Wellness roundup: Whooping cough cases rise in Buncombe County

PEDIATRIC PERIL: Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection that affects the respiratory tract. Symptoms begin with a mild cough that worsens into severe coughing fits. Image via iStock

Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services Public Health division has confirmed seven cases of whooping cough in children as of May 29. BCHHS is contacting by letter or phone parents, guardians and close contacts who may have been exposed.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection that affects the respiratory tract. Symptoms begin with a mild cough that worsens into severe coughing fits, which can lead to vomiting in young children. Whooping cough is dangerous for babies, who may experience brief pauses in breathing from the infection. Whooping cough spreads through coughing or sneezing.

“With the community spread of whooping cough in the region and multiple confirmed cases now in Buncombe County, we urge individuals and families to protect themselves and others,” says BCDHHS Public Health Director Dr. Ellis Matheson. “Vaccination remains the best defense and can also reduce the severity of the illness.” For more information about vaccinations available through BCDHHS, visit avl.mx/dr1.

Mission monitor meeting June 12

Affiliated Monitors, the independent monitor responsible for overseeing HCA Healthcare’s adherence to the terms of its purchase agreement for the Mission Health System, will hold a community meeting Wednesday, June 12, 5:30-7 p.m., at Ferguson Auditorium on Fernihurst Drive on the A-B Tech campus.

The June 12 community meeting will pertain to Mission Hospital; locations for additional community meetings for other hospitals in the HCA Healthcare system in Western North Carolina are at avl.mx/drd. All meetings are in-person and open to the public. Participants are asked to  preregister for their meeting at avl.mx/drc.

Boston-based Affiliated Monitors is the new independent monitor following a separation with Gibbins Advisors, a Nashville-based health care operations and restructuring consultancy. Gibbins was appointed as independent monitor in 2019 after the Nashville-based HCA purchased Mission for $1.5 billion. Following tense public meetings earlier this year regarding the quality of care at Mission Health and Gibbins’ oversight, in April Dogwood Health Trust selected the new independent monitor with consent from HCA and N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein. Independent monitors are paid by Dogwood Health Trust, a nonprofit that was created during the sale of Mission Health to HCA.

Nurse aide instructors sought

A-B Tech seeks nurse aide instructors for its Health Occupations Department. Nurse aide instructors must be approved by the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation, have an unencumbered license and have experience supervising nurse aides. A-B Tech has a waitlist of over 400 people seeking nurse aide certification, which is required for entry into several nursing programs. More information about nurse aide instruction is at avl.mx/dqt.

Meals on Wheels seeks volunteers

Haywood County Meals on Wheels seeks volunteers to distribute warm, nutritious meals to homebound individuals Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Volunteers pick up meals at the nonprofit’s kitchen between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. and deliver the meals by noon. Volunteers can be individuals or a group of friends, family or co-workers. Contact Cheryl McCracken at 828-356-2442 or Cheryl.McCracken@haywoodcountync.gov for more information.

Sneakers for kids

The Salvation Army of Hendersonville is providing new sneakers for school-aged children for the 2024-25 school year. A walk-in evening session to apply will be held Tuesday, June 11, 4:30-7 p.m., at the Salvation Army of Hendersonville fellowship hall, 239 Third Ave. E., Hendersonville. Social workers can also make applications by appointment Monday, June 24-Friday, July 12, by calling 828-693-4181. Sneakers will be distributed on Friday, Aug. 9. Parents or guardians must bring identification for themselves and each child.

WCU Nursing receives $2.1 million gift

The Western Carolina University School of Nursing in Cullowhee received a $2.1 million contribution from the Bedford Falls Foundation. Recipients will be called Conway Scholars, in honor of the late Joanne Conway, who established Bedford Falls along with her husband, Bill Conway. The gift will provide scholarships for undergraduate nursing students and support the hiring of additional faculty. For more information visit avl.mx/dqv.

Book club discusses Dopesick July 10

Buncombe County Public Libraries Books to Action book club will discuss Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy Wednesday, July 10, 6-7 p.m., on Zoom. Teenagers and adults are welcome to attend. Register at avl.mx/dr4.

Books to Action is a book club exploring nonfiction books about issues facing the community. Dopesick, published in 2018, charts the development of the painkiller OxyContin and its role in the opioid crisis. Hulu produced a fictionalized limited series, starring Michael Keaton, based on Dopesick in 2021.

Hospice community care opens

The Center for Conscious Living and Dying, a nonprofit that provides comfort care for people who are dying, opened officially to the public May 16. Located at 83 Sanctuary Road in Swannanoa, CCLD provides a homelike setting at its 6-acre campus for individuals who are eligible for hospice care. Individuals stay in a room for their remaining days of life at CCLD and can be surrounded by friends and family. No palliative medical care is provided; volunteers will provide support with food and laundry. For more information about CCLD, visit avl.mx/dqu.

5K registration open

Registration is open for Western Carolina Rescue Ministries’ Light Up the Night 5K run Friday, Aug. 2, 7 p.m., at Carrier Park, 220 Amboy Road. All levels are welcome for the glow-in-the-dark event, and participants may walk or run. Registration is $25 per person, and funds raised will support WCRM’s Abba’s House, a residential program for mothers in recovery and their infants. To register visit avl.mx/dqs.

Community kudos

  • The N.C. Justice Center is honoring Philip Cooper, founder of Operation Gateway, as its 2024 Defender of Justice in the Grassroots Empowerment category. Operation Gateway addresses social determinants of health for individuals after incarceration.
  • Child welfare nonprofit Eliada Homes appointed Andrew D’Onofrio president and CEO.

Mark your calendars

  • First United Methodist Church, 566 S. Haywood St., Waynesville, will hold a resource fair Wednesday, June 5, noon-2 p.m. Attendees can receive a food box and a hot meal from Holy Cow Food Truck (while supplies last) and gather resources from Pisgah Legal Services, Healthy Blue NC and Mountain Projects.
  • A panel discussion on the history of harm reduction in Western North Carolina will occur Wednesday, June 5, 4:30-5:30 p.m., at Lord Auditorium in Pack Memorial Library, 67 Haywood St. Panelists are WNC AIDS Project prevention educator Michael Harney, City of Asheville homelessness project manager Lacy Hoyle and former BCDHHS opioid response coordinator Amy Upham. Public health scholar Abigail K. Stephens will moderate. The event is free and registration is recommended. Register at avl.mx/dr2.
  • NC SAFE (Secure All Firearms Effectively) will distribute free gun locks Friday, June 7, 2-6 p.m., at Pack Square Park, 80 Court Plaza. NC SAFE will also provide information about best practices for firearm storage.
  • Blue Ridge Pride education and outreach coordinator Luna Britt will lead a storytime celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community Thursday, June 13, 10:30-11:30 a.m., at Pack Memorial Library, 67 Haywood St. All ages are welcome.
  • The Buncombe Elder Justice Coalition will host an elder abuse awareness walk Thursday, June 13, 2-4 p.m., at Carrier Park, 220 Amboy Road. The free event will include information from local agencies that combat elder abuse. Holly Jones, N.C. Department of Justice senior policy adviser and program manager of Western outreach, will be the keynote speaker.
  • Blue Ridge Pride will host a health fair for queer-owned and allied health care providers Sunday, June 16, noon-3 p.m., at New Belgium Brewing Co., 21 Craven St.
  • Elevated Kava Lounge, 747 Haywood Road, will host a free wellness fair Saturday, June 22, 1-4 p.m., including sound healing, reiki, massage and yoga.
  • The Asheville Youth Collective is offering resources for people ages 16-24, including bus tickets, free food and hygiene products on Wednesdays, 5-7 p.m., beginning June 26 at 12 Baskets Cafe, 610 Haywood Road.
  • YWCA of Asheville, 185 S. French Broad Ave., is offering an introduction to Argentine tango on Mondays from July 8-Sept. 30, from 5:30-6:45 p.m. Classes are open to everyone; fees are $60 for YWCA members and $120 for nonmembers. Register at avl.mx/dr3.

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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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