Harris Cancer Center ribbon cutting

The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting at Harris Regional Cancer Center on Oct. 27. Pictured left to right: Brett Woods (Chamber Ambassador), VP Lucretia Stargell, Tony Simon (physicist), Dr. Jarred Tanksley, CEO Steve Heatherly, Dr. David Thomas, Jenny Wilder (dosimetrist), and Chad Gerrety (Chamber Ambassador).

With the close of 2020, Harris Regional Hospital and Swain Community Hospital are honored to recognize the dedication of nearly 1,000 employees and 200 physicians working in Jackson, Swain, Macon and Graham counties to provide care to the region, delivering on the hospitals’ mission of Making Communities Healthier amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I cannot say enough how proud I am of the way our team continues to weather the storm together,” said CEO Steve Heatherly. “I have seen our providers, employees and staff come together like never before. I’m so grateful for and inspired by their courage and selfless dedication. Not only has the pandemic made our team stronger, but it has also made our hospitals even safer,”

While the focus remains on the pandemic and now the coronavirus vaccine, the hospitals have accomplished multiple expansions over the past year. These initiatives are aimed at growing services and access for Western North Carolina, bringing care closer to where people live and eliminating the burden of travel.

Women’s and Children’s Care: As the last remaining hospital to deliver babies in the counties west of Haywood, Harris Regional Hospital added neonatology services with the addition of Dr., Bernd Holler, an experienced neonatologist leading the hospital’s expansion. Providing a higher level of neonatal care in Sylva, in collaboration with the pediatricians of Harris Pediatric Care, means newborns can receive more complex nursery services closer to home and family support. Additionally, Harris Regional Hospital was named to Newsweek’s 2020 national list of Best Maternity Care Hospitals. Harris Regional began offering 3-D mammography in August.

Cardiology: Harris Regional Hospital began performing peripheral vascular disease procedures to identify and eliminate blockages in vessels outside the heart. The new service is the latest milestone within the cardiology service line, following the additions of cardiac interventions such as stents in 2019, and diagnostic cardiac catheterizations in 2017.

Harris Regional Cancer Center: A major expansion of the hospital’s radiation oncology center was completed in September, including new, state-of-the-art technology and equipment used in treating multiple types of cancer. The project included adding space, renovating existing space, and providing a peaceful aesthetic environment featuring student, faculty, and alumni work from the School of Art and Design at Western Carolina University. Dr. Jarred Tanksley, a radiation oncologist joined Dr. David Thomas at Harris Regional Cancer Center in July.

Surgical Expansions: Harris Regional Hospital welcomed Dr. Allison Palumbo, a general surgeon specializing in breast care and procedures, and Ryan Marshall, DO, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, both at Harris Surgical Associates; Dr. Ja’Pel Sumpter, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Harris Women’s Care; Dr. Margaret Vereb, a urologist at Harris Urology; and Dr. Jaron Densky, an otolaryngologist at Mountain Ear, Nose & Throat. Harris and Swain expanded interventional pain services to Sylva and Franklin, joining the Bryson City location in providing comprehensive pain services to the region. The Harris Vein Center opened with Dr. Eric Reitz and Kate Mosley, NP providing treatment for varicose veins and venous insufficiency.

Physician Recruitment: In addition to the surgical subspecialties, neonatal intensive care unit and cancer center, Harris and Swain welcomed physicians in multiple specialties including Angela Riccio, DO and Jeremy Hutson, DO at Harris Family Care – Franklin; Jarod Schoeberl, PA-C at Harris Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine; Maggie Schoeberl, PA-C at Harris Urgent Care; Brittany Tyson, NP at Harris Cardiology; and Jonathan Motts, MD at Swain Family Care.

Community Partnerships: Harris and Swain continued to strengthen relationships with regional health departments through collaborations on the family planning clinic at the Graham County Health Department and OB clinic at the Macon County Health Department. 

Mercy Award Winner: The hospitals named speech language pathologist Catherine Overbay as the 2020 Mercy Award winner. The award is the highest honor an employee can receive. The award is named for LifePoint’s founder and recognizes one employee from each of LifePoint Health’s hospitals who profoundly touches the lives of others and best represents the spirit and values on which the company was established.

Harris Regional Hospital and Swain Community Hospital partnered with Western Carolina University, Southwestern Community College, and Jackson County Public Schools in providing thousands of COVID-19 tests, and remained in weekly contact with all members of the local medical community and with the Jackson County Department of Public Health, Swain County Health Department, Graham County Health Department, Macon County Health Department, Cherokee Indian Hospital, and other regional healthcare providers and systems.