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Features Health & Wellness

Highlands-Cashiers Hospital has received a $184,046 grant from The Duke Endowment to expand dental services in Western North Carolina. The funds, to be paid in two installments, $90,976 in 2013 and $93,070 in 2014, will be directed for use by the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic to benefit the three county area of Macon, Jackson and Transylvania Counties.

More specifically, “These funds will be used to fund the costs of our expanded dental assistant staff and clinical supplies over the next two years, while we develop additional sources of funding to assure our long term growth and sustainability, ” said Larry Ray, Vice President and Treasurer of the Dental Clinic Board.


With new federal deadline mandates looming for all citizens to seek health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), free services are available to help the general public make the transition.

Through a grant provided to Mountain Projects, a community action agency, certified healthcare navigators have been established for Western North Carolina. Cynthia Solesbee, who has lived in Franklin for 10 years, attended the monthly meeting of the Macon County Board of Commissioners to make the public aware of her services. “In the simplest terms, I help folks sign up for healthcare through the affordable healthcare website; or over the phone ? and we also do paper applications when the site goes down,” explained Solesbee. “I have been trained to be a Certified Navigator in order to help people establish eligibility and enroll in coverage through the Marketplace.”

According to Solesbee, there are an estimated 30,000 uninsured people in her service area in the seven counties of Western North Carolina.


Mission Health System issued a challenge to all employees to submit an idea that would be an innovation to create a better process, make a process safer for patients or that would be more cost effective. More than 80 ideas were submitted and two were selected.

Angel Medical Center’s Lori Smith, director of radiology, was selected for her innovation of a system-wide automated temperature monitoring for all refrigerated supplies. Some supplies must be kept at a constant temperature for safety and Smith’s innovation assures that that will occur.

Smith’s idea was announced at a system-wide recognition dinner and she was awarded a check for $250 from president and CEO of Mission Health, Dr. Ron Paulus.


After enough years of moving and helping lift patients, healthcare workers often wind up being in need of medical care themselves.

Southwestern Community College instructor Susan Kimel, PT, estimates that half the healthcare professionals with whom she’s worked over the past 30 years have suffered either lower back or shoulder pain from assisting patients.

Avoiding those types of work-related injuries is why Kimel, Diane Page, PT, and other SCC faculty members launched a safe patient handling class this fall. The course introduced students to the proper techniques for using mechanical lifting equipment to move patients rather than relying solely on the workers’ strength.


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