Read Our Stories
Once a nurse, always a nurse
Once a nurse, always a nurse. At least that’s how it’s worked for Barbara. She started her nursing career at age 16 as what was then called a “Nursing Assistant” at Mission St. Joseph’s Hospital. Eventually she retired from MAHEC Ob/Gyn Specialists in 2013, but she still has her LPN license.
Having worked her whole life as a nurse, it wasn’t easy to step away. It was about a year before she came back to MAHEC as a volunteer. Every Tuesday from 8-12, Barbara can be found gliding from patient to patient in the waiting room. She checks in with how they’re doing, takes the time to listen, provides reassurance, and sometimes just sits with those who need someone by their side.
“We don’t know where that patient’s been when they walk through that door,” she says. “I hope they get the feeling that they’re important, that they’re not taken for granted, and that we’re glad they’re here.”
There’s something special about Barbara. It’s not uncommon for a patient to tell her something they may not be comfortable sharing with even their doctor. She always makes sure to pass on anything the doctor may need to know in order for the patient to get the best care possible. And it’s happened more than once that she’s recognized as having been someone’s nurse from back when she was working. She leaves that kind of impression on people. Perhaps it’s the way she tries to think of others.
“There’s something good about everybody,” she says. “You might have to look a little bit, but you’ll find it.”
Needless to say, you don’t have to look very far with Barbara.
Saving a family India arrived for her scheduled cesarean section feeling some normal pre-surgery jitters as she had experienced a minor hemorrhage with her previous child, but could never imagine the severity in store for her this time around. She lost 6.5 liters of blood – her entire blood volume. MAHEC cares for the highest risk OB patients and helped initiate and put in place an OB hemorrhage protocol at Mission Hospital to care for patients just like India. Dr. Bre Bolivar, Ob/Gyn Hospitalist on faculty at MAHEC Ob/Gyn Specialists, is on the OB Hemorrhage Team and was well-prepared for India when she arrived.
“When there’s a severe hemorrhage like this, you really need a team-based approach,” says Dr. Bolivar. “Everybody needs to be on the same page on how to take care of these patients. I was really happy that it all went the way it was planned and the protocol worked the way it should have.”
And no one is happier that Dr. Bolivar heard the calling to medicine than India and her family. She feels like she found a family in the team that kept her alive and will never forget it. “I think about it every day,” she says. “I thank God every day that I’m alive and can see these kids.”
MAHEC intern on path to healthcare
During his summer internship with MAHEC, UNC Asheville senior Alex Green learned about the impact a great health professional can have on a community—not just by providing care, but also by displaying leadership. “While in May, I really thought I’m going to be a dentist and nothing else, now [after this internship], I’m thinking I’m going to be a dentist who has his hand in, always trying to affect the community, to give back in a way that’s greater than just practicing medicine.” Green was so inspired at MAHEC that he continued his work for credit at UNCA this past fall, speaking to high school students about the importance of returning to rural communities when they are first contemplating career paths and encouraging them to follow in his footsteps.
Women’s Health embraces Centering Pregnancy®
Imagine a room filled with expectant mothers and fathers seated in a circle talking about their pregnancy, learning about nutrition or preterm labor, asking questions of each other and their doctor. This is an empowering model for prenatal care called Centering Pregnancy® that combines prenatal assessments with peer support and education. Women learn about their changing bodies, and families form lasting relationships as they face one of the most transformative experiences of their lives: pregnancy. Amanda Murphy, CNM, is MAHEC’s Centering Pregnancy® Coordinator and Director. “The group has such a deep knowledge base, deeper than any of them realize,” Murphy says. “So when I’m sitting in group, and I hear mothers talking to other mothers about what they are experiencing and what they have found helps or doesn’t, that’s what it’s all about.”
MAHEC residents practice full-scope medicine
When asked to describe MAHEC, first-year family medicine resident Margarette Shegog, MD, likens the organization to a patchwork quilt. “MAHEC is lots of different pieces, colors, textures, and fabrics that come together to make this beautiful creation that also keeps you warm,” Dr. Shegog says. “It’s an environment supportive of experience outside medical knowledge,” she says. Before entering into medical school in Ohio, Dr. Shegog already had been a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia and southern Africa, where she firsthand saw the devastation of HIV in rural villages. She then continued on to travel India as an America-India Service Corps Fellow.
"Without her, we wouldn't have this baby," said Kat. "She gave me my miracle baby."
Kat and John wanted a baby, but with three traumatic miscarriages they had nearly given up hope. Kat was referred to MAHEC’s Women’s Health Team and on the day of her first prenatal visit Kat thought she was having another miscarriage. John told her to go to MAHEC instead of the emergency room.
“It was nerve wracking and I was terrified to death. I thought I was miscarrying, but she [Dr. Warren] told me it was okay,” Kat said. “She is the first one who took the time to talk with me. She was always patient and understanding. Dr. Warren helped me get through and everyone can’t believe I did it.”
“It is really special to be able to go to a doctor like that,” said John. “They know how to explain things. They are caring. We’re really glad to go somewhere they show so much care, because it’s special to us to have this baby. The care there is extraordinary.”
"This is the place to be if you want to gain, not just medical knowledge, but also valuable life experience," said Chan.
Yu Kwan Chan, MD, Family Medicine Resident, starting a ‘Walk with a Doc’ community project
In choosing my training program, I wanted a place teemed with scientific minds and confident, yet humble and loving attitudes that I can be influenced by. I have certainly found such people in this place that I have grown to love and enjoy.
This spring I will start a ‘Walk With a Doc’ effort to meet patients outside the walls of clinical healthcare. The goal is to use the outdoor environment as a gateway to conversations about health, while participating in a low-impact exercise program. My vision is to share time with patients without the confines of the office environment to walk and talk about managing chronic disease, smoking cessation, or weight loss.”
"I think it's incredibly valuable as we train to provide full spectrum medical care, to know the community and understand its needs..."
Liza Young, MD, Family Medicine Resident, providing women's healthcare at a methadone clinic
"During college, I became interested in medicine by volunteering at a HIV/AIDS nursing home. I was fascinated in the ways in which the disease affected the patients' physical, mental, emotional, and social well being. I have carried this interest in caring for a community with me throughout medical school and residency.
That is how I became involved with the project at local methadone clinics. I’ve really enjoyed being able to get out of the MAHEC clinic and be more involved with the community. Meeting the women at the methadone clinic has been invaluable. We were planning to provide women with contraception, but we quickly realized there was so much more we could provide. Now we are helping them access basic women’s healthcare, like pap smears and mammograms, that they otherwise might not get.”