Latest Entries

Flu Cases Increase in Wake County

Hospitals are preparing for a worse than average flu season this year, and we are starting to see a significant increase in flu cases here at WakeMed. 

This chart demonstrates the significant increase in flu cases over the past week.


Flu is a serious illness - especially for the very young and very old.  We have put together a comprehensive resource full of great prevention and treatment recommendations for the flu.  As this flu season progresses, we will continue to update this page with the latest and greatest flu information, so check back regularly.


Dispelling Flu Myths

Hospitals are preparing for a worse than average flu season. Watch Dr. Brian Klausner, a primary care physician at WakeMed Physician Practices – City Center Medical Group on @ABC11_WTVD as he dispels flu myths.


WakeMed Named a 2014 TBJ Heathiest Employer of the Triangle

WakeMed employees accept the TBJ "Healthiest Employer" award.

Healthy food options, a tobacco-free policy, an on-site fitness center and incentives linked directly to our employee medical plan…these are just some of the things that WakeMed is doing to create the healthiest environment possible for employees.  As a result, the Triangle Business Journal (TBJ) recognized WakeMed as a 2014 Healthiest Employer of the Triangle.

According to the TBJ, the Healthiest Employer of the Triangle Awards recognize companies and nonprofit entities that commit to making wellness a priority while proactively shaping the health of their employees. Winning companies completed an online assessment, and their wellness programs were compared with those of other employers across the region and nation. WakeMed was one out of 35 local companies chosen for the award. 

“At WakeMed, we value the health and well-being of our employees and want to make it easier for our employees to make healthy choices while at work,” commented Bob Nelson of the WakeMed Wellness Program.

Here are some things that make WakeMed such a healthy employer:

The WakeWell Reward
WakeWell Rewards provides incentives for WakeMed employees who take steps toward a healthier life.

Tobacco-Free Campuses
No smoking or tobacco products are permitted at any WakeMed facility or on any WakeMed campus.

Food Service/Healthy Options
Throughout all WakeMed facilities, healthy food options are available as part of the WakeMed Healthy Food Environment Policy.  This includes our cafeterias and vending machines.  In fact, the WakeMed Raleigh Campus cafeteria offers a designated low-calorie, low-sodium meal for lunch/dinner daily.

On-Site Fitness Center & Classes
Heathworks is a fitness center that is located on the Raleigh Campus.  It offers a variety of exercise machines and weights as well as group fitness classes and personal training.

Health Education
A plethora of health education is always available to our employees via our intranet site, external website and printed materials.

Community Focus
Regular free health events and screenings, the WakeMed Farmers’ Market and employees who volunteer their time and health expertise throughout the community all relate back to WakeMed’s focus and dedication to the health of our community and all who live here.

Walking Trails
The employees at WakeMed Cary Hospital benefit from the use of a designated outdoor walking trail.  Plans are currently in the works for walking trails to be created on other WakeMed campuses.


Does the Mediterranean Diet Lead to a Longer Life?

New research shows that the Mediterranean Diet may help slow the aging process, in addition to having a positive impact on heart health.  The basis of the diet – not eating processed foods, limiting red meat and shaping meals around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans – “appears to protect a person’s DNA from damage that naturally occurs with aging,” according to facts cited in a recent CBS News story.

“Many of the foods that make up the Mediterranean Diet, like nuts, olive oil and fish, are rich in omega-3 fats, which are both heart protective and anti-inflammatory. This diet is also rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals that protect your body and keep you healthier, which may in turn help you live longer,” explained Amy Bowen, a clinical dietitian with WakeMed Cary Hospital.  “It’s important to note that in this study, no one food from the diet stood out as promoting longevity. Eating a variety of foods from the Mediterranean Diet will help you ensure that you’re getting all the benefits this diet offers. While the study does have some limitations, the results further support the benefits of following the Mediterranean Diet to improve health and promote longevity.”

Here are some basics of the Mediterranean lifestyle:

  1. Base every meal around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans. The first step to eating more of a Mediterranean diet is to boost your fruits and vegetable intake. Some easy ways to boost include adding veggies to chili, soups and casseroles.  Add fruits to cereal or a salad, or snack on dried fruit and nuts.
  2. Eat fish and seafood frequently (at least two times per week).
  3. Poultry and dairy products should be consumed in moderate portions daily.
  4. Red meats and sweets are meant to be enjoyed sparingly.  Fruits are often the dessert of choice. Some of my favorite Mediterranean style desserts include cheese with fruit, a small piece of dark chocolate and sorbet or gelato with minimal toppings.
  5. If you drink alcohol, consume a moderate amount of red wine.  One 5-ounce glass of wine per day for women and up to two 5-ounce glasses for men is considered moderate.
  6. Use herbs and spices liberally to reduce added salt and boost health-promoting antioxidants.
  7. Replace butter with heart healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil. Olive oil is typically the main source of dietary fat and is used in variety of ways, including cooking, baking, and preparing salads and vegetables.
  8. Exercise regularly.
  9. Stay well hydrated with water.
  10. Last but not least, savor your food and enjoy the company of others.

The Mediterranean diet encourages fat from healthy sources like fish, olive oil, and nuts, but it is still possible to overindulge.  Be sure to avoid the common pitfalls of the American diet, including excess fat, salt, meat, sweets and large portion sizes.

With questions for the dietitians, e-mail For individual nutrition counseling, call WakeMed Cary Hospital Outpatient Nutrition Services at 919-350-2358.


Heart-Healthy Seasonal Dishes from Local Chefs

Eating in a healthier, more mindful way includes adding more non-processed foods into your diet, as well as more in-season fruits and vegetables. Late fall and early winter bring with them a variety of hearty, cold-weather vegetables, packed with nutritional value. Below are recipes recently contributed to the Fall 2014 issue of WakeMed’s Heart to Heart magazine by local chefs who are dedicated to serving fresh, local, in-season ingredients whenever possible.

Faro, Apple and Pecan Salad with a Cranberry Vinaigrette
Chef Vivian Howard, Chef and the Farmer restaurant

(serves 4)
1 1/2 cups cooked faro
1 cup diced apple
1/2 cup roughly chopped, toasted pecans
1/4 cup picked and torn mint
1/4 cup picked flat leaf parsely
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup cranberry vinaigrette

For the Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup apple cider
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 teaspoons picked thyme
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Make the Vinaigrette: Bring the apple cider to a boil and pour it over the cranberries and the thyme. Allow the cranberries to sit, away from the heat, and plump up for about 15 minutes. Whisk in the lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper. Slowly stream in the olive oil, all the while whisking. Let the vinaigrette sit for 30 minutes before pouring it over the faro salad.

Assemble the Salad: Follow the packaging instructions for cooking the faro and toast the pecans in a dry skillet so you can keep your eye on them. Cool both these items down before putting the salad together. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve, combine them with the remaining ingredients and the vinaigrette. Serve at room temperature.

Collard Slaw
Chef Jason Smith, 18 Restaurant Group

(Yields 2-4 servings)
1 pound collards, cleaned and de-ribbed
1 carrot, peeled
½ cup sour cream (can use the light varietal if you prefer)
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon freshly chopped basil
1 teaspoon freshly chopped oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Take cleaned, de-ribbed collards and chiffonade the leafy greens into ¼ inch strips.
  • Julienne the carrot into long thin strips.  Toss vegetables together in a bowl.
  • In a separate smaller bowl, mix together the sour cream, red wine vinegar and honey to make the dressing.
  • Toss the dressing in with the collards and carrots to cover evenly.
  • Toss in the herbs and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve immediately or keep refrigerated.

Grilled Romaine Salad with Fried Egg, Melted Ham, Pickled Onion & Toasted Almonds
Little Hen restaurant

(Serves 1)
1/4 romaine lettuce
Tablespoon of Olive Oil (for Pimenton “dressing”)
Pinch of Pimenton (or Spanish paprika)
Aged ham (prosciutto, mangalitsa, parma)
White wine vinegar and olive oil basic vinaigrette
1/8 white onion
1 egg
1/2 oz almonds (sticks or slivered), toasted

Slice rings or half rings of white onion. Prepare a basic vinaigrette using white wine vinegar and olive oil. Toss onions in vinaigrette and let marinade for a few hours. Toast almonds and reserve.

Romaine – Clean, dry, grill on cut sides (about 30 seconds). Remove from grill to a plate and immediately place sliced, aged ham (prosciutto, mangalitsa, parma) on lettuce.

Cook egg sunny-side up and place on top of the ham slice. Heat olive oil in pan, sprinkle in pimenton, and stir. Drizzle oil over the salad. Top with marinated onions and almonds.


Take the Stress off Your Plate this Holiday Season

The holidays and stress often go hand in hand. But why does this joyous time of year take so much out of us? It could be shopping trips in crowded malls and stores, preparing for and hosting holiday guests, a busier-than-normal social calendar, more cooking, more baking, travel or all of the above. Everyone seems to be out and about, parking spaces are limited, traffic is heavier, and the to-do list is long. 

So what can you do to help reduce your stress level and enjoy a calmer, more relaxing holiday season?  Dr. Tiffany Lowe-Payne of WakeMed Physician Practices – Morrisville Primary Care offers some valuable information and helpful advice.

What is Stress?
Stress is your body’s normal physical response to managing conditions that occur outside of the norm.  These could be good things, like the birth of a child, or bad things, like the loss of a job. When you are “stressed,” your adrenaline increases and your body is at a higher state of awareness.  The negative impact occurs when your body experiences stress for an extended period of time. Extended periods of stress can lead to physical issues such as:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Body aches
  • Stomach pain/reflux
  • Loss of sleep
  • Memory loss
  • Depression and/or anxiety

And even chronic medical conditions, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke

Stress can have an impact on every part of your life, including your relationships and your work. That’s why it is important to identify and manage your stress level.

How to Manage Stress

Know Your Limits: Always know when you are taking on too much. You may need to eliminate some commitments or activities from your calendar, or figure out some short-cuts that will make your life easier.  For example, choose one or two holiday parties to attend and say no to the rest.  Buy some pies for your family’s holiday dinner instead of making them from scratch, or ask all of your guests to bring a side dish.

Relaxation Techniques: Good relaxation techniques are also very important. Some people use mediation or yoga, others take time away for themselves – whether it be taking a nap or a quiet walk through the neighborhood. 

Talk to Your Primary Care Physician: If the above mentioned behavioral changes don’t work, talk to your primary care doctor.  Often, people with high stress levels experience anxiety, depression and/or an inability to sleep. You doctor can prescribe medications to help ease these symptoms and determine if counseling or therapy with a specialist could help you manage your symptoms further.

Take Care of Yourself: Especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, remember to get plenty of rest, limit your intake of fats and sweets, and exercise regularly.  By taking time to take care of yourself, you will be in a better position to manage or avoid stress altogether.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season!


A WakeMed Cardiac Rehab Patient & Football Coach Shares His Story

Once a coach, always a coach.  Hal Stewart, the former football coach for Garner High School who led his 1987 team to win the state title, recently completed the WakeMed Cardiac Rehab Program after suffering heart failure last spring.  He spent three months in the program and believes in it so much that he now wants to help coach and support other heart patients who are going through the same thing.

WakeMed’s Cardiac Rehab Program offers a safe, monitored environment where patients can gain the strength, confidence, camaraderie and nutritional know-how needed to live a heart-healthy life.  The program welcomes patients who have or had:

  • A recent heart attack
  • Cardiac bypass surgery
  • Angioplasty or stent placement
  • Valve repair or replacement surgery
  • A heart transplant
  • Stable angina
  • Heart failure

WRAL recently visited with Stewart to hear his story and learn more about why the WakeMed Cardiac Rehab Program is so impactful.  View the story here.


Holiday Safety Advice from Safe Kids

Safe Kids’ list of holiday safety tips is useful for anyone who has kids, will be hosting young visitors over the holidays or who is buying gifts for children this year.  Many tips are good for folks without kids as well, including those that pertain to tree, light and candle safety. Below are some reminders that will help you and your family enjoy a happier, safer holiday season. Read more directly from Safe Kids.

Tree Decorating – Move breakable ornaments or ornaments with metal hooks to the top of the tree, out of reach for little hands.

Watering the Tree – Water your tree regularly to ensure it does not dry out and become a fire hazard.

Holiday Lights – Inspect your strings of lights closely, and discard any that have exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets.

Candles & Matches – Use extreme caution with lit candles, and be sure to blow them out before leaving home. Keep lit candles and matches out of reach for kids!

Toys for Children – Beware of small parts and choking hazards. Read all instructions and warning lables closely.

Button Batteries – Remember that these small batteries are sometimes included in electronic toys and can be a danger for young children.

Helmets – When giving a child a bike, skateboard, scooter, etc., remember to include a helmet along with it.

Safety in the Kitchen – When cooking or baking for the holidays, or any time of year, use the back burners on your stove and turn handles away from the edge. Also, teach older children about safety in the kitchen, including using oven mitts and potholders.

Check Your Car Seat Before Holiday Travel – Ensure your child’s car seat is correctly installed and that it meets all current safety standards. Review this car seat checklist .

Have a Strategy when on the Road – Have a plan for exiting the road safely to feed or change your child. Don’t worry about making good time to your destination.

This safety advice is courtesy of Safe Kids Worldwide.  For more information, visit


Holiday Children’s Hospital Support

We are so blessed to have so many Children’s Hospital supporters.  The generosity of this community is astounding.  THANK YOU!

Thank you especially to the friends and family of Margie and Pablo Figueroa for coming out to support the ninth annual Memories for Marcus event fundraiser in memory of their son Marcus. And thank you to Dean Ogan, owner, Daily Planet Café who hosts the event each year to benefit WakeMed Children’s.


Spreading Holiday Cheer in the Children’s Hospital

Trim the Tree with Twinkle 2014 was a great success.  Thank you to everyone who attended  for helping to bring holiday cheer to Children’s Hospital patients.

If you haven’t yet purchased a star on the WakeMed Foundation’s Love Light Tree in honor of someone special, don’t fret there’s still time. 

Enjoy these images from the event.