By Paul T. Choate
Feb. 20, 2013. This coming Saturday, Feb. 23, the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System will host Heart Shape 2013 at the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center to raise awareness about heart health and stroke prevention.
The event kicks off at 9 a.m. on Saturday. With February being American Heart Month, this is a great opportunity for community members to come out and get a free heart health screening.
At the event attendees can get a free blood pressure check and can also get a free EKG screening for pocket EKG cards. These cards, about the size of a credit card, are to be carried in case of a cardiac event. They allow medical personnel to quickly see what the patient’s EKG should be and if something is wrong.
From noon to 1 p.m., attendees will also get the chance to speak one-on-one with a cardiologist, with Dr. Peter Ashline and Dr. Joseph Halek present.
“We have really enhanced our cardiology services in the past year,” said Gillian Baker, ARHS vice president of corporate communications. “In the past year we’ve recruited some highly credentialed cardiologists.”
On Oct. 31, 2012, ARHS instituted advanced, state of the art cardiology services for patients with coronary artery disease. The services include both diagnostic and therapeutic modalities, which previously were only available only at larger medical facilities.
The Cardiology Center is under the direction of Dr. Paul Vignola. Dr. Vignola did his medical training at Yale University and his cardiology training at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital. More recently, Dr. Vignola has served as Chief of Cardiology, Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab and Director of Interventional Cardiology at Miami’s prestigious Mount Sinai Medical Center. He is recognized as being in the top one percent of cardiologists in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
Baker noted that this is also the kickoff celebration of the Wellness Center’s 15-year anniversary, which officially happens in March. Throughout the morning, there will be several free Wellness Center tours and class demonstrations. The demos will include introduction to yoga, spin, Zumba, water fitness and stretch and flex.
Since opening their doors in March 1998, the Wellness Center has become an extremely important part of the community, drawing nearly 3,000 members after the first couple years, far surpassing ARHS’s goal of 800 members by the end of the first year.
Richard Sparks, president and CEO of ARHS, attributes the Wellness Center’s overwhelming success to being the only place in the High Country where people could exercise and have their fitness needs addressed in an indoor facility, a welcomed necessity in a high elevation mountain community where weather patterns are often too unpredictable for daily outdoor fitness routines.
Throughout its history, active membership has always fluctuated. According to Wellness Center Director Jodi Cash, the Wellness Center currently has 2,300 active members and hopes to continue growing.
For more information on Heart Shape 2013, the ARHS Cardiology Center, the Wellness Center and anything else ARHS related, visit apprhs.org.
- Megan Northcote contributed to this article.