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National Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment continues, important deadline approaches

Sylva, NC – Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital are continuing to remind individuals without health insurance coverage that the national Health Insurance Marketplace is currently open for enrollment and re-enrollment. For those wishing to have coverage begin or continue starting January 1, 2015, the enrollment or re-enrollment deadline is Monday, December 15.
The Marketplace offers enrollment in affordable health coverage suitable to individuals’ and families’ unique health care needs. Obtaining health insurance coverage is important for many reasons. Coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace has many benefits, including:
• Coverage of costs for treatment of unexpected illness or injury.
• Paying less for coverage of in-network health care.
• Free preventive care, such as vaccines, screenings, and check-ups, even before meeting a deductible.
Individuals can enroll or re-enroll in Marketplace coverage at
For those re-enrolling, it is important to review information and make any necessary changes, such as income, household members, and eligibility for other insurance. This updated information will provide new eligibility results that can affect costs, health coverage programs for which individuals qualify, potential savings, and plan choices for 2015.
For those choosing to stay in the same plan, re-enrollment still must occur by December 15, 2014, unless the individual’s plan features automatic re-enrollment.
For assistance enrolling or re-enrolling, contact Marketplace representatives at 1-888-982-9144, or Harris Regional Hospital’s Certified Application Counselors at 828-586-7355. Information can also be found at or by emailing

Free Lunch & Learns to be offered at Swain County Hospital Starting December 18th

Bryson City – Swain County Hospital and Swain County Health Department are partnering to promote health and wellness in our communities by beginning a monthly Lunch and Learn Series. The first one will be held Thursday, December 18th from noon to 12:30 pm. The topic will be “Getting Fit” and what resources are available in Swain County that help support physical activity and healthy living. The Lunch and Learns will be held in the Swain Medical Park (Old Hospital Hill Pharmacy Location). A light lunch will be offered free of charge to those in attendance.

The series will be held in December, February, April, June and August. The dates and topics for each month are as follows:

February 19th – Healthy Heart, Focus will be on general heart healthy behaviors and diet

April 16th – Stress Management, Learning and practicing stress management techniques

June 18th – Summer Safety, Tips for safe summer living

August 20th – Back to School – Healthy Families, Family Wellness and preparing for school to begin

Please make plans to attend these educational settings. If you would like more information contact Melanie Batchelor at 828-586-7734 or email

Harris Medical Park to celebrate new providers and additions with community holiday open house event

Sylva, NC – Harris Medical Park will host a holiday open house with a special opportunity to meet and talk with physicians and mid-level providers on Tuesday, December 9 from 5 – 7pm.
Harris Medical Park is located at 98 Doctors Drive in Sylva, on the campus of Harris Regional Hospital, and is home to six physician practices of varying specialties, as well as imaging and lab services and a women’s health center. The open house event will provide community members with a special opportunity to meet and talk with providers, tour the practices and treatment areas, see equipment upgrades, and learn more about the care provided at Harris Medical Park.
Harris Medical Park is celebrating an eventful year, welcoming several new physicians and adding new, state-of-the-art equipment within practices and the imaging center.
The primary care practice Sylva Medical Center recently welcomed family practitioner Dr. Ana Maria Gonzalez, who joined internal medicine physicians Dr. Randall Provost, Dr. Elizabeth Dixon, Dr. Steve Queen, and Dr. Leeann Manthorne, and began seeing patients in the practice in September.
Dr. James C. Smallwood’s practice Mountain Regional Gynecology recently expanded to include obstetrics, welcoming skilled obstetricians Dr. Mila Shah-Bruce and Dr. Megan Metcalf in August and was re-named Mountain Regional OB/GYN. The expansion also included the addition of new, state-of-the art in-office imaging and diagnostic equipment, including a GE Voluson E6 ultrasound machine which provides 3D and 4D images of babies in the womb, offering the highest quality of in utero images available. The quality of the images allows for diagnosis of abnormalities such as cleft pallet and spinal defects, helping prepare parents and often allowing for treatment in the womb, as well as an up-close look at babies’ faces and the ability to determine gender accurately. The new ultrasound equipment also provides the ability to perform trans-vaginal ultrasounds in the office that are much less painful than traditional equipment and provide 3D and 4D images that are essential to many diagnoses which previously required separate procedures and sometimes sedation. The ability to perform these diagnostic imaging procedures in the office often shortens the care process and may reduce charges for the patient. Mountain Regional OB/GYN is located on the third floor of the medical park and same-day appointments in the practice are often available.
WNC Pediatric and Adolescent Associates welcomed Dr. Nicholas Jernigan last winter, joining Dr. Charles Toledo and Dr. Brooke Budde in caring for babies, children, and teens. The practice is located on the third floor of the medical park across from general surgeons Dr. William Sims and Amy Sims, NP practicing at Mountain Valley Surgery and Dr. Billy Noell practicing at Paragon Surgical. Urologists Dr. Jerome Marchuk and Dr. Thomas O’Neill practice at Mountain Care Urology, located on the first floor of the medical park.
The women’s health center, also on the first floor of Harris Medical Park, adds another level of convenience in care, providing comprehensive breast care services, including digital mammography and stereotactic imaging for breast biopsy. Breast Cancer Nurse Navigator Carol VanCleve, RN also works in the center and sees patients throughout their treatment process, providing expertise and guidance beginning with the biopsy and diagnosis phase. In addition to mammography, a full range of imaging services is available at the medical park, including bone densitometry, ultrasound, MRI, and diagnostic radiology. Laboratory services are also available, adding convenience for patients who need same-day lab work.
Community members are invited to attend the open house to meet and talk with providers and celebrate the holiday season. Families are invited to bring children to visit and take photos with Santa Claus, who will be on-site for the event. For more information, visit or call (828) 631-8924.

LifePath Palliative Care and Hospice to hold special “Tree of Remembrance” memorial celebration on Friday, December 5

Sylva, N.C. – LifePath Palliative Care and Hospice, which serves the communities of Harris Regional and Swain County Hospitals, will hold a special memorial celebration entitled “Tree of Remembrance” on Friday, December 5 in the main lobby of Harris Regional Hospital at 6pm.

All community members are invited to attend to celebrate the lives of family members, friends, and loved ones who are no longer with us. The celebration will include special music, readings, and stories all focused around honoring and remembering our loved ones, with an opportunity to place butterfly ornaments on the Tree of Remembrance in memory of loved ones. A tree lighting ceremony will also take place during the event.

The tree will remain in place throughout the month of December and community members, patients, and staff are all welcome to place ornaments on the tree at any time.

LifePath Palliative Care and Hospice has been serving the community with the highest quality of end-of-life care to Jackson and surrounding counties for over 20 years. Board-certified palliative medicine specialist Dan Mackey, MD joined the LifePath team in the spring of this year and oversees LifePath’s clinical operations with direct involvement in each patient case. Mackey also sees patients from throughout the region as part of a palliative care clinic focused around treating rare, non-curative illnesses.

For more information on the event or on the services offered by LifePath, visit or call (828) 631-1702.

Harris Regional Hospital to host special evening event in partnership with Project Lazarus on Tuesday, December 2

Sylva, NC – Harris Regional Hospital will host the December “Tuesdays to Thrive” session featuring the Jackson County Substance Abuse Action Team (SAAT) as they present the Project Lazarus model. The event, which is open to all community members, is part of a year-long series of wellness events in partnership with Jackson County Department of Public Health held the first Tuesday of each month. December’s session will be held Tuesday, December 2 from 6 – 7pm in the main lobby of Harris Regional Hospital.

The Project Lazarus model is focused around prescription drug abuse education and the effects of overdose in local communities. Project Lazarus coalition leader Charles Easton and member Dale Galloway will present on these topics, specifically focusing on the burden of prescription overdose, as well as prevention efforts such as taking prescription drugs correctly, storing them securely, and disposing properly while never sharing. Harris Regional Hospital Emergency Department staff will co-lead the session, discussing how prescription drug abuse and overdose affect the hospital.

Representatives from the Jackson County Sherriff’s Office and Sylva Police Department will be on-site, making the session an official “Take Back” event, where individuals can safely turn in prescription drugs to law enforcement with no penalty. The first 15 event attendees will also receive a free medication lock box for home use.

Project Lazarus is a secular public health non-profit organization established in 2008 in response to extremely high drug overdose death rates in Wilkes County, North Carolina. Project Lazarus has since expanded to include coalitions in counties throughout North Carolina, helping enable overdose prevention by providing technical assistance to create and maintain community coalitions, creating locally tailored drug overdose prevention programs, and connecting coalitions to state and national resources.
Refreshments and door prizes will be available during the event. No reservations are necessary.

Tuesdays to Thrive is a series of events held the first Tuesday of each month in the main lobby at Harris Regional Hospital from 6-7pm. Each event is focused around learning valuable information, preventative tips, and evidence-based practices about important and timely health topics like diabetes, breast health, asthma and allergies, cancer prevention, healthy eating, and more.

A full calendar of Tuesdays to Thrive events and more information on December’s event can be found at, or by calling Harris Regional Hospital wellness coordinator Melanie Batchelor at 828-586-7734.

Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital provide resources for National Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment

Sylva, N.C – Health Insurance Marketplaces opened for enrollment across the country on Saturday, November 15 and will remain open until February 15, 2015. Individuals and families can enroll and gain access to affordable, comprehensive healthcare coverage during the open enrollment period.

For those new to the enrollment or re-enrollment process, Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital can help by providing access to a Certified Application Counselor (CAC) working onsite at the hospitals and assisting with the application process. The CACs are available for phone or personal appointments by calling (828) 586-7735 or toll-free at 1-888-982-9144 or by emailing

The Health Insurance Marketplace offers expanded access to low-cost healthcare coverage for people without health insurance or for those who are interested in exploring more cost-effective alternatives to their current coverage.
While there are several types of plans and levels of coverage available, there is a core set of essential health benefits that are covered by every plan in the Marketplace. These include:

• Ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital)
• Emergency services
• Hospitalization
• Maternity and newborn care
• Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavorial health treatment such as counseling and psychotherapy
• Prescription drugs
• Rehabilitative services and devices that help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills
• Laboratory services
• Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
• Pediatric services

Coverage options can be reviewed and obtained through the Health Insurance Marketplace online at Certified Application Counselors (CACs) are available through Harris and Swain’s Patient Financial Services department to help individuals navigate the application process, re-enroll, or make changes to their Marketplace coverage, and understand the options that best match their health care needs.

For those who are re-enrolling, it is recommended that existing plans be reviewed and assessed as to whether the plan still meets the need of the individual, paying close attention to plan changes and premiums, and whether the individual’s physician and preferred hospital are still in the plan. Those who enrolled last year should receive notices from both the Marketplace and the insurance company providing an overview of action steps for re-enrollment.

For those wishing to enroll in coverage that will take effect on January 1, 2015, the enrollment deadline is December 15, 2014. This deadline also applies to those who are reviewing coverage and re-enrolling, as 2014 coverage ends on December 31, 2014.
For more information, contact Harris Regional Hospital or Swain County Hospital at 586-7355 or our toll-free enrollment line at 1-888-982-9144, visit, or email

Hospitals celebrate National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, hold events focused on end-of-life care decisions

Sylva, N.C. – This month, LifePath Palliative Care and Hospice, serving the communities of Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital, is celebrating National Hospice and Palliative Care Month with two opportunities to meet palliative care and hospice staff and discuss the importance of end-of-life care decisions and how to make personal care wishes known.
The sessions, which will focus on legal end-of-life care decisions called Advance Directives, will be held on Tuesday, November 11 at the Jackson County Public Library from 4 – 7pm and on Thursday, November 13 from 11am – 2pm in the main lobby at Harris Regional Hospital. LifePath staff will be available at both of these sessions to answer questions and to assist individuals in completing Advance Directives, which can be determined by an individual at any point in life instructing a person’s loved ones and caregivers on how he or she would like to be cared for.

Also available at both sessions will be representatives from the North Carolina Partnership for Compassionate Care, a division of the North Carolina Medical Society whose mission is to ensure that patients’ end-of-life care decisions are openly discussed, documented, and honored by providing educational resources to the community and health care professionals.

LifePath Palliative Care and Hospice has been serving the community with the highest quality of end-of-life care to Jackson and surrounding counties for over 20 years. Board-certified palliative medicine specialist Dan Mackey, MD joined the LifePath team in the spring of this year and oversees LifePath’s clinical operations with direct involvement in each patient case. Mackey also sees patients from throughout the region as part of a palliative care clinic focused around treating rare, non-curative illnesses.

In addition to the Advance Directive sessions, LifePath will hold a volunteer training on Saturday, November 15 from 8am – 4:30pm at the LifePath office, located at 26 WestCare Drive, Suite 301 in Sylva. Many areas of volunteer opportunity in Jackson, Swain, Graham, and Macon counties are available through LifePath, including supporting patients and families at home, providing administrative support, assisting with projects, helping provide grief support, and providing spiritual care. Completion of LifePath volunteer training is required for those wishing to volunteer.

For more information on Advance Directives events, volunteer training, or to inquire whether palliative or hospice care may be right for you or your loved one, contact LifePath at 828-631-1702.

Harris Regional Hospital celebrates new primary care clinic space at WCU, National Nurse Practitioner Week

WCU Openhouse-1Sylva, N.C – Harris Regional Hospital will hold a special community open house event at the Center for Family Medicine – Cullowhee clinic, on Thursday, November 13 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at the clinic, which is located on the lower level of Western Carolina University’s new acclaimed Health and Human Sciences Building.

CFM – Cullowhee is open to the community and is staffed by Family Nurse Practitioner Patti Sparling who has practiced with Center for Family Medicine – Franklin since 2004. The clinic opened last month and provides the full spectrum of primary and acute services, seeing patients of all ages with same-day appointments available. In addition to providing more convenient primary care access to residents of Cullowhee and those who work in the area, CFM – Cullowhee provides referrals for lab and imaging procedures and appointments with specialists at Harris Regional Hospital.

The open house will allow visitors to view the new clinic space, which is adjacent to Carolina West Sports Medicine’s full-service rehabilitation clinic on the first floor of the HHS Building, as well as provide an opportunity to meet and talk with Sparling and learn more about the clinic’s offerings and the nurse practitioner profession.

November 9 – 15 is National Nurse Practitioner Week, when the work and dedication of Nurse Practitioners is celebrated on a national scale, drawing attention to the excellent care they provide patients each day as licensed, expert clinicians with advanced education and extensive clinical preparation in providing primary, acute, and specialty health care. Nurse practitioners account for 192,000 of the nation’s licensed health care providers, offering not only a full range of services, but working as partners with their patients and guiding them to make educated care decisions and healthy lifestyle choices.

Sparling, a graduate of WCU’s family nurse practitioner program, works closely with current family nurse practitioner students, providing the ability to learn in an active clinical practice under the direction of Dr. Tami Pearson, who oversees the university program. The clinic was born from a partnership between Harris Regional Hospital and WCU created to utilize expertise and relationship with the strategic goal of providing convenient, quality health care in Jackson and surrounding counties.

“WCU offers excellent clinical education programs which are invaluable to us in providing world class care, as evidenced by skilled practitioners like Patti,” said Steve Heatherly, Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital president and CEO. “We’re thrilled not only to be able to hire WCU graduates and benefit from their training, but to now also have a fully-operational clinic that serves community members in their clinical training facility.”

The open house event is free and open to the public and will feature refreshments. For more information about the event, or to schedule an appointment, call 631-8800.

WCU’s Health and Human Sciences Building is located at 4121 Little Savannah Road in Cullowhee. Center for Family Medicine – Cullowhee is located on the first floor of the building.

Mountain GI Associates welcomes Melanie Denny, FNP-BC

Melanie DennySylva, N.C – Harris Regional Hospital is pleased to welcome board-certified family nurse practitioner Melanie Denny to Mountain GI Associates.

Denny joins gastroenterologist Randall Savell, MD at the practice, bringing a wide range of skills and experience in caring for patients both as a nurse and a nurse practitioner. She began seeing patients at the practice on October 20.

Having received multiple honors and having graduated with distinction from both the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and Duke University with a Master of Science in Nursing degree, Denny earned her Family Nurse Practitioner degree from the University of Virginia in 2013 and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

Having formerly served in both the United States Air Force and the United States Army, Denny’s clinical experience includes multiple nursing supervisor roles, including positions at military support hospitals in Iraq, Kosovo, and Germany, as well as Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, where she served as nurse case manager for Warriors in Transition. Denny’s experience includes caring for critically ill and severely injured patients in combat zones, as well as serving on infection control, sedation, and medical management teams. She most recently practiced as a pediatric nurse practitioner in Wilmington, NC, and a family nurse practitioner in Franklin, NC.

Denny is certified by the American Heart Association in Basic and Advanced Cardiac Life Support, as well as Pediatric Advanced Life Support and has completed the Newborn Resuscitation Program. She is also a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and the Army Nurse Corps Association, as well as several other professional organizations and national honor societies.

Denny is skilled in assessing patients of all ages, managing the full spectrum of acute and chronic conditions through the use of diagnostic lab and imaging technology, and working with practitioners in a wide variety of specialties to ensure continuity of care. She is also passionate about patient education and preventive care.

Dr. Randall Savell has been serving the community with gastrointestinal care for more than 20 years. Savell graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine and completed an internship at the U.S. Air Force Medical Center – Keesler AFB in Biloxi, MS, and completed his residency at Tulane University School of Medicine.

Denny joins Savell in specializing in the full range of gastrointestinal care.

Mountain GI Associates is located at 137 Medical Park Loop in Sylva, between Eastgate Plaza and Harris Regional Hospital and is open 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. To make an appointment, call 631-8840. For more information, visit or

Harris Regional & Swain County Hospitals honor 16 employees for service milestones

Sylva, N.C. – A lunch ceremony was recently held at Harris Regional Hospital honor 13 employees for their years of service on the Harris, Swain and Franklin campuses.

The employees were recognized for milestones ranging from five to 30 years and collectively represented 190 years of service to the hospitals and associated physician practices. 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: Jackie Awtrey, patient registrar; Susie Blackwell, patient registrar; Tiffany Councill, Nurse Practitioner, Mountain GI Associates; Amie Gainor, medical office assistant, WNC Pulmonary; Jen Murray, food and nutrition supervisor; Ryan Slechta, MD, Sylva Orthopaedic Associates.

10 Years: Amy Hedden, RN, Harris orthopaedics unit; Mary Curtis McCracken, sports medicine and rehabilitation manager; Loretta Sequoyah, mammography technician; Lori Yerse, RN, director, Harris Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Center.

15 Years: Darlene Brooks, CT technician, Harris imaging; Carol Hood, medical office assistant, Center for Family Medicine – Franklin.

20 Years: Elizabeth Dixon, MD, Sylva Medical Center; Stephanie Sutton, Harris grill cook/cashier; Marcell Woodard, medical office assistant, Sylva Medical Center.

30 Years: Rita Moss, Nurse Practitioner, Harris hospitalist program.

“It’s an honor to recognize the dedication and longstanding service of our staff members,” said Steve Heatherly, president and CEO, Harris Regional and Swain County Hospitals.  “These awards exemplify the commitment of outstanding staff members who represent multiple areas of discipline within our facilities, all contributing to the unified goal of a world-class patient and family experience.”

Service awards luncheons are held quarterly at Harris Regional Hospital.