The Health First Center
Catawba Valley Medical Center launched the Health First Center in the fall of 2002. Today, the center employees five RNs, Sharon Smith, RN, MSN; Debbie Leger, RN, BSN, CCRN; Julie Collins, RN; Marie Wimmer, RN, BSN; Peggy Messick RN, BSN, ONC. The Health First Center operates six days per week and serves as a health resource and education center for the community. The Center provides community classes, programs and screenings. The screening programs include hearing, vision, skin cancer, bone density, cholesterol, glucose, stroke risk, prostate cancer, diabetic foot screenings and oral cancer screenings.
The Health First Center’s focus on our community is seen through the variety of health programs it brings to the population served. These programs include such events as an Annual Safe Kids Day; a Men’s Health event at Crawdads Stadium; the Annual Catawba Valley Women’s Show; a Senior Resource Fair; an Annual Diabetes Fair; Babies R Us Baby Fair; first aid stations at the PGA Tournament at Rock Barn; and also numerous health fairs, including the Terrell Community Health Fair, Ridgeview Community Health Fair, Maiden Health Fair and Startown Health Fair.
The Center also partners with many other community organizations and other CVMC departments to provide health related programs. These collaborations include the CVMC Parish Nurse Program, the Catawba County School Nurse Program, the Centro Latino Community, Valley Hills Mall, Council on Aging, Catawba County Public Health, ALFA, Adult Life Programs,Western Piedmont Council of Governments, the Hmong Association, AARP,the American Cancer Society, the March of Dimes, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and many others. To be able to provide the numerous community programs, the Health First Center calls upon other CVMC staff to volunteer their time and talents. Registered nursing staff are recognized for these volunteer hours through PEP. Other licensed staff provides a variety of classes taught at the Health First Center and also contribute articles for the monthly calendar. In addition to the community programs, the Health First Center also offer volunteer and internship opportunities for students from the high school level to those in Masters programs, as well as teens in the Volunteen program during the summer months.
Carol Robinson coordinates The Lifeline Program which provides personal emergency response systems to older and handicapped individuals to assist them to stay safely and independently in their own homes. She works closely with CVMC discharge planners and social workers to ensure anyone that is discharged from the hospital is aware of the services Lifeline has to offer. Currently, there are over 1,110 individuals in the community that subscribe to this service. Philips Healthcare, the manufacturer of Lifeline, has an indigent program through which CVMC is provided 10 Lifeline subscriptions at no charge to offer to individuals.
Carol also works with the Community Alternative Programs in Catawba, Alexander, Lincoln, Burke and Watauga Counties to provide Lifeline for their patients.
The Health First Center visits area churches and other senior groups to provide education on fall prevention strategies and the services of Lifeline. In addition, information about Lifeline is provided to discharge planners at area nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Coordinated by Debbie Leger, RN, BSN, CCRN, the Health First Center offers a variety of programs and services geared towards youth. These include a permanent car seat checking station for car seat inspection and installation located within the Center’s Valley Hills Mall location and serving as the NC Buckle Up car seat distribution site for Catawba County. Other youth programs include the Carolina Kids Club; Kids Corner Summer camp programs; babysitter classes for teens; the Medical Explorer program; and serving as a field trip location for school age children in daycare settings, elementary schools and Challenger high school. Youth education efforts are focused on areas of need based on national and local health and safety statistics. These programs are offered through classes at the Health First Center, at community health fairs, and during the Annual Safe Kids Day programs. Riskwatch, a safety curriculum education, is offered in local schools and daycare facilities. Health and safety education programs are also offered for local churches, scout groups, parenting groups and other groups as the opportunity presents.
CVMC is the lead agency for the Safe Kids Catawba County Coalition and Debbie serves as the coalition’s coordinator. The Health First Center partners with a number of other community agencies in an effort to improve the health and safety of our children including NC Safe Kids; the Catawba County Public Health Department and School Nurse Program and the Council on Adolescents of Catawba County.
Sharon Smith, RN, MSN coordinates the community outreach program and the women’s health education. This program offers such services as Infant CPR classes for parents, grandparents and caregivers and community education classes on woman’s health issues. Lamaze classes and programs for women facing the menopause years expands the services to women across generations.
Another service provided is the Mobile Mammography which reached approximately 3700 in woman in 2009 by offering onsite mammograms to various locations throughout the community. CVMC also partners with Catawba County Public Health to offer 150 free mammograms each year to women who otherwise would not have the opportunity for this potential life-saving screening.
Obstetrics and Pediatrics
Marie Wimmer, RN, BSN and Julie Collins, RN collaborate with area physician offices to provide the most current information to expectant families. They also coordinate Health First classes geared towards expectant parents. Another important service offered by Health First is the Pregnancy Loss Support Group to assist parents and families after the loss of a child. Other education includes preventative measures to reduce SIDS and Shaken Baby Syndrome through Baby Care classes which are offered numerous times each year. Together they coordinate Lamaze instruction and grandparenting classes as well as Sibling tours of the Birthing Center. Other services include a Breastfeeding Support group and lactation education, as well as the “Lactation Station” which offers a variety of lactation supplies and accessories.
Health 4 Us Employee Wellness
Julie Collins, RN partners with Patti Moore, RD to coordinate the CVMC Health 4 Us Employee Wellness program. This program offers two health screenings per year to employees. The screenings are offered at no cost to employees and provide lab work for tracking outcomes and gathering aggregate data on overall employee health. The program also provides a physician led working wellness program for those employees identified with abnormal values requiring improvements. Active wellness programs for those employees that currently have normal values and need encouragement and support to continue healthy lifestyles are also offered. Wellness education classes are offered through a variety of resources, including on-site classes and HealthStream Education.
Cancer Resource Center
Peggy Messick, RN, BSN, OCN serves Health First and the community as a Cancer Resource Nurse. Health First provides cancer prevention and early detection classes at the Center’s mall location in addition to community health fairs. Cancer support groups for breast, laryngectomy and a general cancer group meet at the Center. Other cancer related services include annual cancer survivor celebrations held at Christmas and on National Cancer Survivors Day and in collaboration with the American Cancer Society providing cancer information on specific diseases as well as survivor events. Peggy also serves as the team captain for both the Relay for Life and Race for the Cure of which CVMC serves as a corporate sponsor.
CVMC is part of the Catawba County Breast Cancer Coalition which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2009. Peggy serves as the Chair of the Coalition and Brenda Putnam, also a CVMC employee, serves as the Coordinator. Other CVMC members of the Coalition include Carolyn Thompson, BSN, RN and Crystal Shepherd, BSN, RN, The Coalition provides breast self exam classes; sponsors health fairs; manages the community Wig Bank; coordinates local volunteers to produce mastectomy camisoles and pillows, turbans and other head coverings; sponsors an annual Breast Cancer Awareness event; and provides yoga classes for breast cancer survivors. Supportive services offered by the Coalition include Reach to Recovery; Look Good, Feel Better; I Can Cope education; as well as two support groups. In 2009, the Coalition also hosted a breast cancer seminar.
CVMC is also active with the NC Foothills Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Peggy Messick and Brenda Putnam have served on the board for four years as the volunteer chair and member of the volunteer committee respectively. On April 1, 2009 Peggy became the affiliate president with Brenda serving as the volunteer chair.
Another Breast Cancer Awareness event is the annual “Pamper Me Pink” celebration held each year during October at the Health First Center. Women stopping by the Center receive a gift bag with cancer information and goodies as well as the opportunity to sign up for door prizes.
CVMC also partners with the Catawba County Public Health Partners in the Cancer Task Force on colon and prostate cancer. This task force provides such services as two annual prostate cancer screenings, with one screening targeting a minority community; sponsors the Minority Men Prostate Health Breakfast and hosts a Prostate Cancer Survivors’ Celebration. On February 26, 2009, the Cancer Task Force kicked off Colon Cancer Awareness Month for March 2009 with a media luncheon. This was followed with two newspaper articles. The event also introduced “Get Your Tests.” This American Cancer Society program is offered through primary care practices to start the discussion for cancer screenings. Patients receive a handout on recommended cancer screenings based on age and gender. A visual reminder is located in all physician office exam rooms. All practices with the Catawba Valley Medical Group (CVMG) received the training and served as the initial test sites before the program was offered to other community practices.
Health First also partners with local dermatologists and surgeons for skin cancer screenings twice a year; local ENT physicians for an annual oral cancer screening; and with local urologists and family medicine physicians for prostate cancer screenings.
Another focus of the Health First Center is cardiovascular disease and the impact it has on our community. Heart and stroke classes are offered to business, civic and church groups at no charge; heart and stroke information is provided at health fairs; monthly heart healthy nutrition classes are taught by a hospital dietitian along with monthly heart healthy cooking classes offered by the hospital chef; quarterly cholesterol screenings; and periodic stroke screenings are offered. Other programs aimed at getting people active are the Mall Walker and Walk Catawba Valley programs along with a bi-weekly aerobic class offered to those who participate in the Mall Walkers.
Through individual contacts at the Health First Center and through community events, the Center reaches more than 65,000 people each year. With such a variety of services offered, it is important for Center to be able to quantify which services make an impact and if there are other needs identified. This is accomplished through satisfaction surveys, individual testimonies, and by tracking lab results obtained through screenings to monitor for improvements. A new call center planned for the Health First Center will also provide tools to measure successes more accurately.
Though just a few of the services provided through the Health First Center have been highlighted, it is easy to see the Center is a valuable resource to CVMC and the community. Keep up the good work!