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MAHEC News Archives

Past articles from the media

Battling Opioids on the Frontlines

The Friday evening began just the way Dr. Blake Fagan of the MAHEC-Asheville Family Medicine Residency Program wanted. After a hectic week teaching, seeing patients, and attending to administrative duties every physician loves, unwinding with his family was just what he needed. He glimpsed the start of his call-free weekend as a just reward for navigating another crazy schedule. Then his cell phone rang. Recognizing the number from Mission Hospital in Asheville, he did what many family doctors do on their time off - he answered on the second ring. The news wasn't good. One of Fagan's longtime patients was in the ICU and couldn't be stabilized. He recognized her name instantly, a remnant of having delivered two of her children and knowing her family. His heart sank as he found out more. [read full article]

Local Healthcare Providers Working Together to Reverse Opioid Trend

Medical professionals across the mountains are teaming up to fight addiction. The Western North Carolina Substance Use Alliance began meeting about six months ago and just finalized its strategic plan. The alliance focuses on four key areas:

1. Boosting treatment for pregnant women
2. Strengthening long-term care and treatment for adults
3. Strengthening long-term care and treatment for kids and adolescents
4. Expanding medication assisted treatment

The alliance isn't solely focused on opioids, but they are a major focus. It's part of the alliance's aim to change prescribing habits. Mountain Area Health Education Center hosts 36 residents at a time and has a history of many residents staying in the area as primary care physicians. [read full article]

MAHEC Begins Surgical Residency Program

"There's a big shortage nationally, there's a big shortage in North Carolina and there's a big shortage in Western North Carolina." Mountain Area Health Education Center is trying with precision to turn that around by starting a state-funded General Surgery Residency Program in Asheville. [read full article]



With WNC Doctor Shortage, State Budget Boosts Mountain Medical Training

Rivers Woodward grew up in a small town, but hadn't planned on beginning his medical career in one. That changed when the Franklin native took part in an innovative program at the University of North Carolina's School of Medicine that takes medical students interested in rural medicine away from the Chapel Hill campus to study in Asheville for their final two years of medical school. [read 



Keys to Successful Aging

Ann Mojonnier was traveling in Turkey when she liked the way a wine glass fit in her hand and asked the restaurant owner to sell it to her. Instead, he wrapped up six of them and gave them to her. "I have a glass of wine with dinner every night," says Mojonnier, who's 81, holding the glass up to the light in her kitchen. Traveling is just one of the ways she and her husband, Al, 83, stay engaged. They're planning to visit the Galapagos Islands in June. [read full article]


Doula Program Empowers Women in Need, Supports Expectant Moms
MAHEC collaboration in Pisgah View addresses poverty, infant mortality and racial disparity

Thirteen years ago Nikita Smart gave birth to her daughter with the help of strangers. She and the girl's father had split. Her family lived out of town. So the hospital in Fort Myers, Florida, had a sitter stay in the room during labor. Friends stopped by to check on her, but Smart encouraged them to leave. They had jobs to get to and children to look after. "I was just totally alone," said Smart, who was considered high-risk because of pre-eclampsia, a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure. Smart, 44, is now training to be a doula and leading efforts in Pisgah View and Hillcrest apartments to make sure expecting African-American mothers in those publicly subsidized neighborhoods never feel like help is far away. [read full article]

School Nurse Day Recognizes Improved Health and Learning Outcomes

National School Nurse Day is celebrated on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, and MAHEC is grateful for the many wonderful school nurses that play a vital role in our community. "School nurses do not get enough credit for the crucial and, in some cases life-saving, work they do on a daily basis," says Dr. Jeffery Heck, MAHEC President and CEO. "Every day, parents place the health of their children in the hands of a school nurse, and MAHEC is extremely proud of the skill, hard work, and genuine care each and every one of the nurses display." [read full article]

How the Opioid Crisis Affects Our Healthcare

This is the third article in a series addressing the opioid crisis we are facing in Western North Carolina. The first article defined the problem. There are too many opioids being misused, the drugs can be addictive, and addiction (including to heroin) can lead to overdose and even death. [read full article]



North Carolina First Lady Kristin Cooper to Visit MAHEC

North Carolina First Lady Kristin Cooper will visit the MAHEC Family Health Center at Newbridge on Monday, March 20th at 12:00pm to learn more about the Reach Out and Read program. Reach Out and Read is a national nonprofit that partners with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together, and several MAHEC practices participate in the program. [read full article]


Providers and the Community Response to Opioids

Last month we explored the reasons for the opioid crisis and the serious potential for addiction with the use of opioids. As providers, we have become acutely aware of the crisis because of the exponential rate of opioid overdoses and overdose deaths in our community. [read full article]





MAHEC Yeah!: Adding Up the Mountain Area Health Education Center's Impact on Health Services Across WNC

The next time you see a doctor, dentist, nurse, or other caregiver in Western North Carolina, you might have the Mountain Area Health Education Center to thank. MAHEC was created in 1974 to provide medical care to underserved parts of WNC and encourage health care professionals to stay in the area by offering educational programs, work at medical facilities, and mentoring. [read full article]



Asheville Professionals Help Mothers Birth Healthy Babies

Local professionals agree that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" when it comes to maternal and infant health. And they stress that preventive efforts to improve child health start with maternal health. [read full article]





Three MHS Students Selected for Healthcare Internship

Project PROMISE (Providing Rural Opportunities in Medicine through Inspiring Service and Education) selected three high school seniors from McDowell High School who show authentic interest in a healthcare profession. [read full article]




Lessons of the Opioid Addiction Epidemic

Opioids, which include Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin and morphine, are powerful painkillers. In the past, opioids were mainly used for patients with cancer pain, at the end of life, or after major surgery. But starting about 20 years ago, there was a big push for doctors to prescribe opioids for acute and chronic pain of all types, such as headaches, fibromyalgia, arthritis and back pain. [read full article]




New Bus Stop at MAHEC Should Improve Access

The city transit system has added a bus stop that will serve MAHEC patients. Several MAHEC employees including Dr. Jeffery Heck, MAHEC president and CEO, will celebrate the new stop with a ride on the bus Tuesday morning. [read full article]



Mountain Causes: Doctors Launch Mama Maisha to Help African mothers

There has been a lot of talk lately about making America great again, and there is nothing like living outside the confines of the United States' borders to see what makes this country so special. [read full article]




Mountain Causes: Gardening for Those in Need

Tilling a mulch-covered plot behind the Mountain Area Health Education Center Family Health Center for the first time two summers ago, Dr. Eric Smith and a colleague did not have high expectations for the modest garden they helped create to provide healthy food to needy patients. [read full article]



Project Seeks MHS Seniors for Medical Internships

McDowell High School seniors interested in a health care career will take part in a credit-based internship with local medical providers called Project PROMISE. Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) is assisting with the project as part of its WNC Rural Health Initiative. [read full article]



Residency Reaches Milestone

From delivering babies to managing critical care patients, the Hendersonville Rural Family Medicine Residency Program gives fledging doctors a wide spectrum of hands-on training to serve them in future practice. The program, now in its 20th year, has developed into a highly competitive residency experience that prides itself on being a smaller "rural track" program. [read full article]



Budget Expands Doctor Training in WNC

A budget deal moving through the state General Assembly this week would increase the number of physicians and other health professionals trained in Western North Carolina and decrease tuition paid by students at Western Carolina University. [read full article]



Wanted: Doctors with a Rural Heart

Who wants to be a country doctor? That's the question Robert Bashford has in mind whenever he meets prospective medical students. As associate dean for admissions at the School of Medicine, Bashford is always on the lookout for potential rural doctors for the Kenan Primary Care Medical Scholars Program. "He knows when someone has a rural heart," said Hallum Dickens, a third-year medical student in the program. Dickens grew up in a low-income family in White Level, a rural community in Franklin County, and came to Chapel Hill originally as a Carolina Covenant Scholar. "People who come from underserved communities are more likely to return to practice there." The purpose of the rural physician program is to increase the number of Carolina medical students seeking health careers in rural and underserved areas in North Carolina and to retain them. [read full article]

Asheville Campus to Receive $1M

A retired anesthesiologist plans to give $1 million to the UNC School of Medicine Asheville Campus. The planned estate gift by Dr. Frank Moretz is part of a larger, $3 million gift that will be divided between the Asheville Campus, the UNC Chapel Hill Department of Anesthesiology, and the Department of Psychology at UNC Chapel Hill. It is the first major gift to the Asheville Campus, which opened in 2009. “I was very grateful to the university for accepting me as a medical student years ago,” Moretz said. “The university took a chance on me, and I wanted to pay them back.”  [read full article]