Archive For: Physician News

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 Health welcomes Dr. Gregory Brown to Western Carolina Pulmonary and Sleep Consultants

Sylva – WestCare Health is pleased to welcome Gregory Brown, MD to Western Carolina Pulmonary and Sleep Consultants. Dr. Brown will join Dr. Angela Connaughton in providing pulmonary and critical care to patients in the region with offices in Sylva, Bryson City and Franklin. Dr. Beth Bailey and family nurse practitioner Jodie Wade provide sleep services. Dr. Brown began seeing patients on June 9th.

Dr. Brown completed a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care at the University of Iowa Hospital & Clinics. He received his medical degree from the Ohio State University College of Medicine where he also completed an internship and residency. Dr. Brown has practiced in Chambersburg, Penn. for the last 22 years. Dr. Brown holds certification in both pulmonary disease and critical care medicine from the American Board of Internal Medicine. He is a fellow in the American College of Chest Physicians and has held numerous physician leadership positions throughout his medical career.

Dr. Brown and his wife Rebby have four grown children and have relocated to the area. Western Carolina Pulmonary and Sleep Consultants is located on the campus of Harris Regional Hospital directly behind the hospital. To reach Western Carolina Pulmonary and Sleep Consultants call 586-7994 or visit www.westcare.org.

WestCare hospice medical director Dr. Ron Fisher retires after 34 years of service

Ron Fisher 2007 MH wSylva, N.C. – Dr. Ron Fisher, who most recently served as medical director for the WestCare hospice program, recently retired, having provided care to local residents for 34 years. A reception in his honor will be held Thursday, April 3, from 4:30-6pm in the main lobby at Harris Regional Hospital.
After obtaining his medical degree from the University of Florida and completing a residency at Mission Hospital, Fisher began his medical career practicing family medicine and practiced with Sylva Medical Center. Inspired by medical leaders who focused on caring for the whole patient rather than treating symptoms, Dr. Fisher later geared his focus toward palliative and hospice care, specialties that reflected that inspiration by offering a more personalized scope of treatment for patients.
Fisher was the original medical director of WestCare’s palliative care and hospice program, which he helped spearhead in the early 1980s. Since that time, Dr. Fisher has developed a legacy as a palliative and hospice medicine leader in western North Carolina, demonstrating his passion and strong ability to care for patients during the most difficult and trying stages of life.
“As a healthcare system, we have been privileged to have a physician as dedicated to serving our patients as Dr. Ron Fisher,” said Steve Heatherly, President and CEO of WestCare. “Dr. Fisher leaves a true legacy of excellent and compassionate care, and we are grateful to have benefitted in many ways from his leadership in palliative and hospice care.”
Palliative care is a unique medical specialty centered around treating patients with critical or life-limiting illness. Hospice care is a type of palliative care focused on treating patients who are at the end of life. The WestCare palliative care and hospice program recently changed its name to WestCare LifePath Palliative Care and Hospice, a name that is symbolic of the journey patients and families take together with palliative and hospice care.
Community members are invited to attend the reception honoring Dr. Fisher. A photo board will be available for friends, patients, and families who have been served by Dr. Fisher to sign as a gift at his retirement.
For questions or more information, please contact WestCare LifePath at (828) 631-1702.

Local physician completes relay run in support of athletic training program and promoting fitness for general health

Cullowhee, NC – Dr. Randall Provost of Sylva Medical Center, who supervises Western Carolina University athletic training students as they complete clinical education requirements, recently participated in the “Mountain Jug Run for Research,” a 175-mile relay from Cullowhee to Boone to raise money for athletic training research and scholarships. WestCare sponsored Dr. Provost in the run on behalf of Carolina West Sports Medicine, which provides physician coverage and athletic training for WCU athletics and the local high schools.

Named after the well-known football rivalry between WCU and Appalachian State University, the relay takes place primarily along the Blue Ridge Parkway, with runners completing five-mile stretches five different times along the course. The annual event has brought in over $17,000 over the last six years, dollars which go directly to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s Research and Education Foundation which awards research grants and academic scholarships to the fields of athletic training and sports medicine.

Dr. Provost, who practices internal medicine in the primary care setting, participated in the run for several different reasons. “I believe that ‘Exercise is Medicine,’ a belief long held by the American College of Sports Medicine. Because of the substantial health benefits of exercise, anyone can benefit from an increase in physical activity that is appropriate for their age and circumstances,” he said. “I also believe WCU’s athletic training program produces positive community input as local high school athletes benefit from the expertise of the graduates, including my own kids. I’ve been impressed by how well-educated these students are.”

Medical research shows a trend indicating that physical inactivity and obesity in our culture could result in a shorter lifespan, with much of the weight gain and lack of physical activity due to the sedentary nature of many modern jobs.

“Some studies show that inactivity and obesity-related illnesses account for around $200 billion of annual medical costs in our nation,” said Dr. Provost. “It is my belief that this amount can be reduced by promoting lifestyle changes in the healthcare setting. The Jug Run’s unique concept of promoting fitness in students while doing a service activity is inspiring in the larger sense of the public health impact of poor fitness.”

As an organization that cares about the issues surrounding wellness both financially and in practice, WestCare maintains a comprehensive internal wellness program that includes many incentives for employees to stay healthy, such as discounts on insurance costs for wellness program participation.

“As an organization, one of our goals is to promote health and wellness in the lives of our employees,” said WestCare Wellness Coordinator Melanie Batchelor, RD, LDN. “We strive daily to implement helpful strategies and support for employees to engage in healthy eating habits, fitness activities, smoking cessation, and more.”

Always looking for insight into the broader issue of shifting our culture toward a healthier level of physical activity, Dr. Provost encourages patients to utilize local resources such as fitness centers, walking trails, and support programs to gain a greater level of physical fitness.

“Not only do depression and anxiety respond to exercise, but it is protective against dementia, promotes healthier cholesterol levels, and the risk of diabetes is lessened in patients who are fit, plus countless other benefits,” he said. “If you’re a parent, you can make a positive impact on your children by your example of fitness.”

18 people participated in the Jug Run, including James Scifers who is the originator of the relay and a professor of athletic training at WCU, which began in early morning hours in Cullowhee on Friday, October 11. The group finished the 175-mile trek in Boone the morning of Saturday, October 12, running overnight and achieving a record time of 27 hours and 25 minutes.

Harris Regional Hospital presenting free hip replacement “Lunch and Learn” with orthopedic surgeon Ryan Slechta, MD and Hannah Hill, PA-C November 1st

headshot_Hill_HannahHarris Regional Hospital presenting free hip replacement “Lunch and Learn” with orthopedic surgeon Ryan Slechta, MD and Hannah Hill, PA-C November 1st

Sylva, N.C. – Harris Regional Hospital is presenting a free Lunch and Learn session with orthopedic surgeon Ryan Slechta, MD and Hannah Hill, PA-C from noon to 1 p.m., Friday, November 1, in the Harris Regional Hospital board room, located on the second floor on the Harris Regional Hospital campus in Sylva.

Slechta, a highly-skilled physician practicing at Sylva Orthopaedic Associates alongside Dr. William Handley, Dr. Lawrence Supik, Dr. Douglas Gates, and Dr. Martin Senicki, will host a question and answer session on the topic of hip replacement at the Nov. 1 Lunch and Learn.

Hannah Hill, PA-C, a certified Physician Assistant at Sylva Orthopaedic Associates, will participate with Dr. Slechta during a short presentation in which he will be discussing the benefits of hip replacement and the options a patient has in relieving pain and restoring independence.

Advance reservations are required to attend the session. Lunch will be served. Call (828) 586-7677 to reserve a spot.

Sylva Orthopaedic Associates has been serving the community for over 30 years treating patients from all over Western North Carolina with board certified physicians committed to providing excellent orthopaedic care using the latest surgical and therapeutic techniques. For more information about Sylva Orthopaedic Associates, call (828) 586-5531 or visit www.sylvaortho.com.

Harris Regional Hospital presenting free ‘Lunch and Learn’ session with orthopaedic surgeon Martin Senicki, DO and Alexis Willey, PA-C October 4

SYLVA, N.C. – Dr. Martin Senicki and physician assistant Alexis Willey with Sylva Orthopaedic Associates will present a free educational session on knee pain and knee replacement at noon on Friday, October 4 in the boardroom on the second floor of Harris Regional Hospital. Lunch is provided.

Senicki, a physician board certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Orthopedic Surgery, graduated from Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. Dr. Senicki served in the USAF Medical Corps and practiced in Denver, Colo. for 15 years before joining Sylva Orthopaedic Associates in 2005. He is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

Alexis Willey

Alexis Willey is a certified physician assistant, having graduated from Marywood University in Scranton, Penn. She is a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants and the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants. Willey joined Sylva Orthopaedic Associates in January 2013 and works with Dr. Senicki.

Senicki and Willey will present a brief program on knee pain and knee replacement, as well as the options for relieving pain and restoring independence.

Please call (828) 631-8889 and leave a message to reserve a spot.

 

MedWest-Harris presenting free knee replacement “Lunch and Learn” with orthopaedic surgeon Lawrence Supik, MD and Robin Pope, Ph.D., PA-C September 6th.

Sylva, N.C. – MedWest-Harris is presenting a free Lunch and Learn session with orthopedic surgeon Lawrence Supik, MD and Robin Pope, Ph. D., PA-C from noon to 1 p.m., Friday, Sept. 6, in the MedWest-Harris board room, located on the second floor on the MedWest-Harris campus in Sylva.

Supik, a physician board certified in orthopaedic and sports medicine, practices at Sylva Orthopaedic Associates alongside Dr. William Handley, Dr. Ryan Slechta, Dr. Douglas Gates, and Dr. Martin Senicki. Dr. Supik, whom is also a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedics, will host a question and answer session on the topic of knee replacement at the Sept. 6 Lunch and Learn.

headshot_Pope_Robin_H_IIIRobin Pope, Ph.D., PA-C, a certified Physician Assistant at Sylva Orthopaedic Associates, will present a brief program discussing the benefits of knee replacement and the options a patient has in relieving pain and restoring independence.

Advance reservations are required to attend the session. Lunch will be served. Call (828) 631-8889 to reserve a spot.

Sylva Orthopaedic Associates has been serving the community for over 30 years treating patients from all over Western North Carolina with board certified physicians committed to providing excellent orthopaedic care using the latest surgical and therapeutic techniques. For more information about Sylva Orthopaedic Associates, call (828) 586-5531 or visit www.sylvaortho.com.

Sylva Orthopaedic Associates welcomes Doug Gates, M.D.

Sylva, N.C. – Sylva Orthopaedic Associates at MedWest-Harris is pleased to welcome Dr. Douglas Gates, who will begin seeing patients at the practice in September.

Dr. Gates completed a fellowship at Triangle Orthopaedic Associates, P.A., in Durham, focusing on the upper extremities including disorders of the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder. After graduating from medical school at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Dr. Gates completed a residency in orthopaedic surgery and additional training in general surgery at UNC Hospital.
Dr. Gates received a resident teaching award for a musculoskeletal course and was inducted into the John B. Graham Medical Student Research Society at the UNC School of Medicine.

At Sylva Orthopaedic Associates, Dr. Gates will practice alongside Larry Supik, MD, Martin Senicki, DO, Ryan Slechta, MD, Jud Handley, MD, and physician assistants Robin Pope, Ph.D., Hannah Hill and Alexis Willey.

Prior to his medical school education and surgical training, Dr. Gates made his living as a furniture maker and potter.  He studied extensively in the fine arts, including completing an apprenticeship in woodworking and graduate training in ceramics.

Dr. Gates has a wonderful wife and two children.  Outside of medicine, he enjoys spending time with his family hiking, coaching soccer and other outdoor activities.

Sylva Orthopaedic Associates is located at MedWest-Harris. For information call 586-5531 or visit www.medwesthealth.org.

Douglas Gates MD -mid

Swain Medical Center welcomes Ben Stepp, M.D.

Bryson City, N.C. – Swain Medical Center is pleased to welcome Dr. Ben Stepp, who will begin seeing patients at the practice in mid-August.

Dr. Stepp completed his family medicine residency at Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) in Asheville. He received his medical degree from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. In medical school, Dr. Stepp was named to the John B. Graham Medical Student Research Society. He is a member of the North Carolina Medical Society and the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, a chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Dr. Stepp joins Mark Engel, MD, David Zimmerman, MD, Jennifer Bunnow, MD, Thomas Bunnow, MD, Frank Van Middlesworth, MD, Randall Castor, MD, Macy Latter, DO and Danny Mingus, PA-C in caring for area residents.

Swain Medical Center is located at MedWest-Swain on Hospital Hill. For information call 488-4205 or visit www.medwesthealth.org.

Ben Stepp, MD-mid