Turning the tables

Local physicians will get a chance to become patients Thursday, March 31, as part of the local observance of National Doctors Day. From 6 to 10 a.m. in Mission Hospital’s lobby, doctors can receive a free medical exam, including a blood-pressure check, a tuberculin test and, for male physicians, a prostate exam.

The holiday was the brainchild of Eudora Brown Almond, the wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond. Wanting to celebrate physicians’ contributions, she chose March 30, 1933, to send special greeting cards and place flowers on the graves of deceased doctors in Winder, Ga.

The idea caught on: The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution commemorating the day in 1958, and, in 1991, President George H.W. Bush signed legislation designating March 30 as National Doctors Day.

The local celebration — organized by the Western North Carolina and Buncombe County Medical Society in partnership with Mission Hospitals and the Buncombe County Medical Society Alliance — has been held at Mission annually for about the last 20 years. Participation has been excellent: Last year, about 600 local physicians got checkups. Due to scheduling conflicts, this year’s event is being held a day later.

The roughly 900-member medical society bills itself as “the physicians’ voice advocating for the health of the medical profession, the health of the patient and the health of the community.” The alliance is an affiliate organization for physicians’ spouses.

Besides thanking local doctors for helping keep the rest of us healthy, the event also encourages physicians to take care of their own health, medical society CEO Miriam Schwarz explains. Many of the doctors who show up for free exams also donate their time to the group’s charitable foundation, which provides comprehensive medical care for uninsured, low-income Buncombe County residents, she notes.

In addition, Doctors Day underscores the importance of getting an annual checkup, says Schwarz. “I think it sends a really good message to the community to see that physicians are taking care of themselves, just as they take care of their patients.”

The medical society also encourages patients to use the holiday as an opportunity to send their physicians a card or simply say thanks, to let them know how much their work is appreciated.

“We are privileged to have some of the most skilled physicians in the country right here in our own mountains, and Doctors Day is just one small way we can honor them for all their hard work and dedication to the health of our community,” says Donna Wiedrich, the society’s director of member services.

Twilight time

Interested in serving as a hospice volunteer? The Asheville chapter of The Twilight Brigade is offering a special training the weekend of April 1-3.

Created about 30 years ago, the national nonprofit helps veterans and others confronting death deal with the experience. Volunteers are taught how to be fully present with others at the time of their passing. Founder Dannion Brinkley survived three near-death experiences, wrote several books and was inspired to begin bedside hospice service at VA hospitals. He’s devoted more than 30,000 volunteer hours to the cause and invites others to help.

As the nonprofit’s website notes: “73,000 vets will die this month. … Help us make sure no vet dies Alone.”

For training information, contact Beverly Jones at 250-9789 (email: tbciainavl@gmail.com). To learn more about the nonprofit, visit thetwilightbrigade.com.

— Send your health-and-wellness news to mxhealth@mountainx.com or news@mountainx.com, or call News Editor Margaret Williams at 251-1333, ext. 152.

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