest task is convincing a reluctant loved one (particularly one who is an adult) that they need professional help. Sometimes listening, validating and asking questions are sufficient, but If they have harmed themselves or someone else, or they are likely to do so, they should be taken to the Emergency Department or 911 should be called.

The truth is everyone struggles sometimes. Whether mental health illnesses come from genetics, personality, life events or brain chemistry, it’s important to know that it’s ok to not be ok. Most mental illnesses don’t improve on their own, and if untreated, may worsen over time and cause serious problems. Professionals at ARBH are ready to help.

Click here or or call (828) 737-7888 for more information about Appalachian Regional Behavioral Health Services.

View and/or download the Depression Screening Questionnaire >

What is Occupational Therapy?

What is Occupational Therapy?

In this day and age, you’ve probably heard the term Occupational Therapy, but you may not be familiar with what it means. Is it the same as physical therapy? Not quite, but it does fall under the physical rehabilitation umbrella. Does it have to do with one’s job? Possibly, but not always.

Occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) are dedicated healthcare professionals who help people of all ages participate in activities and daily tasks that are meaningful and important to them.

Occupational therapy is a science-driven healthcare profession that examines the person, the environment, and the tasks the person desires to perform. The goal is to restore the person’s function or adapt the task or environment for optimal performance.

 

Who can benefit from Occupational Therapy (OT) services?

 

OT can help anyone experiencing difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs). These difficulties might be due to an injury such as a broken wrist or a recent illness or hospitalization that resulted in general weakness and fatigue.

Occupational Therapy - Steering Some activities that might benefit from OT are:

  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Toileting
  • Cooking
  • Leisure Activities
  • Work Tasks
  • Other tasks that are meaningful and important to the person

Occupational therapist can also help with chronic health conditions such as, arthritis, COPD, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease that have impacted a person’s physical or cognitive ability to complete daily tasks.

 

What will an occupational therapist do?

 

The OT will start with an evaluation to collect information on your health history, current limitations, and goals for therapy. From there they will develop an individualized plan of care to help you achieve these goals.

Occupational Therapy with Shirley Faw, OTR/L Interventions could include:

  • Exercises or stretches to help you gain strength or range of motion
  • Splinting
  • Adaptive equipment education and training
  • Safety training and education
  • Pain management
  • Suggestions for home modifications or activity modifications to help you better perform specific activities. 

Our OT’s at The Rehabilitation Center also have specialized training in lymphedema treatment and management, pelvic health issues or concerns, ergonomics assessments and interventions, and aquatic therapy interventions.

 

Having difficulty with something you want to do or need to do?

 

We have a team of OTs and OTAs at The Rehabilitation Center who are here to help you achieve your goals. If you have questions or want to know if you could benefit from Occupational Therapy Services, call our office at (828) 268-9043.

The Rehabilitation Center Boone

232 Boone Heights Drive, Suite A
Boone, NC 28607
Phone (828) 268-9043
Fax (828) 268-9045
Rehabilitation Center website

The Rehabilitation Center Linville

434 Hospital Drive
Linville, NC 28646
Phone (828) 737-7520
Fax (828) 737-7509
Rehabilitation Center website

4 steps to a pain-free home office

4 steps to a pain-free home office

Setting up your home office for optimal performance and decreased musculoskeletal strain

Image: Home Office Pain The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted almost every aspect of our lives since early 2020, and work life is a significant part of that. Many who had previously commuted to an office location every day found themselves suddenly working from home in varying conditions.

Although sitting on the comfy couch in your pajamas might sound like a more comfortable way to work, you are at risk for musculoskeletal strain or pain from awkward sitting postures. Here are some tips for setting up a home office and preventing pain and injuries.

There are three main elements of office and workplace ergonomics:

  • Chair
  • Workstation/desk for keyboard and mouse
  • Monitor or computer screen

 

1. Choose the right chair

Photo: Adjustable Office Chair

Your body will thank you for investing in a proper desk chair. Although a chair from the kitchen table can work for short term (1-2 weeks), it’s worth investing in an adjustable office chair if you will be working remotely for a longer time.

An optimal office chair will:

  • have some adjustable features for height, seat pan depth, tilt, arm rests, and head rests.
  • provide support at your lumbar (low back).
  • allow for your feet to rest flat on the floor.

If your feet do not touch the floor, a small stool or box can be used to allow for foot support. Additionally, there should not be any pressure from the edge of the chair on the backs of your knees.

2. Set up your workstation or desk

Photo: Adjustable Workstation

An ideal workstation should:

  • be adjustable so that you can sit or stand throughout the day.
  • have a “waterfall” or smooth edge – sharp edges put pressure on your wrists. Pipe insulation or other padding can be used to cover sharp edges if necessary.
  • be large enough to accommodate a keyboard, mouse, document holder, and monitor. If you are working from a laptop, an external keyboard and mouse are recommended.

The height of the workstation (keyboard and mouse) should allow for a neutral arm position with elbows at approximately 90 degrees. Measure from your elbow to the floor and subtract 2-3 inches for optimal placement.

There are many options for an external keyboard and mouse; they are not one-size-fits-all. Find a keyboard and mouse that allow your wrists to sit in a neutral position and avoid extreme or awkward positions (bending the wrist too far in any direction). The size of the keyboard and mouse should be a good fit for the size of your hands.

3. Place your monitor or computer screen

Photo: Standing Workstation

Your monitor or computer screen should be placed:

  • at the correct distance from your eyes to reduce eye strain and forced positioning of the head.
  • at the correct height to avoid neck pain.
  • in a position that reduces glare from natural and artificial light.

 

A monitor should be about arm’s length or 20-36 inches away from your body, depending on font size, number of screens, and your eyesight. If you find yourself constantly leaning forward to see the monitor, it is too far away; or you need to make the font size on the monitor larger.

The height of the monitor should allow for a neutral head position to reduce strain on your neck. You don’t need a fancy solution; a stack of paper, books, or small box is an easy way to adjust the monitor if it is too low.

Reducing glare can help reduce eye strain or engaging in awkward postures to see the monitor more clearly. Monitors should be placed perpendicular to windows if possible, and indirect lighting is recommended to help reduce glare. If overhead light is the cause of glare on the monitor, consider using a task light as needed. To give your eyes a break, every 20 minutes take 20 seconds to look at an object at least 20 feet away.

Considerations for dual monitors: If you use both monitors equally, center them in front of you. You may need to move the monitors further away so that both screens are within your central field of vision. You shouldn’t  have to rotate your neck repeatedly to look between the two monitors. If you use one monitor primarily and the other monitor occasionally, center the monitor you use the most in front of you.

4. Develop healthy work-from-home habits

 

Once you have your home office set-up, remember to take breaks and change positions throughout the day. Small breaks, changing positions, and standing up for a stretch break can increase blood flow, reduce the risk of injury, and decrease fatigue.

Lauren Hutchins, MS OTR/L

Need help?

 

Yes, The Rehabilitation Center can help you with your home office. 

If you are experiencing discomfort, overuse injuries or muscle strains from your current work station set-up, the occupational therapists at The Rehabilitation Center can provide an assessment and recommendations specifically for you. Give them a call at 828-238-9043.

Author: Lauren Hutchins, MS OTR/L, The Rehabilitation Center 

The Rehabilitation Center Boone

232 Boone Heights Drive, Suite A
Boone, NC 28607
Phone (828) 268-9043
Fax (828) 268-9045
Rehabilitation Center website

The Rehabilitation Center Linville

434 Hospital Drive
Linville, NC 28646
Phone (828) 737-7520
Fax (828) 737-7509
Rehabilitation Center website

Survivorship Program

Survivorship Program

Survivorship Program

Your Path As A Survivor

Who Is A Cancer Survivor?

According to the National Cancer Institute, a survivor is anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life. The number of cancer survivors in the United States has more than tripled to almost 15.5 million over the past 40 years thanks to advances in detection and treatment.

What does the Survivorship Program Offer?

  • A “Whole Person” approach to a Survivor’s care
  • Resources for Cancer Survivors
  • Initial and subsequent treatment related teaching
  • Incorporation of alternative therapies such as yoga, relaxation & meditation
  • Nutritional teaching, physical strength/weakness assessment
  • Assessment of financial needs and social needs, such as transportation, home support, and caregiver support
  • Stress management before, during, and after treatment
  • Review of treatment side effects
  • Incorporation of Spiritual needs if desired
  • Communication with your other providers to keep them “in the loop”

Resources For Cancer Survivors

Casting for Recovery Fly Fishing Retreats

The mission of Casting for Recovery® (CfR) is to enhance the quality of life of women with breast cancer through a unique retreat program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing. The program offers opportunities for women to find inspiration, discover renewed energy for life and experience healing connections with other women and nature. CfR serves women of all ages, in all stages of breast cancer treatment and recovery, at no cost to participants.

Learn More >

How do I become part of the Survivorship Program?

You and the journey you are on matter to us, and we want to make continuing that journey as simple as possible.

After treatment is complete, the provider will refer you to the Survivorship program if warranted, or upon your request.

What Can I Do To Improve My Quality of Life Post-Treatment?

Cancer Exercise Program

We’re so glad you asked! As mentioned briefly above, we have partnered with the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center and the Rehabilitation Center to bring you a fantastic post-treatment Cancer Exercise Program.

The goal of this program is to help you with your transition from treatment to regular exercise, increase your energy, reduce fatigue associated with cancer treatments, provide knowledge and accountability related to exercise, and help you meet great people who are on a similar journey as you!

It is a 10 week long program that includes 2-90 minute exercise programs a week. The 90 minute sessions include a vital and fatigue assessment, proper warmup, aerobic activities, strength activities, and a proper cool-down from the instruction from an Exercise Specialist.

Interested? Learn more about this program today! >

Still Have Questions?

Follow the link below to speak with someone about our services today! 

3 ways to warm up the Winter Blues (with infographic)

3 ways to warm up the Winter Blues (with infographic)

Endless grey skies, drizzle to snow mixtures, and wind so gusty you see it coming before it hits you paints a not-so-colorful stretch of winter weather typically found in the High Country. Days of dark, dreary weather have been known to make some folks come down with the winter blues or its more extreme version, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Winter Blues Infographic

Click image to enlarge, download or print.

“The winter blues are fairly common in our area with long winter months and very grey days. The challenge is diagnosing whether a client has a mild case of winter blues, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or another form of depression,” says Lisa Shelton, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Director of the Employee Assistance program with Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.

Symptoms for the winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) appear to be similar on the onset and may include:

  • Sleep issues (either too much or not enough)
  • Fatigued to the point where it is difficult to carry out daily routines
  • Overeating and/or strong cravings for “comfort foods,” especially carbohydrates
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Social withdrawal

Treatment techniques will determine whether or not the winter blues really are SAD or another form of depression. Shelton recommends a three-step process to clients describing some form of the winter blues.

 

Step one: Exercise

Wellness Center Yes, it’s a verb buzzed about all the time, but all this talk must lead to positive results because doctors, counselors, and other healthcare professionals are always recommending it. And, our area offers the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center, the Greenway, several parks, and sidewalks round about Boone to help you enjoy slivers of daylight during the winter months. A long walk outside helps refresh your senses, and if it is too yucky to go out, a creative solution may be to brighten up your home and do some jumping jacks, run-in-place, or stretches. Any form of exercise will help you warm up the winter blues.

 

Step two: Strive to sleep and rest well

Sleep StudyIf you exercise, you’re more likely to tire yourself out and sleep better. Other considerations include reducing caffeine intake, make an effort to turn off your thoughts (counting sheep is always a popular game), or just simply lying there and resting. If you continue to have trouble sleeping, seek your doctor’s advice and ask if a sleep study is right for you. If you are sleeping too much, make an effort to avoid snoozing past eight hours.

 

Step three: Engage in an activity that gives you pleasure

Art-Therapy-2 This suggestion seems simple enough, but people often struggle with time and money to make it happen. However, if you make it a priority, you’re likely to come up with an affordable solution that fits your budget. Popular winter activities may include reading, completing craft projects, sledding, ice skating, or other ideas discovered by talking with friends.

 

 

Be self-aware

“Being aware of your symptoms is so important to getting past the winter blues. We’re most vulnerable when we’re unaware of what’s going on with us. Sometimes sitting down and talking with a trusted friend, family member, or professional, qualified healthcare worker can be very successful in dealing with the winter months,” continues Shelton.

If the above three steps do not seem to help your mood, seek the advice of your doctor or a licensed behavioral healthcare worker. Appalachian Regional Behavioral Health Services offers crisis care, therapy, and psychiatric services if you should need professional help.

 

Treatment

Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may include light therapy, which involves exposure to daylight or a specially-made fluorescent bright light for 30 minutes to two hours a day. SAD can often be confused with other forms of depression, and patients with SAD aren’t usually diagnosed with it until their symptoms can be observed over a period of one or more fall/winter seasons.

Shelton concludes, “The most important consideration is to take the time to make your mental health a priority. People affected by the winter blues or other more serious forms of depression must strive to adjust their routines in order to have success, and the rewards of a happy, healthy mind are well worth the effort.”

 

Wherever you are, we’ll meet you there.

By using our Telehealth option, you may visit with your provider from the comfort and convenience of your home. No referral needed.

  • Contact Appalachian Regional Behavioral Health at (828) 737-7888 or visit the website
  • Contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at (828) 268-9049. 

 

 

For High Country employers: 

Lisa Shelton and staff of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) are available to provide short-term professional help and guidance to all employees and their family members of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System as a part of the system’s benefits program. The EAP is highly confidential and accepts voluntary self-referrals. Additionally, the EAP contracts to provide services for the Town of Boone, Town of Beech Mountain, Grandfather Mountain, Boone Drug, several doctors’ offices, and other organizations throughout the High Country. For more information about EAP, call (828) 263-0121.