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.
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.
Our commitment to provide you the highest quality healthcare is born from a deep-rooted belief that to live here is a privilege, and with privilege comes responsibility.
Our responsibility is to deliver premier healthcare—which means having the best doctors and nurses, the most innovative healing technologies, the most modern, coordinated spaces and systems for family and patient-centered care.
That’s exactly why we are investing today in critical upgrades for tomorrow—improving and enhancing our entire operations from the inside out. Because this is what you expect and deserve; it’s what you’ve come to trust from us after 60 years of dedication to this community.
Just like the mountains all around, we stand ready to deliver more than seems possible, and precisely what you need.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) is excited to announce the opening of the new Heart & Vascular Center at Watauga Medical Center (WMC) in Boone. Formerly known as The Cardiology Center, the 8,000 square foot facility will open on August 17th in a new heart care wing at the medical center.
The Heart & Vascular Center will provide more efficient and convenient access for patients, by integrating outpatient heart care with diagnostic services in the same convenient location.
“We are excited to provide a collaborative approach to the treatment of complex heart and vascular conditions,” said Kim Bianca, President of Watauga Medical Center. “Bringing services – diagnostic testing, catheterization lab, etc. – under one roof reduces the wait time for patients and enhances the level of interaction between medical professionals to collaborate and deliver customized care.”
Patients of the Heart & Vascular Center will find twelve exam rooms, three device rooms, and two heart failure treatment rooms. The new name represents the enhanced service offerings and multi-disciplined team of board-certified cardiologists, advanced practice providers, cardiac nurses, office staff, and device technicians that all partner with patients to manage symptoms, monitor medications, and create customized treatment plans.
Time is Muscle
During a cardiac emergency, time is muscle. A delay in restoring blood flow increases the chance for significant damage to the heart muscle.
On July 1, Watauga Medical Center began performing cardiac catheterizations 24/7. This expanded service ensures patients experiencing a cardiac emergency receive a prompt diagnosis and expedited treatment in Boone. Now with 24/7 coverage, cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, emergency department providers and emergency first responders can partner to diagnose problems with blood flow, blood pressure and valve function, which can save lives and reduce the chances of long-term damage.
Watauga Medical Center has two interventional procedure labs equipped to provide comprehensive cardiovascular care including coronary and peripheral vascular procedures, interventional radiology, interventional cardiac procedures (cardiac cath), and device implants such as heart monitors, pacemakers and defibrillators. On average, more than 450 diagnostic cardiac catheterizations are done annually at WMC.
“The catheterization lab also boasts a 40-minute door-to-balloon time, which is 14 minutes better than the national average,” said Dr. Donna Denier, Medical Director for the Cath Lab and Heart and Vascular Center.” (Door -to balloon time is a national metric in the treatment of heart attacks. It denotes the time between when the patient arrives in the emergency room until the time the balloon is inflated in the blocked, coronary artery. The recommended door-to-balloon time is 90 minutes).
Excellence and Quality
With all of the changes that are taking place at the medical center regarding heart and vascular care, one thing patients can be certain will remain the same: the award winning care they receive from the multi-disciplined heart and vascular team. Their high standards of excellence have not gone unnoticed. The most recent accolades they’ve received include the Gold Seal of Approval and advanced certification for Chest Pain by the Joint Commission, along with a 5-star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Healthgrades also recognized Watauga Medical Center with the 2020 Coronary Intervention Excellence Award™ and they were ranked in the top 10% in the nation in 2020. WMC also received a 5-star rating for Treatment of Heart Attack two years in a row (2019-2020) and a 5-star rating for Treatment of Heart Failure in 2020.
Additionally, the Echocardiography labs at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital in Linville are certified by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission in Echocardiography for heart (cardiac) imaging excellence.
“Having a local healthcare team experienced in heart and vascular care is not just a convenience, it is imperative,” said Bianca. “The opening of this facility represents our continued commitment to providing excellent medical care in the high country.”
While it is understandable that many patients have concerns about seeking care for non-coronavirus-related conditions, the health risks of delaying care – especially regarding heart health – could be more severe than COVID-19 itself. All of ARHS has implemented enhanced safety measures to include rigorous cleaning protocols, limited visitation, advanced screening processes, and separate medical units for those suspected of having COVID-19.
“Please do not delay care, as time is of the essence with any heart-related issue,” Bianca continued. “Reports of heart attacks have declined by 40 percent worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. While COVID-19 is still impacting the area, our number one priority at the Heart & Vascular Center and across the healthcare system is safe, timely care.”