News Archives

Media articles from 2017

Providers Get Training in Emergency Deliveries

"How much do you think is in this first cup?" It's an important question about postpartum hemorrhage to participants in a Basic Life Support in Obstetrics training at MAHEC in Asheville. It's graphic, but knowing how much blood loss is too much is important.

"If we know a mother has lost a lot of blood, we're going to act faster," explains MAHEC OB/GYN Dr. Bre Bolivar.

Everyone from nurses to paramedics to doctors - who don't often encounter delivery - engaged in various simulations, including CPR. Every scenario participants deal with in this class doesn't just involve the mother's safety, but also the child's. [see the full story on WLOS TV-13]


Tis the Season: Ways You Can Prevent the Spread of Illness at Work

It's that time of year when many workplaces are overrun with illness. Eighty percent of workers surveyed by Staples Business Advantage say they come to work sick.

"Especially this time of year, people wanting to save their vacation time or feeling guilty knowing how busy the workplace is going to be, and they don't want to do that to their team members," MAHEC's Clinical Director of Obstetrics Jenie Abbotts said.

In addition to frequent hand washing and de-sanitizing well touched areas, Abbotts recommends employees get plenty of sleep and the flu vaccine. She also says people need to take sick days when they are feeling feverish. [see the full story on WLOS TV-13]


New Maternal Mortality Strategy Relies on 'Medical Homes'

When Hannah White first showed up at the Mountain Area Health Education Center here three years ago, she was in trouble. She was 20 years old, a couple months into her first pregnancy and on the run from an abusive husband. She also has a form of hemophilia which prevents her body from producing platelet granules that stem bleeding. That disease had robbed her of her Malawian mother when Hannah was three months old.

"I was a mess," White recalled when she first showed up at MAHEC, which serves a 16-county area of western North Carolina. "I was worried about the abuse and was having this bleeding and afraid I was going to die or lose my baby.

MAHEC's ob-gyn program is part of a statewide initiative in North Carolina that identifies low-income women whose pregnancies present a high risk to either the baby or mother. [read the full article on HuffPost]


Local Agencies Battle Health Woes of Food Desert in WNC

It may seem odd, but obese children are malnourished, and their lifelong well-being is at risk every bit as much as children who aren't getting enough calories, says registered dietitian Fred Stichel of MAHEC Family Health.

"Mal" means bad, he continues. And malnourishment affects both the underweight and the obese.

Too often, the cause of malnourishment is that families live in what's known as a food desert, where getting nutritious food is difficult. The only store within striking distance for someone who doesn't have access to a car might be the corner gas station convenience store. [read full article]


Supporting Moms Expecting Recovery in Pregnancy

Marie Gannon, Mel Ramage and Denise Weegar sit down with the co-hosts of A Mindful Emergence to discuss the needs of pregnant women struggling with opioid and substance use disorders and their innovative approach to meeting these needs through Project CARA's perinatal substance use disorder clinic at MAHEC's Ob/Gyn Specialists.

This hour-long conversation addresses the triple stigma pregnant mothers face, neonatal abstinence syndrome, the importance of the mother-baby dyad, trauma-informed support, medication-assisted therapy, and Project CARA's holistic community-based approach to recovery and mother-baby health. [listen to radio show #93]


New TRACES Program Helps Moms and Babies Suffering From Opioid Epidemic

Cassie Tipton York, a native of Bakersville, gave an impassioned public presentation last month at Mitchell High School in honor of Overdose Awareness Day.

Cassie told Avery, Mitchell and Yancey county officials and residents that she lost almost everything to opioid and methamphetamine addiction including her children, her home and even her freedom.

"Addiction doesn't make any sense," Cassie shares. "Nobody plans addiction. But you definitely need a plan, and a lot of support, to recover from it." [read full article]


What to Expect When You're Expecting Recovery

"Why do people like you have children?" Ashley can still remember the shame she felt when confronted by this question in the hospital just hours after she gave birth to her son. The harsh judgment didn't come from a fellow patient but from someone providing her care.

"This is exactly the kind of response that makes mothers hide their addiction," she shares. "When women can't even get support from medical professionals, but instead get shamed, getting high can feel like the only option. It's a vicious cycle." [continue reading]


Asheville Agencies Address Complexities of Opioid Addiction and Treatment

At MAHEC, obstetrics practitioners ask women whether they have used drugs.

"Five years ago or five minutes ago, it doesn't matter," says family nurse practitioner Melinda Ramage. "We're not here to judge. We're here to help."

Too often, women with substance use disorders live under the threat of losing their babies and landing in jail.

"How do you expect a woman who has had her baby taken away to react?" says Dr. Blake Fagan, chief education officer for the Mountain Area Health Education Center. "She's going to be depressed, and that's going to increase her chances of using and of suicide. [read full article]


Cooper Advocates a Multi-Pronged Approach to Addressing Opioid Addiction

Gov. Roy Cooper came to Asheville on Thursday to proclaim September as Drug and Alcohol Recovery Month in the state and to pledge his support for efforts that would effectively increase access to treatment for substance use disorder.

"Every day in North Carolina, four people die from opioid overdose," Cooper said before reading and signing the declaration. "Nationally, more people die from accidental overdoses than die in car accidents."

Educating doctors about the best ways to prescribe pain medications and educating the public about how dangerous opioids can be is another important factor in the battle to control the epidemic, said Dr. Jeff Heck, CEO of the Mountain Area Health Education Center. [read full article]


AHEC Brings New Doctor to Yancey/Mitchell

Jessica White, MD, began a yearlong Rural Family Medicine Fellowship through MAHEC on September 4, 2017 when she joined the Mountain Community Health Partnership. She sees patients mainly at Celo Health Center but also at Bakersville Community Health Center sites in Spruce Pine and Bakersville. White did not start out on a path to medicine, but a career in photojournalism put her in direct contact with a rural population with needs that were not being met. Although t here was value in telling their stories, she felt there was more she could do to better their situation. "I wanted to do something that was more directly of service to the community, and it just seemed like rural medicine was a good fit," says White. [read full article]


Buncombe School Officers Equipped to Reverse ODs

About 10 officers in Buncombe County's middle and high schools were trained Wednesday on how to administer opioid overdose-reversal kits, also known as Narcan. It's the first time county schools will have naloxone nasal spray, which can reverse an overdose and almost instantly bring a victim back to sobriety. Now, school officers will join campus nurses among those able to administer naloxone. Officials said as the opioid epidemic has worsened, schools across North Carolina have decided to carry the Narcan kits to stop children from falling victim. Local schools have even heard requests from parents to carry naloxone, said Alice Elio, school health program manager at Mountain Area Health Education Center. [read full article]


Rural Fellowships Bring More Doctors to Haywood County

Drs. Paulette Doiron, MD, and Kelly Garcia, MD, began a year-long Maternal Child Health Fellowship through MAHEC in July at Haywood Health Center, where they plan to stay and practice upon completion. They are both excited to serve a rural area and population and help fill the shortage of primary care physicians. "It just seems unfair that people have to drive so far to see a doctor, can hardly afford to pay one when they get there, and not be able to find one closer that they trust," said Garcia. "I hope that by going out there, I can make a difference." They both have a love for obstetrics and pediatrics, but ultimately decided they did not want to be limited in the patients they could serve. Practicing family medicine in a rural area gives them the opportunity to treat the entire family. [read full article]


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]


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