Archive For: News

Ana Gonzalez, MD to join Sylva Medical Center in early September

gonzalezSylva, N.C. – WestCare is pleased to welcome Ana Gonzalez, MD to Sylva Medical Center, who will begin seeing patients Monday, September 8.

Gonzalez is a family medicine physician who received her medical degree from Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University and completed a residency at Cabell Huntington Hospital, both in Huntington, West Virginia.

Gonzalez is board-certified with the American Board of Family Medicine and is fluent in speaking, reading, and writing Spanish. She has experience treating patients of all ages in the hospital setting, managing acute and chronic medical conditions, as well as tropical diseases, and has also provided obstetrical care. In addition, she has training in international health.

As she joins Sylva Medical Center, which is located on the second floor of Harris Medical Park in Sylva, Gonzalez will focus on providing primary care to adult patients along with the practice’s internal medicine physicians Randall Provost, MD, Lee Ann Manthorne, DO, Steven Queen, MD, and Elizabeth Dixon, MD.

Gonzalez is the 10th physician to join WestCare in 2014. In addition to family and internal medicine, WestCare has welcomed physicians in the specialties of obstetrics/gynecology, palliative care and hospice, emergency medicine, pediatrics, and pulmonology across its campuses in Sylva and Bryson City.

Gonzalez enjoys outdoor activities and recently relocated to western North Carolina with her husband and two-year-old son.

Appointments are available now by calling 828-586-8971. For more information and a full WestCare provider directory, visit www.westcare.org.

WestCare EMS and Swain County Hospital attain top national rankings for patient experience

Swain ED PRC Award w EMS Award w

Sylva, NC – WestCare Emergency Medical Services and Swain County Hospital Emergency Department were recently awarded for excellence in patient satisfaction in the U.S. by Professional Research Consultants, a national healthcare research firm and leader in gauging healthcare consumer perceptions.

PRC annually recognizes healthcare facilities, providers, outpatient service lines, and inpatient units scoring in the top percentages of their national client database for the prior calendar year through the National Excellence in Healthcare Awards.

WestCare EMS received the 5-Star Award, scoring in the top 10 percent of the national database.

Swain County Hospital Emergency Department received the 4-Star Award, scoring in the top 25% of the national database.

The awards are based on the percentage of patients who rated the units “excellent” for the overall quality of care question.

“Receiving these awards from PRC is a true reflection of the level of skill and response our paramedics, nurses, physicians, technicians, and other staff members possess,” said Anetra Jones, Chief Nurse Executive for WestCare. “Providing excellent healthcare requires a full commitment to excellence from each person involved in that care, and these awards prove the commitment of these outstanding teams.”

WestCare EMS staffs three ambulances daily, responding to over 400 calls a month, in addition to providing support for the Jackson County First Responder program as well as educational and outreach programs for a variety of local institutions. The unit is also a North Carolina Office of EMS accredited teaching institution and an approved teaching site for many of the National Association of EMT’s courses.

The Swain County Hospital Emergency Department has provided emergency medical care to residents of Bryson City and surrounding communities for many years, offering the full spectrum of emergency care. The department is staffed with physicians with special training in emergency medicine, as well as an outstanding nursing staff with many years of clinical experience.

Swain County Hospital recently welcomed Stephen Plemmons, BSN, RN as Clinical Nursing Administrator, whose oversight includes the emergency department. Plemmons was a nurse at the bedside for eight years before recently serving in emergency medicine leadership roles.

“As a leader in providing quality healthcare, our commitment to caring for the whole person has to involve excellence in providing life-saving measures,” said Steve Heatherly, President and CEO of WestCare. “We are proud of these teams each day for their commitment to saving lives and for demonstrating that in each patient interaction, as these awards indicate.”

 

Swain ED Award (L to R) – Tammy Stephenson, RN, Bonnie Macon, RN, Anetra Jones, WestCare Chief Nurse Executive, and Steve Heatherly, WestCare President and CEO.

EMS Award (L to R) – Dr. Jud Garbarino, WestCare EMS Medical Director, Steven Rice, WestCare EMS Director, Anetra Jones, WestCare Chief Nurse Executive, Zach Stutts, WestCare EMS Training Officer, and Steve Heatherly, WestCare President and CEO.

WestCare Wellness presents series of monthly health and wellness events in partnership with Jackson County Department of Public Health

Sylva, NC – Beginning next month, WestCare Wellness will host a monthly series of health and wellness events entitled “Tuesdays to Thrive” in partnership with Jackson County Department of Public Health.

Tuesdays to Thrive events, which are free and open to the public, will focus on timely health topics using a whole-body approach. Attendees can learn valuable information, including preventative tips and evidence-based practices, about important health topics like diabetes, asthma and allergies, skin cancer prevention, cooking for a healthy weight, and more.

The first event, which will focus on preparing healthy family meals, will be held Thursday, September 4 from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. in the main lobby at Harris Regional Hospital and will also feature a recipe contest and cooking contest. Attendees may sign up to participate in the “Kitchen Showdown Competition,” in which family teams (consisting of two or more people) may submit a recipe using healthy ingredients with easy preparation, and, if selected, prepare their recipe at the event. A panel of judges will select the winning recipe based on taste. Those interested in participating can find a recipe submission form at www.westcarehealth.org/tuesdays-to-thrive/kitchen-showdown-rules. In order to participate in the competition, recipes must be submitted by Thursday, August 28. Ideas for quick, healthy meals and cooking tips will also be shared at the event.

“We are proud to offer events focused around wellness and the prevention of illness and disease,” said Steve Heatherly, WestCare President and CEO. “While our main function is to provide the highest quality of care to those experiencing sickness, we also want to be known as an organization focused on helping individuals to remain healthy and well throughout life.”

WestCare Wellness and the Jackson County Department of Public Health have partnered for these events as they share the goal of helping to create and support wellness for individuals in Jackson County.

“As we seek to serve the health needs of local residents, we strive to promote healthy habits and offer advice on getting and staying healthy,” said Melissa McKnight, Health Educator at Jackson County Department of Public Health. “We are excited to partner with WestCare for this series of events in order to represent healthcare from a preventative perspective.”

Complimentary refreshments and door prizes will be available at each event, which will be held the first Tuesday of each month through August of 2015, with the exception of the event on Thursday, September 4. A full calendar of events and their respective topics can be found online at www.westcarehealth.org.

For more information, contact WestCare Wellness Coordinator Melanie Batchelor at (828) 586-7734, or Melissa McKnight, Health Educator at Jackson County Department of Public Health, at (828) 587-8288.

Patti Sparling, FNP, to begin practicing at WestCare’s primary care clinic at Western Carolina University

patti sparling2Cullowhee, NC – Family Nurse Practitioner Patti Sparling will begin seeing patients in WestCare’s new primary care clinic in the Health and Human Sciences Building at Western Carolina University on September 2.

Sparling, who has practiced for nine years at Center for Family Medicine, WestCare’s outpatient primary care practice in Franklin, will begin seeing patients in a new clinic space on the west campus of WCU designed to make access to quality care conveniently available to residents of Cullowhee.

The clinic is located on the first floor of the Health and Human Sciences Building and is a partnership between WestCare and WCU which, in addition to providing quality care, will allow WCU nurse practitioner students and students in related fields to receive education and training in an on-site clinical environment, which has been a targeted goal for the new, state-of-the-art building, with classes in multiple areas of specialty taking place in the midst of functioning clinical environments. WestCare also operates a full-service sports medicine and rehabilitation clinic, which includes access to aquatic therapy, in the facility.

Sparling earned her family nurse practitioner degree from WCU and has provided excellent care to residents of Macon County throughout her nine year tenure with Center for Family Medicine, where she practiced alongside Todd Davis, MD, Anthony Esterwood, MD, and Ewa Susfal, MD.

WestCare is excited to announce Sparling’s transition to Cullowhee and is pleased to expand access to primary care to the Cullowhee community as providers at Center for Family Medicine continue to provide excellent care in Macon County.

To make an apppointment, call (828) 631-8800.

WestCare Wellness presents series of monthly health and wellness events in partnership with Jackson County Department of Public Health

Sylva, NC – Beginning next month, WestCare Wellness will host a monthly series of health and wellness events entitled “Tuesdays to Thrive” in partnership with Jackson County Department of Public Health.

Tuesdays to Thrive events, which are free and open to the public, will focus on timely health topics using a whole-body approach. Attendees can learn valuable information, including preventative tips and evidence-based practices, about important health topics like diabetes, asthma and allergies, skin cancer prevention, cooking for a healthy weight, and more.

The first event, which will focus on preparing healthy family meals, will be held Thursday, September 4 from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. in the main lobby at Harris Regional Hospital and will also feature a recipe contest and cooking contest. Attendees may sign up to participate in the “Kitchen Showdown Competition,” in which family teams (consisting of two or more people) may submit a recipe using healthy ingredients with easy preparation, and, if selected, prepare their recipe at the event. A panel of judges will select the winning recipe based on taste. Those interested in participating can find a recipe submission form at www.westcarehealth.org/tuesdays-to-thrive/kitchen-showdown-rules. In order to participate in the competition, recipes must be submitted by Thursday, August 28. Ideas for quick, healthy meals and cooking tips will also be shared at the event.

“We are proud to offer events focused around wellness and the prevention of illness and disease,” said Steve Heatherly, WestCare President and CEO. “While our main function is to provide the highest quality of care to those experiencing sickness, we also want to be known as an organization focused on helping individuals to remain healthy and well throughout life.”

WestCare Wellness and the Jackson County Department of Public Health have partnered for these events as they share the goal of helping to create and support wellness for individuals in Jackson County.

“As we seek to serve the health needs of local residents, we strive to promote healthy habits and offer advice on getting and staying healthy,” said Melissa McKnight, Health Educator at Jackson County Department of Public Health. “We are excited to partner with WestCare for this series of events in order to represent healthcare from a preventative perspective.”

Complimentary refreshments and door prizes will be available at each event, which will be held the first Tuesday of each month through August of 2015, with the exception of the event on Thursday, September 4. A full calendar of events and their respective topics can be found online at www.westcarehealth.org.

For more information, contact WestCare Wellness Coordinator Melanie Batchelor at (828) 586-7734, or Melissa McKnight, Health Educator at Jackson County Department of Public Health, at (828) 587-8288.

WESTCARE HEALTH SYSTEM ACQUIRED BY DUKE LIFEPOINT

Acquisition will bring hospitals in Sylva and Bryson City $43 million in capital improvements and new resources to enhance healthcare delivery

Sylva, NC (August 1, 2014) – The WestCare Health System Board of Trustees and Duke LifePoint Healthcare today announced that the acquisition of WestCare by Duke LifePoint has been finalized.

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, which was reviewed by the Attorney General of North Carolina, Duke LifePoint purchased Harris Regional Hospital, an 86-bed hospital in Sylva; Swain County Hospital, a 48-bed hospital in Bryson City; and WestCare Medical Park, an outpatient medical facility in Franklin. Duke LifePoint will invest a minimum of $43 million in capital improvements over the next eight years and provide new resources to help the system grow, recruit new physicians, enhance services and improve health care delivery throughout the region.

“As we have explored this acquisition over the last several months, Duke LifePoint has shown that it shares WestCare’s commitment to our hospitals, our patients and our communities,” said Bunny Johns, Chair of the WestCare Board of Trustees. “We are excited to begin our future as part of Duke LifePoint and to explore the great opportunities we have to enhance health care services to make our communities healthier.”

Becoming part of Duke LifePoint offers many benefits to WestCare’s hospitals, medical staff, employees and communities. Proceeds from the acquisition will retire WestCare’s financial obligations and fund a locally governed charitable foundation to support community needs. WestCare also becomes a local taxpayer, providing a source of new tax revenue to support the local economy.

“Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital have been a critical part of the health care infrastructure in western North Carolina for many years,” said LifePoint Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William F. Carpenter III. “We are proud to partner with these hospitals to strengthen quality care across this region and look forward to working with their teams to better position the hospitals to grow and prosper in the changing health care environment.”

WestCare’s hospitals now have access to Duke University Health System’s top-ranked patient safety, quality and education programs and LifePoint’s financial and operational resources and expertise.
“We are pleased to welcome WestCare to Duke LifePoint,” said William J. Fulkerson Jr., M.D., executive vice president of Duke University Health System. “Generations of people in this region have relied on WestCare’s hospitals and, together with WestCare’s board, executives, medical staff and employees, we will work together to further enhance health care in this region.”

WestCare will be governed by a regional board of trustees comprised of members of WestCare’s communities, local physicians and representatives from Duke LifePoint.

“WestCare’s relationship with Duke LifePoint marks a new beginning for our hospitals in Sylva and Bryson City and our outpatient center in Franklin,” said Steve Heatherly, CEO of WestCare Health System. “I look forward to working with Duke LifePoint to strengthen health care in our community by providing exceptional experiences for patients and families and growth opportunities for our staff,”

About WestCare Health System
WestCare Health System was formed through a partnership of Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital in 1997 and serves Jackson, Swain, Macon and Graham counties with primary and subspecialty care, outpatient facilities and urgent care.

About Duke LifePoint Healthcare
Duke LifePoint Healthcare, a joint venture of Duke University Health System, Inc. and LifePoint Hospitals® (NASDAQ: LPNT), was established to build a dynamic network of hospitals and healthcare providers. The joint venture, which brings together LifePoint’s experience in community-based hospital management and Duke’s world-renowned leadership in clinical service, is strengthening and improving healthcare delivery by providing community hospitals the clinical, quality and operational resources they need to grow and prosper. For additional information, visit www.dukelifepointhealthcare.com.

American Red Cross experiencing shortage in donations, calls for donations

Sylva, NC – WestCare reminds blood donors that the American Red Cross is in need of blood and platelet donations of all types in order to supplement a shortage in donations over the last eight weeks.

The Red Cross supplies donated blood products to healthcare organizations, including Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital, on a regular basis and has seen a decline of approximately 8% in donations during the past 11 weeks. Donations are needed to prevent an emergency shortage and to ensure that blood products are available to patients throughout the remainder of the summer.

All individuals who are eligible to give blood or platelets, especially those with blood types O negative, B negative, and A negative, are encouraged to call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit www.redcrossblood.org to make an appointment to give or to locate a local blood drive.

American Red Cross blood drives are held at both Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital throughout the year. Visit www.westcarehealth.org or the WestCare Facebook page for information on scheduled blood drives and make plans to give.

Mountain Regional Gynecology welcomes physicians, expands to include obstetrics

Megan Metcalf, MD

Megan Metcalf, MD

Clay Smallwood, MD

Clay Smallwood, MD


Mila Bruce, MD

Mila Bruce, MD

Sylva, NC – WestCare Health is pleased to announce the expansion of Mountain Regional Gynecology to include obstetrics.

Mountain Regional OB/GYN, a physician practice employed by WestCare and dedicated to serving the gynecological and obstetrical needs of women in Jackson and surrounding counties, will be located on the third floor of Harris Medical Park in Sylva, adjacent to Harris Regional Hospital, with physicians Clay Smallwood, MD, FACOG, Mila Bruce, MD, JFACOG, and Megan Metcalf, MD, JFACOG, seeing patients beginning in early August.
Dr. Smallwood, who is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is accredited in Advanced Laparoscopy by the Accreditation Council for Obstetrics and Gynecology, has served patients in western North Carolina for 30 years, most recently practicing as the sole physician at Mountain Regional Gynecology, where he has and will continue to focus exclusively on patients’ gynecological needs.
Dr. Smallwood received his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and completed his internship and residency at the United States Air Force Medical Center at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.
“I welcome Dr. Bruce and Dr. Metcalf to the practice and am happy that they will be offering obstetrical and well as gynecological care,” said Dr. Smallwood. “It is and has been my privilege and passion to serve patients in this community, and I believe that combining our level of skill and experience will broaden access to excellent care for patients in the region.”
Dr. Bruce, who began serving patients locally in 2012, is a Junior Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Bruce received her medical degree from St. Matthews University College of Medicine in Grand Cayman, West Indies and completed a residency at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. Bruce is trained in high-risk obstetrics, including treating a variety of situations during pregnancy such as diabetes, hypertensive and endocrine disorders, multi-fetal gestations, cardiac conditions, and advanced maternal age. She also has experience with infertility assessment and treatment and specializes in performing minimally invasive gynecological surgeries.

Dr. Metcalf joins the practice having recently relocated to western North Carolina from Virginia, where she completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. She received her medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center and is a Junior Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, having also received numerous academic honors including awards for research and the Apple Teaching Award all four years of her residency, with special distinction as the top resident teacher in 2012. Metcalf also speaks Spanish and enjoys conversing with her Spanish-speaking patients.
“Our outstanding team of physicians and nurses, coupled with almost $1 million of investment in new facilities, equipment and technology for the New Generations Family Birthing Center, have positioned us to be the leading provider of women’s services in our region for years to come,” said Steve Heatherly, President and CEO of WestCare.
A longstanding leader in labor and delivery care, Harris Regional Hospital performs over 600 deliveries each year and was recently recognized by the North Carolina Hospital Association as having an early elective delivery rate at or below 1% for the entire year of 2013, meeting a state-wide goal set by the NCHA. An early elective delivery, often through induction or Cesarean section, can lead to complications for the baby, resulting in admissions to neonatal intensive care units, increased length of stay, and higher costs for patients and payers.
In addition to successfully meeting the NCHA’s goal for reducing early elective deliveries, Harris was also ranked second of all North Carolina hospitals for avoiding unnecessary C-section deliveries, according to Consumer Reports data, which is based on C-section rates for mothers who anticipate low-risk delivery and is the largest single source of comparative C-section data for individual hospitals in the country. Harris received the best out of five possible ratings, indicating one of the lowest percentages of unnecessary C-sections out of the state’s 82 hospitals.
“Drs. Smallwood, Bruce, and Metcalf are incredibly skilled physicians and their partnership will undoubtedly increase our efficiency in providing care as well as our outstanding reputation in labor and delivery services,” Heatherly said.

Mountain Regional OB/GYN will occupy Suite 320 at Harris Medical Park. Dr. Billy Noell will continue to provide excellent general surgery care with Paragon Surgical in Suite 310.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact the practice at (828) 631-8913.

WestCare LifePath Palliative Care & Hospice seeking volunteers, offering training

Sylva, N.C. – WestCare LifePath Palliative Care & Hospice is seeking volunteers for the LifePath team to assist in supporting patients under palliative care or hospice treatment, and is offering volunteer training sessions beginning in August.
Multiple areas of volunteer opportunity are available, including supporting patients and families in their place of residence, providing administrative support in the LifePath office, assisting with hospice projects, contacting bereaved families to help provide grief support, and providing spiritual care. LifePath volunteers are free to choose how much time they will commit and are given the opportunity to schedule visits with patients at their convenience.
12 hours of training are required for those wishing to volunteer. The next volunteer training sessions will be held Saturday, August 9th from 8:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. at the LifePath office, located at 26 WestCare Drive, Suite 301, Sylva.
To sign up for the volunteer training sessions or for more information, contact Lauren Stafford, at 828-631-1702.

WestCare honors 14 employees for service milestones

Sylva, N.C. – WestCare recently held a lunch and ceremony to honor 14 employees for their years of service on the Harris, Swain and Franklin campuses.

The employees were recognized for milestones ranging from five to 35 years and collectively represented 210 years of service to WestCare. Each employee’s manager provided brief words of praise for the staff member before awarding them with a framed certificate.

Employees recognized this quarter were:

5 Years: Josh Crawford, Graphic Designer; Kristyn Holland, Medical Technologist.

10 Years: Mina Bandy, Billing Coordinator; Connie Edmonds, MAP Coordinator, Good Samaritan Clinic; Selina Jones, Medical Laboratory Tech; Shane Szittai, Tech Support Analyst.

15 Years: Stephanie Conner, RN, ICU; Mistee Cutshaw, RN, WNC Pediatric and Adolescent Care; Mary Mahon, Palliative Care Clinical Coordinator.

20 Years: Tina Fisher, Medical Laboratory Tech; Tammy Frady, PERS Coordinator, Home Health; Ronnie Kelly, Clinical Application Analyst; Carrie Winchester, RN, Swain Emergency Department.

35 Years: Vicki Davis, RN, Clinical Coordinator, Recovery Room.

“It’s an honor to recognize the dedication and longstanding service of our staff members who have chosen to work at WestCare. These awards exemplify the commitment of our employees, including our department directors and outstanding physicians,” said Steve Heatherly, WestCare President and CEO. “We thank each of them for providing excellent care for patients and for supporting each other in their roles.”

Service awards luncheons are held quarterly at Harris Regional Hospital.