I have always been a proponent of hospitals partnering with community organizations to make life better for our community members. We’re all connected, and this is one way to reflect that reality. For example, our partnership with EMS Services is vital to the wellbeing of our patients, and recently our participation with the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau COVID-19 Vaccine Initiative enabled us to provide one of the most effective weapons against the virus to thousands of area residents.
This month, I’m happy to announce that we’re partnering with the Mountain Top Rotary to participate in their 2022 Art and Craft Show, where we’ll be offering important health screenings to attendees. The show takes place from 10am to 5pm on Saturday, June 25th and Sunday, June 26th. We will also offer screenings at their August show on the 27th and 28th. These take place at K-H Founders Park on Pine Street.
As its name implies, the Art and Craft Show’s focus is on regional art, hand crafted furniture, handmade clothing, and food, but Highlands-Cashiers Hospital (HCH) will proudly be a presence as well, reminding people about the importance of caring for your health and offering education, information, and screening.
Some of our physicians will be on hand to talk to attendees, there will be health literature available to take for those interested, and we will be offering glucose screenings and BMI (body mass index) readings.
I have spoken in the past through my column about the importance of “knowing your numbers” when it comes to your health, and these two screenings are key barometers of your overall health.
Along with monitoring your cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight, the data gained from these screenings give you and your primary care provider indications about your health, and what health problems you might be at higher risk for. If it is found that you’re at higher risk for certain conditions due to a high BMI or elevated blood glucose levels, then you can take measures to lower them.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that type 2 diabetes is an urgent epidemic in our country. The statistics are staggering: According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), nearly 37.5 million Americans are living with diabetes, and 96 million have prediabetes and are unaware of it.
Type 2 diabetes is a health condition that does serious damage to your circulatory, immune, and nervous systems, putting you at risk for everything from amputation to vision loss. The disease emerges when your body cannot properly regulate and utilize sugar from the food you eat as its fuel.
Diabetes leads to a host of complications, including neuropathy (numbness that’s most often experienced in the legs and feet), kidney damage, and eye damage. Having diabetes raises your risk for other serious health conditions as well, such as heart attack and stroke.
Though there’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes like eating a nutritious diet and getting good exercise allow you to manage it better. There are also medications available, including insulin.
The BMI readings we’ll be doing will help you understand whether you’re currently at a normal weight or if you should aim to lose weight. Being overweight or obese not only ups your risk for diabetes, it increases the likelihood that you’ll be diagnosed with heart disease, hypertension, stroke, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea.
Your body mass index number can reveal easily whether you’re underweight, at a normal weight, overweight, or obese. The calculation is arrived at using your weight and height; a BMI of 18.5 or below indicates that you’re underweight, 18.5 to 24.9 reflects a normal weight, 25-29.9 means that you’re overweight, and 30 or above points to obesity.
In addition to these health screenings, we’ll be distributing complimentary resources like bottled water and first aid kits. Visitors will also be able to meet and talk with our doctors and learn more about HCH programs and services that can help you manage your weight and health, such as our cardiac rehab program, endoscopy services, and more.
We will also be recruiting at the event for our next Nurse Aide Training Program, which is set to start in July. This 6-week intensive course is a paid position and fully prepares participants for the NAI (Nurse Aide 1) tests in North Carolina. They are paid with benefits as Companions at Eckerd Living Center during those six weeks, and uniform and testing fees are covered as well. Better yet, upon completion of the program and passing the CNA tests, newly minted CNAs are hired to work here at ELC and they receive a generous sign-on bonus. This is an incredible opportunity for those interested in starting their healthcare career.
I hope to see you at the Mountain Top Rotary Art and Craft Show this month. We value the opportunity to interact with our community members, provide health education and screenings, and improve the collective wellbeing of our community.
Tom Neal, RN, MBA, MHA, is the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) of Highlands-Cashiers Hospital. Neal is a proven leader with more than 30 years of progressive healthcare experience. Prior to his role at Highlands-Cashiers Hospital, he held the position of Chief Executive Officer of Community Health Systems (CHS) and served as Chief Executive Officer of both Berwick Hospital Center in Berwick, Pennsylvania, and Greenbrier Valley Medical Center, Ronceverte, West Virginia. Tom has an MBA from the University of Louisville, MHA from the California College of Health Sciences, BSN from Regents College of New York and an ADN from Jefferson Community College.