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News in Healthcare

Foundation funds expanded care in Highlands

Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation has announced a formal agreement to expand access to primary care on the Highlands-Cashiers plateau by funding a new practice that includes a rural teaching program in conjunction with UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC.

The partnership is with HCHF, Blue Ridge Health and the Mountain Area Health Education Center. This collaboration exemplifies the fulfillment of the HCHF’s mission to improve the health and well-being of Highlands, Cashiers, and surrounding communities.

“We acknowledge from the outset this project’s scope is wide and our goal and related objectives are ambitious requiring significant contributions of time, talent and treasure from the partners and members of the community,” said Dr. Walter Clark, Chair of the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation. “However, we know with the determination of these partners along with the philanthropic passion of this community, we are on the road to a true success.”

The partnership will work toward the goal of opening a primary care clinic in the Highlands-Cashiers area that will provide universal access to healthcare for the population of Highlands and Cashiers as well as the workforce that travels from other communities throughout Macon and Jackson Counties. 

More details will be announced in the coming months surrounding the timeline and physician team that will serve the area. In the meantime, residents can be assured that we are working toward access to universal, integrated healthcare and an increased supply of healthcare providers for the area. If you would like to support this endeavor, do not hesitate to contact HCHF at 828.482.6510 or visit


HRMC eases visitor restrictions

Haywood Regional Medical Center is transitioning from a zero-visitor protocol to limited visitor restrictions as the hospital gradually resumes elective and non-urgent cases and services at its facilities. 

The decision was made as current projections continue to indicate a lower than expected volume of COVID-19 in the region and after careful review of state and federal guidance. The updated restrictions, which will now allow inpatients to have one visitor or support person per day, between 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“We continue to monitor closely the prevalence of the virus in our community as we adapt our operations to safely care for and support our patients, and we feel confident that it is safe to begin allowing limited visitors again at this time,” said Chris Fensterle, interim CEO of HRMC. 

To help protect patients, providers, employees and the community, anyone entering the hospital will be screened for symptoms consistent with Covid-19 based on CDC guidelines. Each inpatient may have one well visitor per day. Healthy visitors must be at least 16 years old and will be required to wear a mask they bring from home during their visit. 

Visitors that don’t pass the screening at entry will be asked to reschedule their visit for when they are symptom free. 


Canton pool open for season

The Champion Credit Union Aquatics Facility opened to the public Monday, June 8, with several new rules and precautionary measures being taken to ensure the safety of both staff and patrons. 

The operation of the pool and these rules are subject to change as the town of Canton navigates the pandemic. Following Gov. Cooper’s Phase 2 regulations, currently 150 patrons are allowed within the facility and no more than 60 patrons allowed in the water at one time. To accommodate this, each patron will be provided 1 of 3 different color wristbands upon entry.  Swimmers of 1 particular color will be allowed to swim for a period of time, when that designated time has elapsed that color will be asked to get out of the water so that another colored wristband may circulate in and so forth. This is being done to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to swim and enjoy their time at the facility. 

Only Haywood County residents will be admitted — patrons 16+ must provide a valid ID or license for entry; all patrons under 16 must be accompanied by an adult; drop-offs are not allowed at this time; all patron’s temperatures will be screened at the gate. Anyone with a temperature over 98.9 degrees will not be allowed to enter the facility; adhere to 6 feet social distancing guidelines between groups. 

For more details, visit


Haywood Regional Medical Center earns highest quality ratings 

With its most recent report, released in April 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Five-Star Quality Rating System has recognized Home Care Services of Haywood Regional Medical Center with a 5-star rating in both quality and patient satisfaction. 

According to the data, the Waynesville home health provider achieved the highest rating possible in both categories. Home Care Services is a home health partner of HRMC and part of a joint venture partnership with LHC Group, a national provider of in-home healthcare services with 32,000 employees operating locations in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

The CMS Star Ratings – issued quarterly – are highly sought after by home health providers and seen as a key differentiator and indicator of overall quality and excellence in the home health industry. The star rating system was instituted by CMS as part of its Home Health Compare website to provide a “tool for consumers to use when choosing a home health care provider.” 

“It is more important than ever that local providers maintain their focus on quality care and service in helping safeguard the health and safety of the communities they serve,” said Keith Myers, LHC Group’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Our teammates at Home Care Services of Haywood Regional Medical Center are an excellent example of this commitment in action. The entire LHC Group family of in-home healthcare providers offers congratulations on their outstanding performance.”


Harris welcomes new surgeon 

Harris Regional Hospital recently welcomed board certified general surgeon Dr. Allison Palumbo to Harris Surgical Associates. 

Palumbo will be providing general surgery services to Jackson, Swain, Graham, and Macon counties and the surrounding region. She specializes in breast surgical oncology, including breast cancer genetics and high-risk breast cancer screening and has extensive training in lumpectomy as well as skin-sparing and nipple-sparing mastectomy techniques. Palumbo will also perform general surgery cases including hernia repair, gallbladder removal, and colon and small bowel resections.

Palumbo graduated from Marshall University School of Medicine and completed a general surgery residency at Wright State University in Dayton. Palumbo served in the United States Air Force as a general surgeon at MacDill Air Force Base. She was deployed to Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan where she served as chief of general surgery for the country’s largest hospital. 

Harris Surgical Associates is located at 98 Doctors Drive in Sylva. For more information, visit the Find a Doctor page on or call 828.586.3976.

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