In an effort to provide complete access to medical care in Ashe County, Ashe Memorial Hospital (AMH) is expanding services, recruiting physicians, undergoing renovations and is already seeing an increase in patients.
“We want the community to know that you can get the services here that you need, and not have to ride down the mountain,” Laura Lambeth, CEO at AMH said.
Lambeth, who became CEO in August when AMH partnered with Novant Health, said she has delivered on her promise to bring in more doctors, recruiting six since she has taken over.
“Laura has hit the ground running with recruitment of physicians,” Patty Faw, administrative assistant at AMH said. “That is something we’ve needed for awhile.”
OrthoCarolina opened offices in the hospital in May and began orthopedic surgeries in December. Doctors Christopher Benson, M.D., John Newell, M.D., Stephen Fleming, M.D. and physician assistant Thomas Gocke, PA are seeing patients in Ashe County, who previously traveled to Boone for appointments and surgery, three times a week.
“These patients have been having to go out of the county for several years, and they’re able to stay in the county now,” Lambeth said. She also said anesthesiologist Dr. Mark Perlman has joined AMH and will be working with OrthoCarolina.
Lambeth said they were able to fill another community need with the addition of cardiologist Dr. Jeanette M. Billett, whose office at AMH opened Jan. 16.
“Cardiovascular disease in the number one disease that we need to fight in Ashe County,” Lambeth said, referring to a recent “State of Health” report which named heart disease the leading cause of death in the county.
Three new hospitalists, Doctors Owen D. Oksanen, M.D., David C. Luoma, M.D. and Matt Brown, M.D, have also joined the staff.
Sara Houser, RN, Director of Nursing for AMH, said in a recent tour of the facilities that a number of patient rooms have been updated to make the rooms more comfortable for both the patients being treated and visiting family members.
“We’re raising the grants to renovate our Emergency Department,” Lambeth said.
The last renovation of the emergency room was in 1992. During a tour of the updated radiology department, departmental director Keith Black said the CT scanners and other equipment are “state of the art.”
“I’ve worked at a lot of big hospitals and you would be surprised how many larger hospitals have older equipment,” Black said. “A lot of them would love to have the equipment we have.”
Among the services offer in radiology are mammograms, and the hospital is offering those free to women who have never had one before.
“If a woman has never had a screening before, we offer initial, baseline screenings free of charge, along with the reading,” Faw said.
In December AMH begin a monthly program called “Ladies Night Out” mammogram parties,which afford women the convenience of getting their mammograms and a bone density screenings done after hours in a relaxed, spa-like environment.
“The purpose is for us to do what we can to relieve the anxiety of getting a mammogram,” Black said.
The program will afford women the opportunity to book groups and come to the parties together. Music is played and refreshments, including a complimentary glass of wine, are served.
The next party will be held at the hospital from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28. To schedule an appointment or for more information, call (336) 846-6266.
Lambeth said she hopes these efforts to provide easier local access to care will stem the “out-migration” of patients to surrounding counties.
“We’re really trying to expand physician services,” Lambeth said. “We will continuing to recruit for primary care, nurse practitioners, physicians and assistants.”
Christina Day may be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cdayinwj