By Jackie Medland
President/CNO, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital
Last month we were pleased to share the announcement of the much-anticipated agreement between Mission Health and HCA Healthcare (HCA), which is now with the North Carolina Attorney General for review. As part of this process, I would like to begin this column by acknowledging and expressing my tremendous gratitude to our Highlands-Cashiers Board of Trustees. Their leadership, support and recent collaboration to address questions and concerns reflect our shared purpose – to ensure access to high-quality healthcare for our community members well into the future.
An important aspect of healthcare is remembering that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s about so much more than pink ribbons. Highlands-Cashiers Hospital (HCH) is invested in empowering women to take responsibility for their wellbeing. Education about self-care – like annual physical exams and mammograms – and a good relationship with a primary care provider are keys to a woman’s ability to take charge of her own health.
Since our thoughts turn to breast cancer prevention this month, you should know that our primary care providers – who are truly patient partners – regularly discuss self-care practices with their patients, like routine physical activity and the importance of learning about their family health histories. Our providers also make important health recommendations to our patients, which are constantly being updated. For example, did you know that the recommendations regarding routine breast exams have changed over the last several years, including that screening mammograms should start between 40 and 44 years of age? Women are also advised to gain familiarity with what “normal” is for their breasts – their appearance, and how they feel.
Should a woman in our community find herself to be one of the 1-in-8 women who does receive a breast cancer diagnosis, she can rest assured that she will have the broad array of cutting edge treatments and survivorship support that Mission Health offers. And, through our anticipated partnership with HCA Healthcare, the communities of western North Carolina will have increased access to the very latest in cancer research through top tier programs, like HCA’s renowned Sarah Cannon Cancer Center.
Our October Evening With the Docs  will be hosted by Dr. Patti Wheeler, a talented and invested physician whose 30 years of community service we recently celebrated. We’re fortunate that this connected caregiver, who knows our community so well, will be on hand to dispense practical information on how women can take responsibility for their breast health, and what to expect if they receive a breast cancer diagnosis. We’ll also offer an opportunity that night, for women to receive their mammography screenings. The evening promises to be a fun way to get an important health screening checked off your list, while enjoying chair massages and a surprise giveaway. The event will take place on Thursday, October 18th, from 5:30-7pm in the Jane Woodruff Room, Suite 103 at HCH. We encourage those who wish to attend to reserve their seat by calling Brittany Dryman at 828-526-1345 .
HCH will continue to provide some of the very best healthcare, and clinicians, in the nation – for all patients. The combination of our new partnership with HCA and the service of devoted, seasoned providers like Dr. Wheeler, mean that the patient wins, and the Plateau is poised to become even stronger and healthier.
Jacqueline “Jackie” Medland, PhD, RN, has been the President and Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) of Highlands-Cashiers Hospital for the past 19 months. Jackie has enjoyed a career as a healthcare leader for over 30 years, including positions in direct patient care, advanced practice nursing, nursing management and hospital administration. Based in the Chicago-metro area for most of her career, Jackie served in both academic and rural settings. Prior to her arrival at Mission Health, Jackie was the Regional Chief Nurse Executive for Presence St. Mary’s Hospital and Presence St. Joseph Medical Center, the flagship hospital for the largest Catholic healthcare system in Illinois, recently accredited by ANCC as a Magnet organization under her leadership. In addition to her extensive background in hospital operations, Jackie owned and operated a healthcare consulting practice, and served as clinical faculty at the University of Illinois, College of Nursing. Jackie is uniquely prepared in change management having received her PhD in Organization Development from Benedictine University. Jackie’s unique leadership and mentorship was recognized by the University of Illinois, College of Nursing with the Sage Award.