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In The News
Health Centers Celebrated This Week

Transylvania Times

Written by: Park Barker

(Left to right) Milton Butterworth, David Bate, M.D., Melissa Jones, M.A., Kathy Wilkinson and Jenna Hoots are members of the Brevard Health Center medical team. (Times photo by Park Baker)

This week, the Brevard Health Center is celebrating National Health Center Week, a campaign aimed at raising awareness about their mission and accomplishments as local solutions for affordable and accessible health care.

The Brevard Health Center opened in November 2012 and is one of 11 Blue Ridge Community Health Services locations providing medical, dental and behavioral health care to all who seek it.

A component in the local health care delivery system and a certified Primary Care Medical Home, the organization provides comprehensive care to every patient it serves.

Claire Heyden Burson, a career nurse and contributor to nonprofit health care organizations, started Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS) in 1963, the first migrant health clinic in Western North Carolina.

Her original location in a downtown Hendersonville storefront used shower curtains to separate examining rooms and a group of volunteer medical providers that saw patients three evenings a week.

Other volunteer medical personnel would also travel to farms and farm worker housing to provide care to those who were unable to access the clinic.

Ten years after opening the clinic, Burson turned her position as director over to Barbara Garrison, who was devoted to fulfilling a dream of a year-round health facility for the entire community, and Blue Ridge Community Health Services began providing services as a community health center, with a new name.

Under Garrison's direction, BRCHS saw its greatest expansions and became nationally recognized as not only a provider of health services for migrant and seasonal farm workers, but for community health as well.

Garrison served as administrative leader for BRCHS for more than 20 years, and still resides in Hendersonville.

"The decision to expand the BRCHS into Transylvania was really partly due to the community here," said Milton Butterworth, director of community engagement for BRCHS. "With organizations like the United Way and the TRAIN program, we saw a need in the community and filled it. Those programs fulfill needs similar to our mission.

"Our goal is to keep people out of the emergency rooms, where they spend too much money and clog up the entire health care system."

Part of Butterworth's job is outreach, something he says is critical for the Brevard location in particular.

"In Transylvania County, one of the biggest issues for us is transportation," he said. "We have some rural communities in this county. Getting people here to see us is key.

"If they come in for preventive treatment, then we can keep them out of the ER and hospital and save their health, save the system money and ultimately work more efficiently for everyone."

He and the staff at the Brevard location have seen the dental program grow in visitation, so they are searching for funding to expand.

The center currently has three dental chairs, and the staff hopes to grow that to six.

Butterworth said the influx of people seeking dental care has a lot to do with the center accepting Medicaid and providing a sliding scale payment program for the underinsured and uninsured.

The center does not have any surgical capacity, but the main location in Hendersonville does have the equipment to accommodate patients with dentures.

Butterworth works closely with Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Hoots to find funding and ensure that all their needs are met.

Hoots came on board with BRCHS a year ago, and said that in her time she sees a great need for specialty care after patients come to them.

"Getting them in here for primary care is easy," said Hoots. "But finding specialty care is really difficult. We can help diabetic patients, but if they need to go see an endocrinologist, there aren't that many in Western North Carolina, so we see problems with the patients getting to specialists, and then we have issues with these people paying for specialists.

"There is no structure in place for specialists to take uninsured or underinsured patients who need their services, and our discounts don't transfer."

Hoots is trying to expand their traveling health clinic, which consists of a van with medical equipment, nurses and doctors and is in discussions with community centers throughout Transylvania County.

She would love to see their mobile clinic in the Whitewater, Toxaway and Balsam Grove communities.

Currently, their mobile clinics offer glucose screenings, flu shots in season, blood pressure checks and dental screenings, with the ability to do vision and hearing tests for free.

The mobile units have the ability to do cholesterol screenings, but at a minimum cost, just enough to cover their expenses.

"Every time we offer a mobile clinic in one of the more remote communities, we identify someone who hasn't been to the doctor in years," Hoots said. "And sometimes we find someone who has never even seen a doctor. Even with health care reforming, we have to adapt."

Another key service the Brevard Health Center offers is the ability to work with non-English speaking patients.

"We have an impressive number of our staff who speak Spanish," said Hoots. "We also have the ability to help patients who use sign language. We had a Mandarin speaking Chinese family in here recently and were able to help them through our WesternNorth Carolina Interpreter Network."

That network serves non-English speaking Western North Carolina residents and can interpret more than 15 languages for people who may not get the best or right care because of a simple miscommunication.

Dr. David Bate has been with the BRCHS for five years, and as a family care practitioner he sees all walks of life come through the doors.

He chose to work for the BRCHS rather than run a private practice because, he said, the organization is very well run.

"Not only is it well run, but it is also an ethically sound organization," he said. "For me, the mission we have to provide care to the underserved and the unserved is very fulfilling, and at the end of the day my skills go to the people who really need them.

"It's hard for many people to understand how sick our clientele are sometimes - mentally and physically. I love the people I work with, although it's not always easy. In fact, it's rarely easy.

Bate said the care the center provides is as good as can be found "anywhere."

"We do medical audits regularly to ensure that we offer the best medical services to people in need," he said. "I believe many people look at facilities like this and think that the doctors here couldn't get a job somewhere else, or that because we help poor people the quality of care is less than other places. That's not true. I've never seen a better dentist than the one we've got."

Bate agrees that patient transportation is an issue for the Brevard location, along with funding.

"When the North Carolina legislature didn't expand Medicaid, it had a real impact on health center's like ours," he said. "It's really affecting community health centers across the state, causing delays in payments from people and delays in reimbursements from the federal government."

According to Butterworth, health centers like Brevard's receive federal funding through the Public Health Services Act.

It pays for about 40 percent of their funding and allows for them to offer patients a sliding payment scale.

"Like it or not, we did pass health care reform in this country," said Butterworth. "If Medicaid expands in this state, which it still could, most of the issues that we deal with day to day disappear.

"Politics don't matter here. We want to help people get the care they need, but to provide anything beyond the basics we have to search for funds. We're not a federal program. We have a Board of Directors comprised of 51 percent of our patients, and we employ a grant writing team that helps find funds for our entire network."

For more information about BRCHS services, call 692-4289; or visit

Call (828) 883-5550 to make an appointment in Brevard.

Dental services are not offered on Fridays.

To learn more about the mission and accomplishments of Community Health Centers, visit the website of the National Association of Community Health Centers at

To find out more about National Health Center Week, visit

Our community has much to celebrate

Published: Sunday, August 10, 2014 at 4:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 8, 2014 at 3:16 p.m.

There are a lot of headlines about what’s going wrong with health care — people need both insurance coverage and access to care. Today is the start of National Health Center Week, and because we have a community health center in our community, we have a lot to celebrate!

You might ask, “Why are you concerned with health when your focus is on the education of our children?” To educators, it is more and more evident every year how important a child’s health is to his or her success in the classroom. If a child is sick, his or her ability to do well is severely compromised.

With so many barriers to health care facing our families, it is very reassuring to me and my staff that Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS) is not only right here in our community providing access to all, but BRCHS has even located school-based health centers (medical, behavioral health and nutrition services) inside four of our schools, and together we are creatively linking students from many other schools.

This means students miss less time in the classroom and their parents miss less time from work.

Here is merely a sampling of other reasons to celebrate:

u BRCHS, like all community health centers is a private, nonprofit, community- and patient-governed health care provider. Anyone can receive services there. With insurance or without insurance, different culture, different language — BRCHS provides access to all.

u Blue Ridge’s dental center and state-of-the art medical facility integrate primary medical care, family medicine, pharmacy, dental, nutritional and behavioral health in a patient-centered medical home. All in one stop!

u All patients are treated with dignity and respect by a team of caring professionals who are focused on preventing costly illness and disease before they happen. That means better health, fewer hospital emergency room visits, and consumers, taxpayers and government save money.

u Blue Ridge is the only non-hospital-owned outpatient practice in our area that has achieved accreditation by Joint Commission, a recognition of its commitment to patient quality and safety as well as meeting high standards as a patient-centered medical home.

u Nearly 25,000 of your neighbors — whether they have insurance or not — depend on BRCHS for their health care. BRCHS sees patients of all ages and all insurance types, including Medicaid and Medicare patients.

Health care delivery is transforming rapidly across the country, and health centers are uniquely positioned to adapt with the changing times.

Blue Ridge Community Health Services is no exception.

Today, health centers such as our very own Blue Ridge Community Health Services serve more than 22 million people nationwide. They provide high-quality care and save the health care system $24 billion a year through reduced hospitalizations and visits to the ER.

As a native of Henderson County with a career spent educating our greatest resource, our children, I can say we are very fortunate to have Blue Ridge Community Health Services in our community and on our team. Take my word for it — BRCHS believes in a spirit of collaboration and working together to get things done, and our community is better for it.

Happy National Health Center Week, Blue Ridge!

David Jones is superintendent of Henderson County Public Schools.


Dr. Dowler wants high-quality healthcare for WNC


Times-News Staff Writer
Published: Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 4:30 a.m.


Once Dr. Shannon Dowler realized in college that she no longer wanted to become a veterinarian, her resolve to bring high-quality health care to the people of Western North Carolina could not be shaken.

"I thought it might be a higher calling for how to make change in the world," said Dowler, who has been director of medicine at Blue Ridge Community Health Services for the last five years. "The dream was to become a family doctor in the mountains of North Carolina. That was my plan from day one."

Her plan to practice medicine in the region never faded. Though she traveled across the state to study medicine at East Carolina University, she returned to the mountains, where she completed her residency and fellowship at the Mountain Area Health and Education Center. Even when Dowler was in her third year at Appalachian State University as an undergrad, she said a clinical rotation at Watauga Medical Center felt right.

"In many ways, I felt more at home in the mountains of Western North Carolina," the Greensboro native said. "My parents are both from this area. My dad grew up in Hendersonville and my mom grew up in Asheville. In the summer, it was not uncommon for us to take a trip up the mountain and spend time up here."

For the last 15 years, Dowler has lived in Asheville with her husband and two sons, but she said there's something special about working in Henderson County that makes the 30-minute commute worth it each day.

"The work that we do at Blue Ridge is, to me, the perfect job. I get to practice medicine, which I love doing, with a phenomenal group of patients who are grateful for care. I also get to be in an administrative role, which means I get to help steer the course of health care and expand care to vulnerable populations," Dowler said. "Henderson County is a pretty special community of people."

However, Dowler said the community also faces great obstacles when it comes to health care. The medical director said access to care can be one of the greatest challenges, not only for getting patients to the doctor but for attracting doctors to practice in the area.

"Out of all the medical schools across the country, only 7 percent choose to go into primary care. That's a huge problem, and that impacts in rural communities more than anywhere else," she said. "I feel like we have a lot of work to do to really take care to marginalized populations, to help people before their disease progresses, before they have cancer, before they have diabetes."

During her tenure thus far as medical director, BRCHS has expanded its presence from one county to four, tripled the number of unduplicated patients seen and has added full behavioral health with integrated psychological service as well as dental. The local health care facility has also partnered with MAHEC to train family doctors in a physician environment, which Dowler hopes will attract more physicians to the mountains.

"I feel very proud of the work that we've done, as a team, to really build what I think is a role-model community health center," she said.

When Dowler isn't seeing patients or taking care of administrative duties, she's helping to shape the future of health care in North Carolina. She is currently serving on a physician advisory committee for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, which gives feedback about the state's plans to reform Medicaid.

"The politics of medicine has been a really fun learning curve for me," she said, noting that sometimes it feels like she hasn't slept in days. "But I have a lot of energy and I really love the work that I do."

Sometimes the work she loves is even set to a rhyme scheme. Dowler has been rapping ever since she was in college, and she uses her poetic inclinations to teach students and adults about sexually transmitted diseases. Going by the name "Rap Dkta D," Dowler visits groups around the region to talk and rap about these diseases, their prevalence, and protection.

"I really enjoy working with the adolescent population and helping them reduce their risk, but also engage the adult community to get them up to speed on what teenagers face today," she said. "I think our culture today looks at sexuality very differently and the risks for teenagers can be extremely long-lasting, if not lifelong."

For now, the ATHENA award nominee said that whether she's speaking to Gov. Pat McCrory about Medicaid or asking a patient where it hurts, her priority and her first love remains helping her community.

"I know in the end game, in the grand scheme of things, that administrative work is important, but that's probably the biggest struggle," she said. "I know what I do is important, but at the end of the day, I'm a family doctor."

Rutherford Health Center opens for all who need care

Apr. 16, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

When the Rutherford Health Center (RHC) officially opened Monday afternoon it was a day of celebration in Rutherford County. The new center, formerly the Rutherford County Community Clinic, is owned by Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS) based in Hendersonville.

The day was also a time to recognize Sandra McGriff,  former executive director of the community health clinic that began in Rutherford County in 2004 in a building off West Trade Street in Forest City.

Described as a person of "quiet leadership" McGriff was presented a bouquet of flowers and thanked for her service at the helm of the health clinic since 2004.

McGriff, along with a small team of supporters and volunteers, was the brainchild of the community clinic that offered health care to the county's uninsured.

From its beginning with a Duke Endowment Grant and a Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust grant, the center has since grown to include additional medical staff. In 2010 with grants from the North Carolina Rural Center and others, it moved to its location on West Main Street in Spindale.

The health center continued to grow as more patients were seen at the clinic in Spindale.

Five years ago McGriff began working with BRCHS and its chief executive officer Jennifer Henderson, to find a way to collaborate the best ways to provide health care services to the 45 percent of the county's population living below the poverty line without health care.

At that time, the community clinic was the only comprehensive health care center in Rutherford County that offered integrated medical and behavioral health service available to serve the county's 16,000 underinsured or uninsured individuals.

The decision was made on March 3 to help fill the gap as BRCHS opened the RHC, made possible through the HRSA New Access Point funding provided by the Affordable Care Act.

Gathering Monday to celebrate the transition and the opening of the center were officials from BRCHS, health professionals, politicians and county leaders.

One of Henderson's first duties Monday was accepting a $100,000 check from the Golden Leaf Foundation for the RHC.

"The Rutherford Health Center is an exciting new chapter for Blue Ridge," said Henderson. "All are welcome here. If you have insurance. If you do not have insurance. If you have a chronic illness or a mental illness."

She said although the future of health care is uncertain, "the spirit is the same" as people try to find avenues to provide health care.

"Our commitment is to have a healthier community and to provide quality health care for everyone," Henderson said.

Karen McNeil-Miller, the president of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, and a native of Spindale, was a special guest. She said the health center is personal to her, because "this is my home."

The R-S Central High School and Isothermal Community College graduate said she enjoys coming back home to visit her mother and family.

McNeil-Miller said Kate B. Reynolds helped start up the community health center with a $525,000 grant and has put $1.7 million into the BRCHS over the years.

"That is some of the best money we can spend from a foundation," she said. "This is a wonderful plus for all of us."

N.C. Senator Ralph Hise said it is challenging to get health care to rural areas and he commended BRCHS for coming together to make sure people are taken care of in Rutherford and surrounding counties.

N.C. Rep Mike Hager told the group," quality health care is here now" stating it was not that way three years ago.

The center's staff includes four medical providers, two licensed behavioral health counselors, clinical support personnel and a practice manager with services focused on the residents of Rutherford County. The center will also serve people in adjoining counties.

The center will provide family medical, behavioral health services and discount pharmacy contracted with Spindale Drug.

Dental services will be available in another year.

Medicare, Medicaid and most major insurances are accepted and for those who are not insured, services are offered on a sliding scale fee, but no one is turned away because of inability to pay.

Additional personnel will include a case worker, an outreach worker, an eligibility specialist/interpreter and two licensed clinic social workers.

BRCHS expects it will serve 3,600 patients during its first year of operation.

The RHC is open five days a week and walk-in patient appointments are accepted daily for medical and behavioral health care. Call 828-288-2881 for an appointment.

BRCHS also has health facilities in Blue Ridge Health Center and Hendersonville Family Health Center in Hendersonville, at Brevard Health Center and now in Spindale and four Henderson County Schools.

BRCHS featured in local news

BRCHS featured in local news for access it provides for those in need


Moments after she gave birth to triplets, Olga Robles-Resendiz longed to hold her sons in her arms for the first time, but she said, “They were born so small that they would fit in one hand.”

Because they were premature and needed more intensive care, Robles-Resendiz didn't get to embrace her boys — Alejandro, Armando and Fernando — until she was cleared to take them home from the hospital almost two months later.

“I was extremely happy when they were first born, but I was also very fearful,” Robles-Resendiz said, speaking through a translator.

By the time her triplets, now 12, turned 4, Robles-Resendiz said she felt that something was not right.

“As they were growing, I noticed that Fernando, the smallest, could not walk well and was falling a lot,” the mother of five said.

However, after she gave birth to the triplets, Robles-Resendiz could not hold down a job in housekeeping or in a restaurant. As her children's health worsened, she took time off to care for them and, consequently, she said she could rarely finish a week of work.

With nowhere else to go and little money to spare, she took her sons to Blue Ridge Community Health Services.

Months of visits later, a pediatrician at the nonprofit health center would diagnose the triplets with muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder that weakens the muscles that help the body move.

At first, Robles-Resendiz did not fully understand. It was only after she called her mother and found out that her nephew also had the disorder that she began to fully grasp what was happening.

Read more at:



Our 50th Anniversary Gala,

"Opening Doors to a Healthy Future"



To celebrate our 50th Anniversary, Blue Ridge Community Health Services Board of Directors presents a unique Gala, “Opening Doors to a Healthy Future” on September 21 from 6-9pm at Kenmure Country Club.

Guests paying $100 per ticket will enjoy an evening to remember: great food and wine, entertainment and a game that is unlike any you have ever experienced before. Those participating in the game will have a chance at winning one of three extraordinary prizes, each dramatically hidden behind a closed door.

Many thanks to our friends and sponsors for supporting the event. The Gala supports our mission to provide quality health care that is accessible and affordable for all.

If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor please call 828.233.2284 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



50th Anniversary Gala Sponsors

Platinum Key
Eleanora Meloun

Gold Key
Tom and Sue Fazio
The Herman Family
Pardee Hospital
Pardee Hospital Foundation
Vine Ripe

Silver Key
Barb Biron, Owner of Decor8
BRCHS Board of Directors
Laborde Eye Group
    Robert P. Laborde, MD
    Stephen J. Capps, MD, MPH
Sandra W. Williams

Bronze Key
Altavista Wealth Management, Inc.
Dr. & Mrs. Stuart Cohn
Ms. Vivian Hoeppner
Hoyle Office Solutions, Inc.
McGuire, Wood & Bissette, PA
Dr. & Mrs. Bill Medina
Morrow Insurance Agency, Inc.
Selee Corporation
TD Bank
Ruth C. Wodock

Brass Key
Connie and Don Cooper
EcoWise Construction, Inc.
Forest Commercial Bank
Henderson Oil Company
Mountain Lodge & Conference Center
Bill Stokes

Continuing the Kickoff Tradition

BRCHS has a history based on migrant and seasonal farm worker health care. A 50 year history. But sometimes this population gets lost in the shuffle as we grow and expand services. The Farmworker Kickoff is held annually as a way to remind us of the people we are here to care for and some of their unique needs and vulnerabilities. This year’s kickoff will be held Friday, July 12th, from 12:30 to 1:30 and will include a potluck lunch, Jeopardy game and more fun times. But it’s all in the spirit of remembering our purpose for the MSFW’s.

We often see the acronym MSFW. What are they and what’s the difference? Migrant workers are defined as “anyone or their dependent who has moved in the last two years to seek work harvesting farm products” and seasonal workers as “anyone or their dependent who works seasonally harvesting farm products but stays in one location all year”. In other words, one group migrates to follow the crops and the other stays put and works according to the crop season. Both groups typically have a few things in common such as low income, marginal housing, limited resources, unique healthcare needs and more. The healthcare needs that are often more prevalent include pesticide exposure not only of the workers but of their families, too, musculoskeletal injuries from repetitive motions or postures, diseases associated with close living quarters, inadequate nutrition, limited access to medical or dental care or health information, etc.

Enter the Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN). This organization is “a national network of professionals working in primary care and public health settings with migrant farmworkers and their families and other underserved populations”. Currently, BRCHS is partnering with MCN in two initiatives to help improve healthcare services to the MSFW population. The Environmental and Occupational Health Project (EOH), is designed to bring greater awareness of healthcare concerns specific to MSFWs to community health center staff and providers. The Work Plan includes developing resource materials to help educate BRCHS staff and providers about the needs of the MSFW, training BRCHS employees on the identification and documentation of these individuals and support in the ongoing efforts to improve these services.   The Health Network (HealthNet) project is designed to provide mobile patients with continuity of care through global patient navigation and bridge case management by centralizing and streamlining the medical records access for migrant and mobile patients.



Each June, National Safety Month is observed to educate and influence behaviors around the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths. Successful organizations engage everyone in safety and create a culture where people feel a personal responsibility not only for their own safety, but for that of their coworkers, family and friends.

Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS) provides safe, quality healthcare services to patients in need of medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, and nutrition services.   The organization supports a robust quality improvement and risk management program along with continuous Ambulatory Healthcare Accreditation from the Joint Commission since 1996.

The Joint Commission’s standards address the ambulatory care organization’s performance in specific areas, and specify requirements to ensure that patient care is provided in a safe manner. The Joint Commission’s accreditation process concentrates on operational systems critical to the safety and quality of patient care. To earn and maintain accreditation, an ambulatory care organization must undergo an on-site survey by a Joint Commission survey team every three years. The objective of the survey is not only to evaluate the organization, but to provide education and guidance that will help staff continue to improve the organization’s performance.

Blue Ridge Community Health Services is one of eight Community Health Centers in North Carolina that is currently Joint Commission accredited. BRCHS will undergo Primary Care Medical Home (PCMH) certification from the Joint Commission in 2013.   PCMH focuses on care coordination, access to care, and how effectively a primary care clinician and interdisciplinary team work in partnership with the patient (and where applicable, their family). The PCMH certification option is consistent with the new federal health care reform efforts to improve health outcomes and the continuity, quality and efficiency of health care services.

May is Mental Health Month


By Ilona Csapo, MD - Behavioral Health

Our Behavioral Health Team at Blue Ridge includes three counselors, two psychiatrists, and one psychiatric nurse practitioner. We work together to help people with a variety of mental health conditions, including:

Depression is a common but serious illness involving sad or irritable mood, a loss of interest or pleasure in most activities, feelings of guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, or worthlessness. It also can involve behavioral changes in sleep, appetite, energy, and concentration. Some have thoughts of suicide or develop unexplained bodily aches and pains, and few can even develop psychosis. Depression is a disorder which alters brain chemicals. It is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. A depressive episode can be triggered by trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, stress, or can occur without an obvious trigger. It tends to run in families. It is more common among women, likely due to hormonal influences, and can occur after the birth of a child(post-partum depression), prior to menstruation(premenstrual dysphoric disorder), or during menopause. Depression is NOT a normal part of aging, but older adults also may have more medical conditions that can cause depressive symptoms, or they may be taking medications with side effects of depression. Children who develop depression often continue to have episodes as they enter adulthood. A younger child with depression may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, or cling to a parent. Adolescents may get into trouble at school, be negative and irritable, and feel misunderstood. Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment, but can get better with treatment, including medications and/or therapy.


Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic-depression, is a brain disorder that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Mood states can be overly joyful or excited(manic), overly agitated, depressed, or a combination of these mood states(mixed). Manic symptoms can include talking faster, thinking faster, jumping from one idea to another, feeling rested on very little sleep, behaving impulsively, such as engaging in spending sprees, risky sex or business ventures, taking on new projects, or having an inflated sense of self-esteem. Manic states tend to last for at least 1 week and depressed states tend to last at least 2 weeks. Bipolar disorder, particularly manias, can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, legal interventions, and even suicide. The suicide rate is high, especially when combined with a drug or alcohol addiction, which is common in people with bipolar disorder. Sometimes, a person with severe episodes of mania or depression can have psychotic symptoms too, such as hallucinations or delusions. As a result, people with bipolar sometimes wrongly diagnosed as having schizophrenia. A hypomania is a less severe form of mania, which lasts less than a week and does not require emergency care. A person in a hypomanic state may have increased energy, feel very good, be highly productive, and function well. However, people with hypomania are at risk to develop severe mania or depression. Bipolar disorder often develops in a person's late teens or early adult years. To date, there is no cure for bipolar disorder. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person's life. Bipolar disorder can be treated with medications and psychotherapy, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

Anxiety: Anxiety Disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older in a given year, causing them to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event (such as speaking in public or a first date), anxiety disorders last at least 6 months and can get worse if they are not treated. The following are common anxiety disorders, all of which share the symptom of excessive, irrational fear or dread:

  • panic disorder:   involves sudden onset and offset of extreme anxiety with associated uncomfortable physical symptoms, such as palpitations and shortness of breath.       This condition can have associated agoraphobia, where people are afraid to leave their house.
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): anxiety from irrational obsessions, such as fear of germs or fear of catastrophic events, prompts compulsive behaviors, such as repetitive hand washing, praying, counting, or checking appliances or locks.
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): a traumatic event leads to re-experiencing of event months or even years later, with associated avoidance of triggers of event and arousal in response to people, places and situations that remind person of traumatic event. Mood lability is also common in people with PTSD.
  • social phobia (or social anxiety disorder): anxiety when in public situations
  • generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): Chronic anxiety about numerous events or activities


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and often can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include hyperactivity, or difficulty controlling behavior, inattention, or difficulty staying focused, or both. The symptoms lead to problems at school, or work, and in relationships with parents, teachers, bosses, co-wokers, or spouses. Treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Treatments include medication, therapy and skills training. The most common type of medication used for treating ADHD are “stimulants," which have a calming effect on people with ADHD.  Medications do not cure ADHD, but control the symptoms for as long as they are taken.


Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe brain disorder characterized by either hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech and/or behavior, or catatonia. People with the disorder may hear voices or see things other people don't hear or see. They may believe other people or entities are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. About 1 percent of people worldwide have this illness. Symptoms tend to start in late teens or 20s, usually preceded by social withdrawal and other changes in behavior. People with schizophrenia are not usually violent. Approximately 10 percent of people with schizophrenia commit suicide. This is more common with a co-morbid alcohol or drug addiction, which is common in people with schizophrenia. Interactions between genes and the environment are necessary for schizophrenia to develop. Scientists think that an imbalance in the brain neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate play a role in schizophrenia. Because the causes of schizophrenia are still unknown, treatments focus on eliminating the symptoms of the disease. Treatments include antipsychotic medications and various psychosocial treatments. People with schizophrenia often resist treatment. They may not think they need help because they believe their delusions or hallucinations are real. When a person becomes dangerous to himself or herself, or to others, family members or friends may have to call the police to take their loved one to the hospital.


To learn more about Mental Health Month visit:

The Dos and Don'ts for Fabulous Feet

Whether you like to get a pedicure in the nail salon or at home, follow these easy Dos and Don'ts to keep your feet looking and feeling their best. 


  • If you have diabetes or poor circulation in your feet, consult a podiatrist so he or she can recommend a customized pedicure that both you and your salon can follow for optimal foot health.
  • Schedule your pedicure first thing in the morning. Salon foot baths are typically cleanest earlier in the day. If you're not a morning person, make sure that the salon filters and cleans the foot bath between clients.
  • Bring your own pedicure utensils to the salon. Bacteria and fungus can move easily from one person to the next if the salon doesn't use proper sterilization techniques.
  • When eliminating thick, dead skin build-up, also known as calluses, on the heel, ball and sides of the feet, use a pumice stone, foot file or exfoliating scrub. Soak feet in warm water for at least five minutes, then use the stone, scrub, or foot file to gently smooth calluses and other rough patches.
  • When trimming nails, use a toenail clipper with a straight edge to ensure your toenail is cut straight across. See a podiatrist if you have a tendency to develop ingrown toenails.
  • To smooth nail edges, use an emery board. File lightly in one direction without using too much pressure, being sure not to scrape the nail's surface.
  • Gently run a wooden or rubber manicure stick under your nails to keep them clean. This helps remove the dirt and build-up you may or may not be able to see.
  • Maintain the proper moisture balance of the skin on your feet by applying emollient-enriched moisturizer to keep soles soft.


  • Resist the urge to shave your legs before receiving a pedicure. Freshly shaven legs or small cuts on your legs may allow bacteria to enter.
  • If you are receiving a pedicure and manicure, don't use the same tools for both services as bacteria and fungus can transfer between fingers and toes.
  • Although certain salons offer this technique, don't allow technicians to use a foot razor to remove dead skin.
  • Don't round the edges of your toenails. This type of shape increases the chances that painful ingrown toenails will develop.
  • Emery boards are extremely porous and can trap germs that spread. Since they can't be sterilized, don't share nail files with friends and be sure to bring your own to the salon, unless you are sure that the salon replaces them with each customer.
  • Don't use any sharp tools to clean under nails. Using anything sharp makes it easy to puncture the skin, leaving it vulnerable to infection.
  • Be sure that you don't leave any moisture between toes. Anything left behind can promote the development of athlete's foot or a fungal infection.
  • Because cuticles serve as a protective barrier against bacteria, don't ever cut them. Cutting cuticles increases the risk of infection. Also, avoid incessantly pushing back cuticles, as doing so can make them thicker.
  • If you suffer from thick and discolored toenails, which could be a sign of a fungal infection, don't apply nail polish to cover up the problem. Nail polish locks out moisture and doesn't allow the nail bed to "breathe." Once you fix the underlying issue, then it is safe to paint nails


Choosing a Running Shoe

One of the first steps to healthy running is wearing supportive running shoes. Neglecting to wear proper footwear can lead to a variety of foot problems that can cause injury and impede performance.

Feet are generally categorized into three types: low/flat arch, normal arch, and high arch. Look below to see which type of running shoe fits your foot type.


For feet with low arches: Choose a supportive shoe that is designed for stability and motion control. These shoes help to correct for overpronation.


For feet with normal arches: Choose a shoe with equal amounts of stability and cushioning to help absorb shock.


For feet with high arches: Choose a cushioned running shoe with a softer midsole and more flexibility. This will compensate for the poor shock absorption of a high-arched foot.

March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. It’s as common in women as it is in men. This year, over 142,000 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and an estimated 50,830 will die of the disease. With certain types of screening, this cancer can be prevented by removing polyps (grape-like growths on the wall of the intestine) before they become cancerous. Several screening tests detect colorectal cancer early, when it can be more easily and successfully treated.

Quick Facts:

  1. If everyone who is 50 years old or older were screened regularly, as many as 60 percent of deaths from this cancer could be avoided.
  2. 1/3 of adults over 50 years of age have never been screened for colon cancer
  3. Number 2 cause of cancer deaths in the US, over 52000 deaths/year
  4. Screening colonoscopy every 10 years, sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, stool tests annually can help prevent

Colorectal Cancer Early Detection

If you’re at average risk for colorectal cancer, start getting screened at age 50. If you’re at higher risk, you may need to start regular screening at an earlier age and be screened more often. If you’re older than 75, ask your doctor if you should continue to be screened. The best time to get screened is before you have any symptoms.

BRCHS Welcomes New COO

(Hendersonville, NC) Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS) is pleased to announce the addition of Jennifer Hoots as the Chief Operating Officer. As COO, Hoots will be responsible for the operational performance for all sites and service lines. She is also charged with ensuring efficient service delivery that is designed to meet the needs of patients, providers, the public and staff.

Hoots joins BRCHS with over 15 years experience in physician practice management, most recently with Pardee Hospital where she held several positions including Director of Pardee Urgent Care and Business & Industry, and as Executive Director of Physician Services where she provided operational and administrative leadership for the 16 hospital-owned physician practice sites. A graduate from North Carolina State University, Hoots holds a Bachelor’s in Communication as well as being a Certified Medical Practice Executive from the American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE).

BRCHS has been serving Hendersonville and the surrounding communities for 50 years in an effort to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental and mental health care as well as promote health awareness/education. Services are conveniently located in Hendersonville at 2579 Chimney Rock Road (the corner of US 64 East and Howard Gap Road); in Brevard at 89 Hospital Drive, Suite B (just before the hospital); and in four Henderson County Public Schools – Bruce Drysdale Elementary, Hillandale Elementary, Apple Valley Middle and North Henderson High School. If you would like more information about BRCHS services, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at P.O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC  28793; or online at or

School Based Health Centers Offer Many Benefits

(Hendersonville, NC) Carlee Smith is a language arts teacher at Apple Valley Middle School with a daughter Ella who attends kindergarten at Edneyville Elementary.

“Ella had a sore throat and we didn’t know if it was strep,” Smith recalled. “Apple Valley has a health center, so she came over and they gave her a strep test. It turned out negative. Having their service available kept me from having to take time off work, and Ella received the care she needed.” Many parents face the same dilemma: they work full-time and when their school-age child is ill, they want to be sure that the child has the proper medical attention. This often means taking time off from work at the last minute, trying to schedule a same-day appointment with a doctor, and driving from work to school to the doctor and back again – unless the child needs to go home.

“As a teacher, I feel that our health center is invaluable to our students and school,” Smith said. “I taught at Flat Rock Middle when we only had a school nurse. We were always asking ‘Do we send them home? Do we keep them at school?’ With the school based health center, a Physician’s Assistant or Nurse Practitioner can diagnose and prescribe medication when necessary. Now the kids can get the treatment they need and we know how to take care of them: keep them in class or send them home.”

Tammy Greenwell with Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS) agreed. “The centers are there to serve all the school kids, faculty, and staff,” she said. “They are especially important for those who don’t have a medical home or who don’t have insurance or are under-insured. The centers are onsite and accessible to everyone without having to make parents leave work or students leave school,” she said.

BRCHS provides comprehensive nursing, medical, behavioral health and nutrition services at dedicated, on-site school based health centers for 2,765 students in four schools located in Henderson County: two elementary schools (Bruce Drysdale and Hillandale), a middle school (Apple Valley) and a high school (North Henderson). Three centers are staffed during school hours throughout the academic year; Bruce Drysdale is open year round.

Money is never a barrier to care in the school health center. Services are available to students regardless of income level or insurance status. For those who are uninsured, services are provided on a sliding fee basis—which slides all the way down to $0.

School based health centers in Henderson County are the result of a collaboration between BRCHS and Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS).  At the four permanent sites, HCPS provides physical space for the centers and assists with dissemination of informational materials.

“We are very appreciative of their work and our partnership with Blue Ridge Community Health Services,” said David L. Jones, superintendent of Henderson County Public Schools. “The services provided to our students and staff through the school based health centers are wonderful. They are truly making a difference for our students and community.”

As of January, thanks to funding from the Sisters of Mercy of NC Foundation, Edneyville and Sugarloaf Elementary schools, Hendersonville and Flat Rock Middle schools and Hendersonville High School students – all 3,165 of them – will now have access to the school based health centers. School health services are available to children from other schools as well on a case-by-case basis.

“Almost 6,000 students will have access to care during this school year,” said Shannon Dowler, MD, BRCHS Chief Medical Officer. “School based health centers have become an important method of health care delivery for children in Henderson County. They create an environment of service coordination and collaboration that addresses the health needs of students with health disparities or poor access to health care services that might otherwise go unserved.”

“Our staff develops a rapport with the student and their family,” she continued. “A student may come to a school health center complaining of a headache or stomach ache, and we may learn that there are problems at home.” The school health center staff work collaboratively with the Department of Social Services and local non-profits to link families to resources for food, shelter, etc.”

Will there be additional centers opening? “Only with additional funding,” Greenwell stated. “These centers are not self-supporting; they are funded by community donations, fundraising events, state and foundation grants.”

With that many students having access to medical and behavioral health, BRCHS expects to contribute to systematic change in not only health care, but education as well by:

  • Providing primary and preventive health services, including management of chronic and episodic illnesses, injury care, physicals and immunizations.
  • Providing behavioral health and nutritional counseling.
  • Providing disadvantaged and underserved youth who do not have a medical home with access to health care services at SBHCs and an opportunity to make BRCHS their permanent medical home.
  • Providing access to BRCHS services to students’ family members who need access to primary care.
  • Improving attendance and academic performance by promoting overall health and well-being to students.

Apple Valley teacher Smith said, “Our school heath center is an invaluable resource. As a working mom, I appreciate that the health center services are available and accessible. As a teacher, I know that a healthy child is a more ready-to-learn student.”

BRCHS has been serving Hendersonville and the surrounding communities for 50 years in an effort to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental and mental health care as well as promote health awareness/education. Services are conveniently located in Hendersonville at 2579 Chimney Rock Road (the corner of US 64 East and Howard Gap Road); in Brevard at 89 Hospital Drive, Suite B (just before the hospital); and in our four School Based Health Centers. If you would like more information about BRCHS services, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at P.O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC  28793; or online at or


# # #


The Importance of Handwashing

By: Nicole Foxworth, PAC

Its winter time and with that comes cold weather and staying indoors. It’s the season of spreading germs by shaking hands, touching doorknobs, and countertops, etc. The best way to keep from spreading or picking up germs and viruses on your hands is HANDWASHING.

Even if your hands look clean they can still carry many different types of germs and viruses. A study out last year showed that 1 in 6 cell phones have fecal matter on them.   That’s right poop germs on 1 in 6 phones. The main reason is that people are not washing their hands after using the bathroom.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), good handwashing reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 31%, and the number of respiratory illnesses like colds, in the general population by 21%. Even though there is widespread knowledge of the importance of handwashing, a recent study showed that only 31% (1 out of 10) men and 65% (6.5 out of 10) women wash their hands after using a public restroom---there is room for improvement!

The best way to wash your hands is with soap and running water. First, wet your hands with warm or cold water and apply soap. Next, rub your hands together and make a good lather while humming a little tune, like “Happy Birthday” or the “ABC” song. Try to get in between your fingers and under your nails if possible.   Rinse your hands under running water with your hands pointing down so that the dirty soap and germs run down into the sink and not back onto your hands.   Last, dry your hands using a clean towel or allow them to air dry.

If you do not have running water available, hand sanitizers are ok to use.   It’s important to use sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol. They are not as good as using soap and water, but they can cut down on spreading germs when running water is not available.   They do not work as well when your hands are visibly dirty. Apply the sanitizer to the palm of your hand. Rub both hands together and continue rubbing until your hands are dry.

Again, keeping your hands clean is the best way to keep you and your family healthy this winter. For any further questions about the importance of handwashing or recommendations for your family, please ask your doctor or call 692-4289 to make an appointment at BRCHS.

Nicole Foxworth is a Physician’s Assistant at Blue Ridge Community Health Services. BRCHS has been serving Hendersonville and the surrounding communities for nearly 50 years in an effort to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental and mental health care as well as promote health awareness/education.  If you would like more information about BRCHS, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at P. O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC  28793; or online at and

Local Collaboration Addressing Physician Shortage Under Healthcare Reform

(Hendersonville, NC) With 30 million more Americans able to now gain access to health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the demand for high-quality primary care physicians will be increasing dramatically. Already, WNC has a shortage of over 100 primary care physicians, and this shortage will take on increased importance in the coming decades. Combined with an aging population, this shortage will place a tremendous stress on our health care system. 

Locally, Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS), Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC), Pardee Hospital, and the MAHEC Hendersonville Family Medicine Residency Program, are proactively planning to respond to the anticipated need by collaborating to increase the number of newly graduated doctors entering the family medicine residency in Hendersonville.

These healthcare organizations are anticipating the need that the ACA will create. By utilizing grant dollars made available to MAHEC by the ACA under the “Teaching Health Center” program, the planned collaboration will not only increase the number of family medicine physicians training locally, but will also increase access for patients who struggle with poverty, a lack of health insurance, and other barriers to accessing healthcare.

Under the Teaching Health Center program, MAHEC will be increasing the number of residents entering its Hendersonville Family Medicine Residency, and the operations of the MAHEC outpatient clinical site, currently operated by Pardee, would be assumed by BRCHS. The plan requires final approval, but is anticipated to be complete by July 1.

According to Dr. Geoffrey Jones, the Program Director of the residency program, current patients shouldn’t experience any change in their current patient-physician relationship with the transition to BRCHS, but the goal is for the area to gain new, well-trained physicians for the long term. “We look forward to enhancing our residency program through this partnership” said Dr. Jones. “Patients will continue to see all of the same providers and staff, but under the new banner of BRCHS. We look forward to expanding our residency classes through this funding initiative and retaining even more graduates to stay in the Hendersonville area.”

BRCHS is a non-profit community health center that has been serving Hendersonville and the surrounding communities for 50 years in an effort to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental and mental health care as well as promote health awareness/education. Services are conveniently located in Hendersonville at 2579 Chimney Rock Road (the corner of US 64 East and Howard Gap Road); in Brevard at 89 Hospital Drive, Suite B (just before the hospital); and in four Henderson County Public Schools – Bruce Drysdale Elementary, Hillandale Elementary, Apple Valley Middle and North Henderson High School. If you would like more information about BRCHS services, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at P. O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC 28793; or online at or

MAHEC is a not-for-profit corporation established in 1974 as part of the statewide North Carolina AHEC System and provides high quality, compassionate healthcare as a foundation for training top physicians and health professionals. Serving the 16-county region of WNC, MAHEC operates accredited residency and fellowship programs in Family Medicine, Ob/Gyn, General Dentistry, Geriatric Medicine, and Hospice/Palliative Medicine and offers over 400 continuing education programs to healthcare professionals annually. MAHEC operates a Library and Knowledge Services department, offers health careers awareness programs, facilitates community-based training for university health science students, and provides quality improvement consultation services to primary care and specialty physician practices. MAHEC clinicians provide patient care services in locations in Asheville and Hendersonville. For more information, call 257-4400 or visit .

Pardee Hospital is a not-for-profit community hospital founded in 1953 and is managed by UNC Health Care. The hospital is licensed for 222 acute care beds. The hospital has several locations separate from the main campus and a comprehensive physician practice network. For more information or to find a physician, call 1-866-790-WELL (9355) or visit

Healthy Eating

By: Cindy Pittman, RD

It’s that time again---the New Year when many of us think about what we would like to accomplish. One of the top resolutions has always been to be healthier and in better shape.  Yet, weight loss can be very confusing and frustrating. Fad diets and weight loss products can sometimes help you lose weight quickly, but it is rare that people are able to keep these pounds off in the future.   Adopting healthy eating habits is the safest and most effective way to lose weight, and keep it off.

These are some general tips to eating healthy:

  • Drink plenty of calorie free drinks (water, tea, coffee, diet soda). You may be thirsty, and not hungry.
  • Get plenty of fiber. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are good sources of fiber. Have high fiber cereal or whole wheat bread every day.
  • Cut back on sugar. Drink less fruit juice, soda or sweet drinks.
  • Avoid eating before you go to bed. Have a glass of water or caffeine free herbal tea.
  • Make fruits and vegetables part of each meal.
  • Drink water while you cook.
  • Divide your plate into four equal parts. Use one part for meat, one part for starch (such as rice, pasta, potatoes or bread) and two parts of non starchy vegetables (salad, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, greens).
  • Enjoy fruit for dessert instead of cake, pie or other sweets.

It is very important to pay attention to your body; when you feel like you’ve had enough to eat—stop eating! If you still feel hungry or unsatisfied, wait at least ten minutes before having more food. Often, the craving will go away. Eat slowly and put your fork down between bites, cut your food one bite at a time. Keep all food in the kitchen and avoid eating elsewhere like in the car, the bedroom or in front of the television. Finally, remove your plate as soon as you have finished eating, this will help prevent you from eating out of habit when you’re not really hungry.   Many days, we are so busy we don’t make the healthiest choices about what we eat, especially when we are extremely hungry which is why it’s even more important to plan your meals ahead of time. Remember to eat at least three times per day; skipping meals does not help you lose weight. Happy New Year--one when we all can strive to eat healthier!

Cyndi Pittman, RD is a registered dietitian at Blue Ridge Community Health Services.

BRCHS has been serving Hendersonville and the surrounding communities for nearly 50 years in an effort to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental and mental health care as well as promote health awareness/education.  If you would like more information about BRCHS, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at P. O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC  28793; or online at and

BRCHS Emphasizes the Importance of Screening and Prevention During Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

(Hendersonville, NC) Each year more than 12,000 American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and over 4,000 of those women die from the condition. Almost all cervical cancer deaths could be prevented by a combination of routine Pap tests and appropriate follow-up of abnormal screening results.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, dedicated to encouraging women to take action and protect themselves in the New Year. The start of a new year is the time that many reflect on their health. To start the year right, we encourage women to contact their health care provider to schedule a Pap test to check for cervical cancer. This screening is an important part of a woman’s health care routine, yet one that many overlook. It is important to remember that cervical cancer is a preventable disease.

Ways to Prevent Cervical Cancer:

  • Talk to your health care provider about screening for human papillomavirus (HPV) and other sexually transmitted infections.
  • Get regular Pap tests.
  • If you smoke, contact the QuitlineNC (1-800-784-8669) for resources to help you quit.


Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS) offers no-cost pap test and cervical health education to eligible women through the NC Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP). If you are a woman that is over age 21 and would like to schedule a Pap test, please ask your health care provider or call 692-4289 to make an appointment at BRCHS today.   To learn more about the NC BCCCP in your area, visit for a list of resources.

 BRCHS has been serving Hendersonville and the surrounding communities for 50 years in an effort to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental and mental health care as well as promote health awareness/education. Services are conveniently located in Hendersonville at 2579 Chimney Rock Road (the corner of US 64 East and Howard Gap Road); in Brevard at 89 Hospital Drive, Suite B (just before the hospital); and in four Henderson County Public Schools – Bruce Drysdale Elementary, Hillandale Elementary, Apple Valley Middle and North Henderson High School. If you would like more information about BRCHS services, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at P. O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC  28793; or online at or

BRCHS Receives $50,000 Grant to Expand Access to School Based Health Centers

(Hendersonville, NC)  Blue Ridge Community Health Services, Inc. (BRCHS) has received a $50,000 grant from the Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina Foundation, Inc. to increase access to School Based Health Centers (SBHCs) for Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS) students.  During the 2011-12 school year 1,856 students used SBHC services resulting in 11,283 encounters.   This funding will help provide an additional 3,165 students with access to SBHC services.

BRCHS operates SBHCs at two elementary schools (Bruce Drysdale and Hillandale), a middle school (Apple Valley) and a high school (North Henderson), all in Henderson County.  These schools have dedicated SBHCs on-site and they are staffed during school hours throughout the academic year, with one site, Bruce Drysdale, open year round.  A need to link these services to additional schools was indentified in consultation with the Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS) at the following locations:  Edneyville and Sugarloaf Elementary Schools, Hendersonville and Flat Rock Middle Schools and Hendersonville High School.  Students from these schools will be transported to the nearest SBHC location.

“School Based Health Centers are an important method of health care delivery for children in Henderson County.  They create an environment of service coordination and collaboration that addresses the health needs and well-being of students with health disparities or poor access to health care services,” said Dr. Paul Trani, Medical Director of School Health Services.  “Through thegenerosity of the Sisters of Mercy Foundation, more students will have access to medical and behavioral health services. This will contribute to systematic change in not only health care outcomes, but educational outcomes as well.”

BRCHS has been serving Hendersonville and the surrounding communities for almost 50 years in an effort to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental and mental health care as well as promote health awareness/education.  If you would like more information about BRCHS, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at P. O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC  28793; or online at or

Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina Foundation, Inc. operates exclusively for the benefit and support of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas South Central Community and assists it in furthering its charitable, religious and educational mission.  The Foundation is managed in accordance with the teachings and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church and the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.  The Foundation seeks to promote systemic change and assist individuals to empower themselves, especially women, children and those who are elderly, to improve the quality of their lives.

BRCHS Receives $11,000 Grant for Medical and Dental Equipment at the New Brevard Health Center

(Hendersonville, NC) Blue Ridge Community Health Services, Inc. (BRCHS) has received an $11,000 grant through the Janirve Legacy Fund of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) and the Transylvania Endowment to purchase medical and dental equipment for the organization’s new access site, the Brevard Health Center (BHC) in Brevard, NC. The BHC offers medical, dental, nutrition, behavioral health and discount pharmacy services.

Located at 89 Hospital Drive, the Center recently underwent extensive renovations, including installation of state-of-the-art medical exam rooms and dental exam rooms. The BHC staff includes two medical providers (a family physician and a nurse practitioner), clinical support personnel, a part-time dietitian, and a practice manager. Dental services are provided by a dentist, hygienist, & dental assistant. BRCHS currently employs a psychiatrist and a counselor, who will provide behavioral health services to Brevard Health Center patients. All services are provided in a culturally competent manner.

“The half-century of experience BRCHS has in meeting the needs of the medically underserved means the BHC is well-positioned not only to meet the escalating need for access to primary care, but to have a long-term positive impact on the health and well-being of the residents of Transylvania County,” said Shannon Dowler M.D. Chief Medical Director at BRCHS. “We are grateful to The Community Foundation and the Transylvania Endowment for assisting us in purchasing the medical and dental equipment we need to be able to do this.”

BRCHS has been serving Hendersonville and the surrounding communities for almost 50 years in an effort to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental and mental health care as well as promote health awareness/education. If you would like more information about BRCHS, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at P. O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC  28793; or online at or

The Community Foundation of WNC is a nonprofit serving eighteen counties in Western North Carolina. The Transylvania Endowment is an affiliate of the Foundation and was created by local individuals dedicated to supporting the charitable needs of Transylvania County communities. The Foundation is a permanent regional resource that facilitates more than $8 million in charitable giving annually. CFWNC inspires philanthropy and mobilizes resources to enrich lives and communities in Western North Carolina. More information can be found at

November is Men’s Health Awareness Month

Written By: Matthew Goddard, PAC

An unfortunate statistic of the western world is the decreased life expectancy experienced by men in comparison with that of women. While advances in disease prevention and treatment have allowed both men and women to enjoy more years of life, the male half of the population continues to lag behind women in longevity. Although men may be genetically predisposed to a greater risk of specific diseases, much of their decrease in life span is caused by a failure to practice beneficial lifestyle habits, including paying attention to health and nutrition, exercising, and receiving regular health and wellness checkups. Decades of neglect of one's health and nutrition renders the use of vitamins and other health supplements of critical importance.

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting 1 in 6 men. But who is most at risk of getting prostate cancer and why? There are several major factors that influence risk, and some of them unfortunately cannot be changed. These include: height, lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle, high calcium intake, being of African-American race, family history, Agent Orange exposure, a diet low in vegetables and smoking.

Age: the older you are, the more likely you are to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Although only 1 in 10,000 men under age 40 will be diagnosed, the rate shoots up to 1 in 38 for ages 40 to 59, and 1 in 15 for ages 60 to 69. In fact, more than 65% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65. The average age at diagnosis of prostate cancer in the United States is 69 years. After that age, the chance of developing prostate cancer becomes more common than any other cancer in men or women.

Race: African-American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer compared with Caucasian men and are nearly 2.5 times as likely to die from the disease. Conversely, Asian men who live in Asia have the lowest risk.

Family history/genetics: a man with a father or brother who developed prostate cancer is twice as likely to develop the disease. This risk is further increased if the cancer was diagnosed in family members at a younger age (less than 55 years of age) or if it affected three or more family members.

Where you live: For men in the U.S., the risk of developing prostate cancer is 17%. For men who live in rural China, it’s 2%. However, when Chinese men move to the western culture, their risk increases substantially. Men who live in cities north of 40 degrees latitude (north of Philadelphia, PA, Columbus, OH, and Provo, UT, for instance) have the highest risk for dying from prostate cancer of any men in the United States. This effect appears to be mediated by inadequate sunlight during three months of the year, which reduces vitamin D levels.

What can you do about it to prevent or delay the onset of the disease?

  • Eat fewer calories or exercise more so that you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Try to keep the amount of fat you get from red meat and dairy products to a minimum.
  • Watch your calcium intake. Do not take supplemental doses far above the recommended daily allowance. Some calcium is OK, but avoid taking more than 1,500 mg of calcium a day.
  • Eat more fish – evidence from several studies suggest that fish can help protect against prostate cancer because they have "good fat" particularly omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid trans fatty acids (found in margarine).
  • Try to incorporate cooked tomatoes that are cooked with olive oil, which has also been shown to be beneficial, and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower) into many of your weekly meals. Soy and green tea are also potential dietary components that may be helpful.
  • Avoid smoking for many reasons. Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
  • Seek medical treatment for stress, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and depression. Treating these conditions may save your life and will improve your survivorship with prostate cancer Avoid over-supplementation with megavitamins. Too many vitamins, especially folate, may “fuel the cancer”, and while a multivitamin is not likely to be harmful, if you follow a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils you likely do not even need a multivitamin.
  • Relax and enjoy life. Reducing stress in the workplace and home will improve your survivorship and lead to a longer, happier life.
  • Finally, eating all of the broccoli in the world does not take away your risk of having prostate cancer right now. If you are age 50 or over, if you are age 40 or over and African-American or have a family history of prostate cancer, you need more than a good diet can guarantee. You should consider a yearly rectal examination and PSA test, and you should discuss the risks and benefits of these screening procedures with your doctor.


Testicular Cancer: from 2005-2009, the median age at diagnosis for cancer of the testis was 33 years of age. Approximately 6.2% were diagnosed under age 20; 47.9% between the ages of 20-34; 25.7% between 35 and 44; 13.9% between 45 and 54; 4.3% between 55 and 64; 1.2% between 65 and 74; 0.6% between 75 and 84; and 0.2% 85+ years of age. The incidence rate was 5.4 per 100,000 men per year. The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump on a testicle. In some cases the lump is uncomfortable, but severe pain is rare. Sometimes the testicle may be enlarged or swollen without a lump. Men with testicular cancer may also have a heavy or aching feeling in the lower belly or scrotum. Each normal testicle has an epididymis, which feels like a small bump on the upper or middle outer side of the testis. Normal testicles also contain blood vessels, supporting tissues, and tubes that carry sperm. All these things can feel bumpy, and sometimes men confuse these structures with cancer. If you have any doubts, ask a doctor

Men's Health Month Awareness provides a much needed reminder to men of all ages to take an active role in their health and wellness, in order to fulfill tomorrow's promise of extra years spent in optimum physical condition. If you have any questions or would like more information about men’s health or screening exams see your doctor for further discussion and testing or call 828.692.4289 to make an appointment at BRCHS.


Matthew Goddard, PA-C is a physician’s assistant with Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS). BRCHS has been serving Hendersonville and the surrounding communities for more than 47 years in an effort to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental and mental health care as well as promote health awareness/education.  If you would like more information about BRCHS, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at

P. O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC  28793; or online at and

The Brevard Health Center Now Open and Accepting New Patients

Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS) is pleased to announce the grand opening of its newest site, the Brevard Health Center in Brevard, NC. The Center offers medical, dental, nutrition, and behavioral health services, as well as pharmaceutical assistance. Open five daysa week, the Brevard Health Center is currently accepting new patients. Please call 883-5550 to make an appointment. Walk-In patient appointments are also accepted daily, for both medical and dental care.


Located at 89 Hospital Drive, the Center recently underwent extensive renovations, including installation of state-of-the-art medical exam rooms, dental exam rooms, and behavioral health consult rooms. The Brevard Health Center staff includes two medical providers (a family physician and a nurse practitioner), clinical support personnel, a part-time dietitian, and a practice manager. Dental services are provided by a dentist, hygienist, & dental assistant. BRCHS currently employs a psychiatrist and a counselor, who will provide behavioral health services to Brevard Health Center patients.


Medicare, Medicaid and most major insurances are accepted. For those who are not insured, services are offered on a sliding fee discount, but no one is turned away because of their inability to pay. Medications are offered at a discount to BHC patients through the BRCHS 340B pharmacy program.


“The need for access to primary care services continues to grow across the area, particularly among the uninsured and underinsured,” said Shannon Dowler M.D. Chief Medical Director at BRCHS. “We have positioned ourselves to be responsive to this critical need with this new site, which allows us to increase access to care for Transylvania County residents through BRCHS’s model of Quality Care, Accessibility to our patients, and Affordability to all who walk through our doors.”


The Brevard Health Center will hold a Community Grand Opening Event on Saturday, November 10 from 1-4 pm. The event will have free food, games and prizes and will provide dental, glucose and blood pressure screenings. The flu vaccine will also be available. Children are encouraged to bring their favorite stuffed animal to participate in the Teddy Bear First Aid station.


BRCHS has been serving Hendersonville and the surrounding communities for almost 50 years in an effort to provide high quality, affordable medical, dental and behavioral health care as well as promote health awareness/education.  If you would like more information about BRCHS, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at P. O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC  28793; or online at or

BRCHS and MAHEC Enter Agreement for Dental Services

(Hendersonville, NC) Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS) and Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) are pleased to announce that they have entered into an agreement where MAHEC will provide administrative and clinical leadership for the BRCHS Dental practices. Under the agreement, the MAHEC Division Director of General Dentistry, William (Bill) Ryals, DMD, will also be serving as the BRCHS Dental Director.


“This agreement moves us one step closer to creating a learning environment for both dentists and physicians that focuses on the integration of oral health and primary care for the uninsured and underserved,” said Shannon Dowler, MD, BRCHS Chief Medical Officer. “We’re very excited to welcome Dr. Ryals to our team of providers. It is evident that he and MAHEC share our commitment to improving the health of the communities we serve.”


BRCHS is the primary provider of dental services for low-income children and adults in Henderson County. While dental decay has decreased significantly during the last decade because of community fluoridation and other factors, low-income families have not benefited as greatly as others from this decrease and still remain at significant risk for dental disease. Last year the dental clinic provided 10,885 dental encounters, and more than 73 percent of the dental patients are uninsured.


The Dental Residency Program at MAHEC, now in its sixth year, is a postdoctoral program designed to expand the dental school graduates’ knowledge and skills to enable them to provide comprehensive oral health care to a wide range of population groups. Oral health is viewed as an integral and interactive part of total health and treatment of the medically complex patient is emphasized in the program. Four dental residents complete the program each year. The 2012 graduates all remained in North Carolina to practice dentistry.

“North Carolina is currently experiencing a shortage of dental health professionals, especially in rural and underserved areas of the state. I’m excited to be part of a program that targets the unmet dental needs here in our region,” commented Dr. Ryals. “Oral health and primary care go hand in hand and together MAHEC and BRCHS will improve the health of the citizens in our communities.”

 BRCHS has been serving Hendersonville and the surrounding communities for nearly 50 years in an effort to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental and mental health care as well as promote health awareness/education.  If you would like more information about BRCHS, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at P. O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC  28793; or online at or

Grant Funding Will Increase Access to Health Care in Brevard

(Brevard, NC) Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS) has been awarded over $550,000 in grant funding made available by the Affordable Care Act to open a new health clinic in Brevard that will increase access to affordable, comprehensive health services in Transylvania County.

The new “Brevard Health Center” will offer a full spectrum of health care services for all residents of Transylvania County and neighboring communities, including primary care for adults and children, dental services, medication assistance, and behavioral health. The Center will accept most insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare. However, the Center’s mission will be to improve access for low-income individuals and will accept patients without insurance on a sliding scale that is based on family size and household income.

 “Patients without insurance often put off seeking important preventive and ongoing care for chronic conditions, which can lead to acute conditions and serious challenges to managing one’s care. This makes our role as a community health center that much more important”, said Shannon Dowler, MD, BRCHS Chief Medical Officer. “At Brevard Health Center, we will be in a position to work together with our patients so that they are truly able to take an active, appropriate role in managing their care”.

The Brevard Health Center has been a goal of BRCHS for several years. “The need to increase access to a medical home for the uninsured in Transylvania County was brought to our attention by community leaders over two years ago,” said Jennifer Henderson, CEO of BRCHS. “We had previously applied for this expansion grant in 2010, but the grant was unfunded in the first round. We are thrilled to receive this funding and look forward to working with our new partners in Transylvania County to improve access to health care.”

The clinic is scheduled to begin seeing patients by October 1, in its planned location at 89 Hospital Drive in Brevard.

BRCHS has been serving western North Carolina for almost 50 years in an effort to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental, school and behavioral health care as well as promote health awareness/education.  If you would like more information about BRCHS, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at P. O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC  28793; or online at or

BRCHS Dedicates New Medical Building in Honor of Former CEO

Times-News Article 01-26-2012

Governor Proclaims Celebration of NC School Health Centers

(Hendersonville, NC): Governor Beverly Purdue has issued a proclamation that sets aside February 19-25, 2012, as North Carolina School Community Health Alliance week.

The Governor states that school health centers “provide the physical and mental health care that is critical to the overall well-being of youth in North Carolina. Optimal physical and mental health of students leads to optimal academic achievement.” The centers also positively impact the economy by reducing emergency room visits, by decreasing parental absences from work, and by increasing early identification and treatment of disease, thus preventing more expensive treatment at a later date.

“Through our partnership with Henderson County Public Schools, BRCHS now has four school-based health centers (SBHCs) in Henderson County providing medical, dietary, and behavioral health services for youth and school faculty right where they are – at school,” said Dr. Paul Trani, Medical Director of the School Based Health Centers and BRCHS Pediatrician.  “Often times, we are providing a medical home for children who have no primary care provider.”

BRCHS operates health centers at Bruce Drysdale and Hillandale Elementary, Apple Valley Middle School and North Henderson High School to help ensure that children in Henderson County have access to regular check-ups, immunizations, diagnoses, management of chronic conditions, a place to turn for sudden illness or injury, mental health counseling, nutrition services and health education.

Staff from Blue Ridge will be offering free health screenings as well as educational programs at various schools in conjunction with NC School Community Health Alliance week. Also on the horizon, BRCHS will host its third annual “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” special event on Thursday, March 29 at 6:30 p.m. at North Henderson High School. This special event serves as both a fundraiser and an awareness opportunity for Blue Ridge Community Health Services and their school health programs. For more information about BRCHS, School Based Health Centers or the “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” special event, contact Milton Butterworth at 233-2225 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

BRCHS has been serving Hendersonville and the surrounding communities for almost 50 years in an effort to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental and mental health care as well as promote health awareness/education.  If you would like more information about BRCHS, call 692-4289 ext. 2509; write to BRCHS at P. O. Box 5151, Hendersonville, NC  28793; or online at or


# # #

Blue Ridge Opens New Medical Home

WLOS ABC-TV Health Alert 11-22-2011

Local Non-Profits Provide Dental Care To Children Whose Families Can’t Afford It

Times-News Article 11-22-2011

Jennifer Henderson, BRCHS CEO, Non-Profit Business Woman of the Year

Press Release 11-21-2011

Blue Ridge Community Health Services Holds Grand Opening

Press Release 11-3-2011

BRCHS Introduces New Medical Facility to Major Donors, Elected Officials and Community Partners

Press Release 10-26-2011

BRCHS Opens New Medical Facility

Times-News Article 10-26-2011

BRCHS Announces Grand Opening 10/29

Press Release 10-17-2011

BRCHS New Medical Building Story Featured In National Blog

National Association of Community Health Centers Blog Article

BRCHS Physician Named Officer of NC Pediatric Society

Press Rease 8-30-2011

BRCHS Offers August Lunch & Learn

Press Release - 8-22-2011

BRCHS Celebrates 2011 National Health Center Week

Press Release 8-19-2011

Access Endangered: Profiles of the Medically Disenfranchised

Access Endangered: Profiles of the Medically Disenfranchised (NACHC Aug 2011)

2011 National Health Center Week Media Advisory

Media Advisory Excerpt 8-9-2011

Blue Ridge Board Chair Is Times-News "Be Our Guest" for National Health Center Week

Times-News "Be Our Guest" 8-9-11

BRCHS Part of Community Effort to Address Health Care in Transylvania County

Transylvania Times Article 8-8-2011

$500,000 in Thirty Days!

Press Release 8-1-2011

Blue Ridge Welcomes New MD

Press Release 8-1-2011

Medical Facility Offering Hope Should Be Complete By October

Times News Article 7-23-2011

BRCHS Offers July Lunch & Learn

Press Release 7-18-2011

BRCHS Board News

Press Release 7-18-2011

Blue Ridge to Expand Mental Health Services in Schools

Press Release  7-14-2011

BRCHS Chief Medical Officer Appointed to State Board

Press Release 7-12-2011

BRCHS Offers June Lunch & Learn

Press Release 6-21-2011

Kimberley Skelton Joins BRHCS Behavioral Health Team

Press Release 5-11-2011

What To Do About Those Thick Toenails – Getting Rid of Toenail Fungus

Press Release - English

Press Release - Spanish

Federal Budget Cuts May Impact the Uninsured in Transylvania County

Press Release 04-21-2011

Emerging Leader Identified at Blue Ridge

BRCHS Medical Provider Receives National Award

BRCHS Seeking Last Million

Bold Life Article April 2011

Blue Ridge Offers April Lunch & Learns

Press Release 03-28-2011

BRCHS Kicks Off Public Phase of Capital Campaign

Press Release 03-04-2011

Blue Ridge Offers March Lunch & Learns

Press Release 02-28-2011

Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval

Times News Article 2-24-2011

BRCHS Celebrates National School-Based Health Center Month

Press Release 2-19-2011

Times News Be Our Guest 2-21-2011

Blue Ridge "Goes Red" For Women's Heart Health

Press Release 2-2-2011

Times News Article 2-3-2011

Citizen Times Article 2-3-2011

BRCHS Offers February Lunch and Learn Series

Press Release 1-31-2011

BR Helps Illustrate Importance of Community Foundation

Times-News Article 1-23-2011

Blue Ridge Receives Joint Commission Accreditation

Press Release 1-24-2011

Times News Article 1-25-2011

Blue Ridge Doctor Installed As VP of NC Academy of Family Physicians

Citizen Times Article 1-2-2011

Community Foundation Supports BRCHS New Medical Facility

Press Release 1-17-11

Eat Lunch, Learn About BRCHS

 Times News Community Briefs 1-17-2011

Blue Ridge Outreach Partners with Winterlight Youth Conference

Kanuga News Article Winter 2010

Mountain Xpress Article 12/22/2010

Blue Ridge Community Health Gives Presentation at Kiwanis Club

Kiwanis Club Newsletter Highlights of the Meeting 12-30-2010

New Health Center Plans Progressing

Transylvania Times Article 12-16-2010

Transylvania Expansion Plans Gain Support

Times News Article 12-17-2010.jpg

BRCHS Offers Lunch and Learn Series

Times News High Interest & HealthBriefs 11-30-2010

Physician Joins Blue Ridge Health

Times News Article 12-02-2010

BRCHS Receives $5M for New Medical Facility

Citizen Times Article 10-09-2010

Times News Article 10-09-2010

BRCHS New Building Project Awarded $150,000

Times News Article 10-07-2010

BRCHS Welcomes New Dentist

BRCHS Welcomes New Dentist

Times News High Interest 10-06-2010 

BRCHS Considering Expansion in Transylvania County

Times News Article 9-23-2010

Times News Article 9-29-2010

Times News Editorial 9-30-2010

BRCHS CEO Speaks at Business Morning Update

BRCHS CEO Speaks at Business Morning Update

Times News article 09-09-2010

Times News Business "High Interest" 09-07-2010

BRCHS Opens New School Based Health Center and Holds Fundraiser in Support

BRCHS Opens New School Based Health Center and Holds Fundraiser in Support

WLOS News video clip 09-03-2010

National Health Center Week Celebration a Big Success

National Health Center Week Celebration a Big Success

Press Release 08-13-2010

Blue Ridge Community Health Services Welcomes New Psychiatrist

Blue Ridge Community Health Services Welcomes New Psychiatrist

Press Release 07-21-2010

Planning Board OKs Preliminary Site Plan for a New Health Center

Planning Board OKs Preliminary Site Plan for a New Health Center

Times News article 07-14-2010


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