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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.

Harris Regional Hospital to host special evening event focused on diabetes awareness, prevention, and treatment Tuesday, November 4

Sylva, NC – Harris Regional Hospital will host the November “Tuesdays to Thrive” session focused around diabetes awareness, prevention, and treatment as part of a year-long series of wellness events in partnership with Jackson County Department of Public Health. The event is open to the public and will take place on Tuesday, November 4 from 6-7 p.m. in the main lobby of Harris Regional Hospital.

A panel of experts consisting of wound care specialist Nancy Peneff, NP, Harris Regional Hospital Diabetes Educator Melanie Batchelor, MHS, RD, LDN, CDE, and Jackson County Department of Public Health Diabetes Educator Lee Lillard, MHS, RD, LDN, CDE, will weigh in on the best ways to prevent, treat, and manage diabetes and will answer questions.

The hour-long event is free and open to the public. Free blood glucose screenings accompanied by a professional assessment will be available for the first thirty attendees. In addition, those attending will have an opportunity to complete an American Diabetes Association risk assessment based on lifestyle and genetic factors, as well as learn more about nutrition and exercise as they relate to diabetes.

Harris Regional Hospital Diabetes Educator Melanie Batchelor also provides one-on-one consultation with diabetic patients. Education sessions are typically one hour and focus on specific questions of the individual to enhance self-management of diabetes. Most insurance carriers reimburse for the service, with a signed physician referral. Melanie will be available at the event to schedule sessions with anyone who is interested.

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 November’s event can be found at For more information on diabetes consultations, call Melanie Batchelor at 828-586-7734.

Safe driving program “VIP for a VIP” impacts students in partnership with EMS and local law enforcement

Sylva, N.C. – Harris Regional Hospital provides Emergency Medical Services for Jackson County and was pleased last week to participate in a safe driving program for students. “Vehicle Injury Prevention for a Very Important Person”, a program targeted toward young adults, visited Smoky Mountain High School on Thursday, October 9. The Guilford County-based program partnered with local law enforcement, fire departments, and rescue organizations, including Harris Regional Hospital EMS, to present an informative and moving program to young drivers in an effort to promote motor vehicle safety and prevent fatal accidents.

EMS Training Officer Zach Stutts spoke to students during a morning session of the program on Thursday about the hazards of driving while texting or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Stutts, along with a panel of law enforcement and rescue personnel, encouraged students to consider all risks associated with unsafe driving habits and presented facts and figures directly related to fatalities of young drivers in North Carolina during the last several years.

The afternoon session of “VIP for a VIP” was held outside and involved a dramatic, real-time reenactment of a vehicle accident involving a teenager exactly as it might happen. The reenactment gave students a look into the perspective of all those who would be involved, including a nearby pedestrian, first responders, law enforcement, highway patrol, emergency medical care workers, and the driver’s parents and friends.

EMS Director Steven Rice participated in the reenactment as an Emergency Medical Technician arriving on the scene of the wreck, along with Stutts.

“As those involved in emergency situations involving vehicles on a daily basis, we want to do everything possible to educate our community, especially young people, about the hazards and consequences of unsafe driving habits,” Rice said. “While we are dedicated to being there as quickly as possible when something happens, our greatest desire is that we don’t get the call in the first place. Programs like “VIP for a VIP” help to ensure that.”

Following the program, students were asked to complete and sign two contracts, one commiting to a “zero tolerance” for drugs and alcohol, and one entitled “VIP contract for the life of a VIP”, with which, by signing, students promised to abide by certain safety measures to ensure welfare while operating a vehicle.

“Our Emergency Medical Services team is highly trained to respond to motor vehicle accidents and work quickly to provide care for those involved, but it is our hope that accidents are prevented at all costs,” said Anetra Jones, Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital Chief Nurse Executive. “We were honored to participate in this program and to play a role in the prevention of potential accidents.”

“VIP for a VIP” is dedicated to students who have lost their lives in vehicle accidents, believing that through young adult driver safety programs and strong community support, young adult traffic fatalities can be reduced.

Harris Regional Hospital EMS provides emergency care in Jackson and surrounding counties. For more information on EMS services,

Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital prepared for Ebola

Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital are working closely with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure our hospitals are prepared with the appropriate plans to detect, protect and respond should anyone in our community contract or be exposed to the Ebola virus.  While we have not treated any patients with Ebola at our hospitals, and there have been no confirmed cases in North Carolina, Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital have taken the following measures to prepare:

*         Triage and admission assessments have been revised to include questions regarding travel to high risk areas, as well as recent contact with people from those areas.
*         Notices have been placed at entrances asking anyone who has a fever and has traveled outside the country, or who has had exposure to an international traveler to notify staff.
*         Dedicated isolation rooms have been designated for patients who may have been exposed to Ebola and protective gear has been provided for our employees.

Staff members at Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital are taking additional preparedness steps by participating in a drill exercise focused on the hospitals’ response in the event Ebola becomes present in our community. Staff members are also joining regional training sessions on specific precautionary safety measures related to treatment.

“Ongoing readiness is part of our culture of safety at Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital regardless of the issue or potential threat. We are monitoring the Ebola outbreak on a daily basis and are aligned with national, state and local resources in our preparedness planning,” said Steve Heatherly, president and CEO of Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital.

“Our staff is trained and prepared to manage outbreaks of viruses and infectious diseases, including Ebola. We want to assure the community that we are taking the appropriate precautionary measures to keep our employees, visitors, and community safe and prevent the spread of this virus,” said Anetra Jones, chief nurse executive for the hospitals.

For more information visit or or call the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Ebola hotline at1-800-222-1222.

LifePath Palliative Care & Hospice seeking volunteers, offering training

Sylva, N.C. –LifePath Palliative Care & Hospice of Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital is seeking volunteers for the LifePath team to assist in supporting patients under palliative care or hospice treatment, and is offering a special volunteer training session in November.

Those wishing to volunteer can choose from multiple areas of opportunity, including supporting patients and families in their place of residence, providing administrative support in the LifePath office, assisting with hospice projects, contacting bereaved families to help provide grief support, and providing spiritual care. LifePath volunteers are free to choose how much time they will commit and are given the opportunity to schedule visits with patients at their convenience.

Completion of LifePath volunteer training is required for those wishing to volunteer. The next volunteer training session will be held Saturday, November 15th from 8:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. at the LifePath office, located at 26 WestCare Drive, Suite 301, Sylva.

To sign up for the volunteer training sessions or for more information, contact Lauren Stafford at 828-631-1702.

Harris Regional Hospital hosting reception on October 10 to dedicate Tree of Hope to honor and remember breast cancer patients

Sylva, N.C. – As part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the annual “Fall Fight” campaign against breast cancer at Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital, the women’s imaging center is hosting a reception on Friday, October 10 from 12:30-1:30pm in the first-floor lobby at Harris Medical Park at 98 Doctors Drive in Sylva to dedicate the Tree of Hope to honor and remember breast cancer patients.

The reception will include testimonials from breast cancer survivors who have undergone treatment at Harris Regional Hospital, as well as members of the breast cancer care team, including medical oncologist Dr. Trevor Austin with WNC Cancer Care and Carol VanCleve, RN, who serves as Breast Care Nurse Navigator at Harris and is coordinating the event.

At 1:00pm, Chaplain Ron Allen will conduct a brief dedication of the Tree of Hope, with breast cancer survivors placing cards on the tree with names of those being honored or remembered. Light refreshments will be served.

Everyone is invited to attend the reception. The tree will remain in place throughout October and community members, patients, and staff are all welcome to place cards on the tree at any time.

The annual “Fall Fight” is a campaign against breast cancer which includes many events throughout the month of October to promote awareness and early detection and provide education. Visit to learn more about the events and ways to help in the fight against breast cancer.

Those who schedule a mammogram during the month of October will receive a free “Fall Fight” t-shirt. Mammograms can be scheduled at any time by calling central scheduling at (828) 586-7950.