Impact Health hires executive director

NEW LEADER: Laurie Stradley joined Impact Health as executive director Oct. 24. Impact Health operates the Healthy Opportunities Pilot, a new Medicaid program that addresses social determinants of health. Photo courtesy of Impact Health

Laurie Stradley joined Impact Health as executive director Oct. 24.

Impact Health is a nonprofit created by Dogwood Health Trust to run the Healthy Opportunities Pilot, a new Medicaid program that addresses the social factors involved in health. It’s the first pilot in the nation to “test and evaluate the impact of providing select evidence-based, nonmedical interventions,” according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Stradley succeeds interim Executive Director Dionne Greenlee-Jones, who moved to a leadership role within the Healthy Opportunities Pilot.

Stradley’s experience includes chief program officer for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a children’s health nonprofit, and director of wellness for Mission Health.

Schools partner for pharmacy doctorate

Western Carolina University in Cullowhee is participating in a program that guarantees admission to the Eshelman School of Pharmacy PharmD program at UNC Chapel Hill. The Early Assurance Program assures admission for up to 10 current and incoming WCU students each year at Eshelman School of Pharmacy following a completion of required coursework.

Applications for the program are due in January. WCU students can apply to the partnership after completing one semester of classes. The program will run through 2027 with an option to renew.

For more information about the Early Assurance Program, contact WCU associate professor Jamie Wallen at or 828-227-3667.

Mission hosts opioid takeback event

HCA Healthcare is hosting a Crush the Crisis opioid takeback event with local law enforcement from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at Mission Hospital, 1 Hospital Drive.

The event will accept unused or expired opioid medication, which will then be safely discarded. These medications include codeine, fentanyl (Duragesic), hydrocodone (Norco, Lortab, Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), morphine, oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), oxymorphone (Opana) and tramadol (Ultram). Inhalers, needles, syringes, lancets or liquids will not be accepted.

For more information call 833-582-1970.

WCU awarded funds to expand Bingocize

Medicare and Medicaid Services has awarded a $1.2 million grant to Western Carolina University for a senior exercise program. WCU faculty will bring Bingocize — a combination of exercise, health education and the game bingo — to 45 North Carolina nursing homes over three years. Turner Goins, Ambassador Jeanette Hyde Distinguished Professor of Gerontological Social Work, will lead WCU faculty in the program.

Bingocize is an evidence-based program targeted at sedentary older adults. The exercises improve balance, strength and range of motion, and the game promotes social engagement.

Bingosize was created by Jason Crandall, co-director of the Center for Applied Science in Health and Aging at Western Kentucky University, which will partner with WCU to bring the game to North Carolina nursing homes. For more information visit

Jail, detention facility pass health inspection

The Buncombe County jail and the Buncombe County Detention Annex both passed inspections by the state Division of Public Health Environmental Health Sections Oct. 12, according to documents supplied by Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Aaron Sarver.

The jail received three demerits on the health inspection for water-damage stains on ceiling tile, rusted vents and missing grout and tiles. The detention center received zero demerits. Both facilities utilize a community water supply and water samples were not taken on this visit.

Couple host auction for stillbirth nonprofit

Jenna Crawford and Garry Wynn Crawford of Arden are hosting an online fundraising auction for PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy, a nonprofit seeking to end preventable stillbirth, through 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30. The auction features original artwork by Asheville-based artist Gus Cutty, among other artists, and is available at

The Crawfords are the parents of Abigail, who died in spring 2021 during her 38th or 39th week of gestation. Her parents are committed to educating others about perinatal loss, and postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress disorder experienced by bereaved parents.

For more information about stillbirth and perinatal loss resources visit

Eating disorder assessments available

Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders in Asheville is offering free clinical assessments for North Carolina residents with financial hardship or insurance barriers. The assessment by a contracted clinical provider will gather preliminary diagnostic information that will inform referrals for further treatment. The recipient may be the applicant or a child/dependent. An application is available at

LGBTQ+ survivors get VA benefits

The federal Department of Veterans Affairs announced Oct. 13 it is extending benefits for the survivors of LGBTQ+ veterans.

The 2015 Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges legalized marriage between same-sex partners. However, some survivors of LGBTQ+ veterans were ineligible for military benefits because they had not been legally married long enough to meet certain length-of-time requirements.

The VA will now factor in other indications of a union prior to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, such as establishment of a joint banking account or a commitment ceremony.

Contact Charles George Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center at 828-298-7911 for more information.

Movers and shakers

  • Mercy Urgent Care President and CEO Rachel Sossoman is the recipient of a 2022 Trailblazer Award by the magazine Business North Carolina.
  • Dr. Sukhmani K Gill, a medical hematologist and oncologist, has joined Pardee UNC Health Care. Dr. Gill is accepting new patients. To schedule an appointment, call 692-8045.
  • Dr. Vincent Gacad has joined Pardee Cardiology Associates. Dr. Gacad is accepting new patients. To schedule an appointment, call 697-7377.

Mark your calendars

  • Asheville Yoga Center is holding a workshop “Hosting Trans Inclusive Yoga Communities” from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29. Yoga teacher Allé K, who identifies as queer transmasculine, will discuss using inclusive language in the classroom, accessible bathrooms and changing facilities and other topics. The workshop is geared toward yoga teachers as well as students. Admission is $60 and can be purchased at
  • Asheville Vegan Society will host a vegan Halloween party from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at Weaverville Center for Healthy and Creative Living, 60 Lakeshore Drive, Weaverville. RSVP via
  • CareMore Health and Invision Diagnostics are offering free 3D mammograms for eligible individuals Monday, Oct. 31 at CareMore Health, 832 Henderson Road, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. To be eligible, a patient must have insurance, be 35 years and older, have not had a mammogram in the previous 12 months and not be pregnant or breastfeeding. Schedule an appointment at or by calling 274-1508.
  • The American Red Cross will host blood drives at: Pack Memorial Library, 67 Haywood St., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3; A-B Tech Coman Gym, 340 Victoria Road, 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3; Asheville Jewish Community Center, 236 Charlotte St., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8; and Asheville Outlets, 800 Brevard Road, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Friday, Nov. 25. Schedule an appointment at
  • Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders in Asheville hosts a weekly, gender-inclusive support group for adults 18 and older. The virtual group meets 6-7 p.m. every Wednesday; a new link for the meeting is sent every week. Meetings are free, open to the public and facilitated by a licensed therapist or dietitian specializing in eating disorders. To RSVP and receive the weekly link, email

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About Jessica Wakeman
Jessica Wakeman is an Asheville-based reporter for Mountain Xpress. She has been published in Rolling Stone, Glamour, New York magazine's The Cut, Bustle and many other publications. She was raised in Connecticut and holds a Bachelor's degree in journalism from New York University. Follow me @jessicawakeman

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