Health briefs: Great nurses, funding awards and programs for autism

GREAT WORK: Six Mission Health nurses were among North Carolina’s Great 100 Nurses for 2019. The honorees, left to right, are Hope Cucchi, Anna Gerhardt, Brooke Graham, George Alan Sessoms, Margaret Holmes and Melissa Woodbury. Photo courtesy of Mission Health

‘Tis the season…

…for many funding decisions to be announced. Several local providers of health care and related services recently received word of significant grant awards.

Buncombe County announced two funding awards totaling over $1 million to address the opioid abuse crisis. A Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program grant in the amount of $878,803 from the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Office of Civil Rights and U.S. Office of Justice Programs will provide psychological, medical and social support to people who have recently overdosed or are at high risk of overdose from opioids. And a three-year, $275,000 Community Linkages to Care grant from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services will assist high-risk individuals upon release from jail. According to a county press release, research from UNC Chapel Hill shows that people with opioid use disorder exiting incarceration are 40 times more likely than other state residents to die of opioid overdose in the two weeks following release.

The Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina Foundation awarded over $1 million in grants statewide. Six Western North Carolina organizations received $225,000 of that money, including Blue Ridge Literacy Council of Hendersonville ($20,000), Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry Doctors’ Medical Clinic of Asheville ($50,000),  Community Housing Coalition of Madison County of Marshall ($45,000), OnTrack Financial Education and Counseling of Asheville ($45,000), Interfaith Assistance Ministry of Hendersonville ($40,000) and Working Wheels of Asheville ($25,000).

Pisgah Health Foundation, the successor to the Transylvania Regional Hospital Foundation, announced its provisional approval of 46 programs to receive a total of $2.5 million following the foundation’s preliminary review of over $30 million in requests. Grant totals by category include food and food insecurity, $210,313; determinants of health, $984,525; social cohesion, $399,950; education, $631,450; and housing, $342,500. According to the foundation’s website, nonprofits will be notified of final grant awards in February.

Tips of the hat

  • Six Mission Health nurses were among North Carolina’s Great 100 Nurses for 2019: Hope Cucchi, Anna Gerhardt, Brooke Graham, George Alan Sessoms, Margaret Holmes and Melissa Woodbury.
  • Four Seasons, then called Hospice of Henderson County, was founded in 1979. Since then, the organization has expanded to serve 11 counties in Western North Carolina through care navigation, home care, palliative care, hospice care, inpatient care at Elizabeth House in Hendersonville, grief services and clinical research. As it celebrates its 40th anniversary, Four Seasons is caring for over 400 hospice patients and over 1,200 palliative care patients a day.

For community members with autism

The transition from high school to college or a career can be challenging for students with autism. A new class offering, Transition to Employment and Postsecondary Education Program, will be available at no cost to qualifying students with autism ages 16-21 at A-B Tech during the spring 2020 semester.

According to a press release from the UNC TEACCH Autism Program, which developed the training, “The T-STEP was created to address high college failure and unemployment rates among adults with autism spectrum disorders. … The T-STEP is a combination of college seminar class, internship and self-advocacy counseling to help autistic students successfully transition into adulthood.”

More information is available at

On Saturday, Jan. 25, 9 a.m. to noon, the Asheville Regional Airport will host the fifth annual Wings for Autism event, which simulates an air travel experience for people on the autism spectrum and their families or caregivers. More information is available at

On the move

  • Dr. Charles DePaolo, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine physician, has joined Southeastern Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, a department of Pardee UNC Health Care. DePaolo specializes in joint reconstructive surgery of the shoulder, hip and knee and associated procedures.
  • Dr. Denise Ingram will begin seeing patients at The Family Health Centers of Asheville, Arden and Hominy Valley on Monday, Feb. 3. She will work at the company’s Arden location at 2161 Hendersonville Road. 

Low-cost braces screening Jan. 25

On Saturday, Jan. 25, orthodontist Dr. Timothy Scanlan will screen children ages 7-21 who need braces but whose families are not able to afford them. Scanlan has committed to donate approximately $150,000 in orthodontic care to local children through the Smiles Change Lives nonprofit, according to a press release. 

In addition to the age requirement, children must have good oral hygiene, not currently wear braces and have a moderate to severe need for braces. Families must meet financial guidelines, which vary based on family size. For a family of four in Asheville, household income must be below $73,800. The family must submit an application fee of $30 and, if selected, a program fee of $650. 

More information and registration are available at



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