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Spotlight On: Roger Ball of Ball’s Berries & Produce

It’s 5 am, and while most people are still sleeping, Roger Ball has already started his day. Roger is a local farmer and owner of Ball’s Berries & Produce, located in South Raleigh. He is also one of several featured vendors who will be participating in the WakeMed Farmers Market, which kicks off May 17th.

roger ball holding chicken

I was born on a farm, but I did construction work most of my life and came back to farming in my later years.

No Stranger to Hard Work

I throw my car into park and approach Roger Ball’s farm store. As I make my way up the couple of steps, I take in the sight and smell of the sweet strawberries on display, perched in neat rows on the ledge. The store is small but cozy; and inside, an old air conditioner hums along to the rush hour traffic that passes by outside.

I am immediately greeted by Roger, who is standing behind the cashier’s area. He extends a huge, rough hand while speaking in a soft voice. As we start chatting, I look around and soak everything in. Every inch of the store is filled with color.

There are modest yet impressive displays of tomatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables. To the far left, a commercial, glass refrigerator houses cartons of farm fresh eggs of varying kinds – each distinguished with neatly penned handwriting. On the counter is a large wheel of cheese, protected by a glass cover.

At 69 years-old, Roger is no stranger to hard work. He still tends to all of his crops by hand, taking great care to package and sell a wide variety of produce at his store. He has 5 – 6 part-time workers, but routinely, Roger is up before the sun, tending to his chickens, turkey, and crops. When he isn’t out in the fields, you can find him tucked behind the counter at his farm store, conversing with customers, answering the phone, or arranging produce displays. Most days, he doesn’t call it quits until well after 8 pm.



The Importance of Advance Directives in Medical Care

stethoscope on top of chart with two pillsNobody wants to think about it, but death is something that we must all, one day, face.

Our own Dr. Kristine Scruggs, recently wrote a poignant article that deals with death, dying, and how having a plan in place can help you take control of your health or the health of loved ones in the event that a difficult decision needs to be made.

Read the article here, give it some thought, and take some time to develop your own plan so your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are not burdened with having to make very difficult life or death decisions for you.

Related Resources

The following is helpful information pertaining to medical care decisions and advance directives, including information such as: creating a living will, being a health care power of attorney for a loved one, how to make an advance directive, and more.


WakeMed Farmers Market Returns for 3rd Year

hand on collard greensNow in in its third year, WakeMed’s annual Farmers Market returns to the Raleigh Campus bringing with it a wide selection of fresh, locally-grown produce, cooking demonstrations, health education, crafts, and more.

More importantly, the Farmer’s Market operates under a ‘for the community, by the community’ mentality, serving as a way to bring together members of the local community while encouraging an overall, healthier lifestyle.

History of the WakeMed Farmers Market

Founded in June 2014 and now co-managed by the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle – the WakeMed Farmers Market aims to make fresh food more accessible to Southeast Raleigh residents – something worth noting as Southeast Raleigh is one of more than 340 designated “food deserts” in the North Carolina.



How Happiness Affects Your Health

In recent years, physicians, psychologists and economists have tried to shine a light on the connection between joy and wellness. It’s no surprise that happiness and good health go hand-in-hand. And scientific studies have found that happiness can make our hearts healthier, our immune systems stronger, and our lives longer.

happy faces drawn on fingers

The Link Between Happiness & Good Health

There is no doubt that there’s a link between happiness and good health. People who find ways to laugh, spend time with friends and family, and enjoy life in general are often healthier.

How does happiness impact your health?

Stress in our lives increases stress hormones that can lead to higher rates of: high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and anxiety, to name a few.

People who are less stressed tend to make healthier lifestyle decisions, such as: getting better sleep, getting more exercise, and making healthier food choices.

Is stress ‘contagious’? Can parents pass on stress to their kids?

Parents CAN pass on stress to their children by not giving them healthy outlets and tools for dealing with the stresses of everyday life. Parents and caregivers can teach kids communication strategies for interacting with people – even when they feel stressed out.



Ways to Be More Environmentally Conscious This Earth Day

Earth DayEarth Day is this Friday, April 22! Though it’s beneficial to be environmentally conscious year-round, Earth Day serves as an annual reminder of new ways we can improve the way interact with the environment around us.

WakeMed Corporate Integrity Compliance Specialist, Gary Ernster, mentions how his department engages in environmentally friendly behavior:

We, are extremely mindful of being environmentally friendly. We use recycling whenever possible in an effort to lessen the paper burden in terms of cost and storage on WakeMed. We want to be good stewards of the resources that WakeMed provides us, and it allows us to be the best that we can be as a department.

Gary also mentions some ways that employees can be more environmentally conscious, such as: turning off lights after leaving a room, and shredding confidential or protected health information (PHI) after use.

These are just a few examples, but there are tons of ways we can make a positive impact. First, though, let’s look at some interesting facts about Earth Day.

7 Fun Facts About Earth Day

  • Founded by former U.S. Senator, Gaylord Nelson
  • First celebrated in 1970, in the United States
  • Led to the creation of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, & Endangered Species Act
  • Approximately 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day
  • Was recognized throughout the world by 1990
  • Was officially renamed by the United Nations (UN) as “International Mother Earth Day” in 2009
  • The original date (April 22) was chosen by Nelson in order to maximize participation on college campuses. He determined the week of April 19 – 25 as ideal as it did not fall during exams or spring breaks.

33 Ways to Be More Environmentally Conscious

  1. Upgrade office equipment to energy saving models.
  2. Turn off computers and other electronics at the end of the day (or when you’re not using them)
  3. Ensure that all lights are turned off at the end of the day.
  4. Try to use natural light during the day to cut back on electricity use.
  5. Use energy efficient light bulbs.
  6. Make sure air vents are cleaned regularly to prevent buildup.
  7. Invest in some indoor greenery to helps clean the air.
  8. Walk or ride a bicycle for nearby errands.
  9. Borrow books from the library.
  10. Recycle all of your cans, bottles, papers, and other acceptable items. (more…)

Health Benefits of Fiber

wheat branResearch shows that our physical and emotional well being depends on our digestive health. Fiber plays an important role in keeping the digestive tract healthy.

When you eat food that is rich in fiber, it fills you up and keeps you satisfied longer.  Foods low in fiber are digested faster and move through your body rapidly. Complex carbohydrates that are rich in fiber slow down digestion and may help prevent a sharp rise in blood sugar.

Fiber also helps break down cholesterol. All of this can help balance your hormones and can have a positive impact on a range of issues such as:

  • Obesity
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • and GI issues, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Exactly What is Fiber?

Sometimes referred to as roughage or bulk, fiber includes the part of the plant food that your body can’t digest or absorb. There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber, and insoluble fiber. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber are important for health, digestion, and preventing disease.


Soluble fiber is broken down during digestion. It helps control blood sugar and lower cholesterol levels. Other interesting information about soluble fiber includes:

  • Attracts water and turns to gel during digestion
  • Slows the digestive process down
  • May help lower risk of heart disease
  • Found in: oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, citrus fruits and vegetables


Insoluble fiber is also known as roughage.  This type of fiber is not broken down in the digestive tract.  Insoluble fiber can help prevent constipation, and it may also help reduce blood pressure. Other interesting information about insoluble fiber includes:

  • Adds bulk to the stool
  • Aids in helping food pass quickly through the stomach and small intestines
  • Found in: wheat bran, vegetables, nuts, beans, cauliflower, potatoes, whole grains



National Healthcare Volunteer Week

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

This year, from April 10-16, we’re celebrating National Healthcare Volunteer Week. This week gives each of us a special opportunity to recognize the support that volunteers provide to our patients, families, hospital staff, and our community. It is the perfect occasion for us to focus on the many significant contributions that our volunteers make individually and collectively every day to the WakeMed mission.

Please take this opportunity to thank a volunteer and celebrate their service during National Volunteer Week. Promote awareness about healthcare volunteers and their contributions of time and service. Write a note, or simply take the time to stop and say ‘thank you’. Volunteers really make a difference in our community, and we appreciate it!

WakeMed Volunteers at the 2016 Volunteer Luncheon

Volunteer Contributions at WakeMed

To give you a better idea of their contributions, here are a few of the FY15 outcomes from activities of WakeMed volunteers:

1,410 individual volunteers…

  • gave a combined 117,456 hours of service throughout the WakeMed Health & Hospitals system to patients, families and staff.

More than $84,438 of funding…

  • was raised through volunteer-sponsored fund raisers, and donations from individuals – allowing our volunteers to support programs and services for patients, families and medical staff!
  • Examples Include: Cardiac Rehab Scholarships for patients with restricted incomes and Sewing supplies for community volunteers who hand-make gifts for patients of all ages

At least 136 departments…

  • received direct support from volunteers, system wide.

At least 4,272 patient visits were conducted…

  • by Patient Relations Ambassadors , and surveys were completed and shared with Nursing and support department leaders.

At least 4,665 visits to patients were completed…

  • by 36 Hospitality Pet teams, who also made untold numbers of physician, staff and family “touches” in the process.

WakeMed volunteers - all smilesCross-Generational Volunteering

WakeMed volunteers represent each generation between ages 16 and 95. Our volunteers engage in a wide range of activities, including:

  • Escorting and guiding patients and guests
  • Visiting patients
  • Coordinating visits for families
  • Offering diversionary activities for patients and families
  • Delivering mail and flowers
  • Completing detailed and complex projects
  • Answering phones/ filing
  • Running errands
  • And supporting WakeMed staff through countless additional activities – all with a smile!

Volunteers represent healthcare providers of the future, the workforce of today, the workforce of yesterday, and those who are dedicated to community support who have either never required nor had an opportunity for monetary compensation.

THANK YOU so much for your support in celebrating National Healthcare Volunteer Week.

You can learn more about volunteering at WakeMed here.


Seasonal Allergies: Your Questions Answered

Most people look forward to the Spring as a time to embrace longer days, and warmer weather. However, if you’re an allergy sufferer it can also be something to dread – especially if you live in North Carolina where five of our cities (including Raleigh and Durham) rank among the Most Challenging Places to Live with Spring Allergies.

Below, we take a look at some common questions and answers related to seasonal allergies.

man wearing allergy mask facing ragweed

Frequently Asked Questions About Seasonal Allergies

Why do some people have seasonal allergies while others do not?

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), there are more than 50 million Americans living with seasonal nasal allergies.

As to why some people suffer from allergies – genetics play a role. Children whose parents have allergies are more likely to develop allergies. Allergies may also be a combination of environmental exposure (i.e. where we live) plus family history.

What is responsible for the “pollen Armageddon” that North Carolina experiences every Spring?

The yellow pollen that plagues everything is actually pine pollen. Because of the number of different pine trees we have throughout the area, we tend to see a lot of yellow pine pollen. Typically, this cloud of yellow dust arrives towards the end of March/beginning of April and lasts a couple of weeks. Despite it covering everything in sight, pine pollen does not contribute to allergies in the way that many people think.



Digestion Discussion: Diverticulitis

Since the late 1990s, there has been an increasing prevalence of patients being admitted to hospitals for the treatment of diverticulitis. But what exactly is diverticulitis, and who does it affect? Recently, we spoke with our own Dr. Adeyemi Lawal, a board certified Gastroenterologist at WakeMed, who helped set the record straight.

diverticulitis explained

What is Diverticulitis?

Diverticulitis is an inflammation or infection of one or more small pouches inside of your large intestine.

How does diverticulitis occur?

As you age, it is common to develop small pouches or sacs (called diverticula) along the inside of your large intestine. The presence of these sacs or diverticula is called diverticulosis. When these sacs become inflamed and/or develop small tears, it is referred to as diverticulitis.

Common Symptoms of Diverticulitis

The symptoms associated with diverticulitis can vary from mild to severe. The location of the pain varies depending on the site of the inflammation in the colon. Some of the most common symptoms of diverticulitis include:

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Changes in Bowel Habits
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Painful Urination



April is National Pecan Month

pecans in bowlsApril is National Pecan Month, and we’re celebrating by sharing some interesting facts about pecans!

10 Interesting Facts About Pecans

  1. Pecan is from an Algonquian word meaning ‘a nut requiring a stone to crack’.
  2. The U.S. produces about 80% of the world’s pecan crop.
  3. A pecan is not truly a nut, but technically a drupe, a fruit with a single stone or pit surrounded by a husk.
  4. Two Pecans provide nearly 10% of the recommended daily value for zinc.
  5. As the only nut tree native to North America, the pecan is sometimes called “America’s own nut.”
  6. Wild pecans were first cultivated by Native Americans back in the 1500s, and later transplanted to other countries.
  7. Pecans serve as a good source of protein and unsaturated fats.
  8. There are over 1,000 varieties of pecans – many are named for Native American Indian tribes including Cheyenne, Mohawk, Sioux, Choctaw and Shawnee.
  9. Before a shelled pecan is ready to be sold, it must first be cleaned, sized, sterilized, cracked and finally shelled.
  10. Pecans come in a variety of sizes – mammoth, extra large, large, medium, small and midget.

Health Benefits of Pecans

According to the Mayo Clinic, eating nuts as part of a healthy diet can be heart-friendly. Containing unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients, nuts are a great snack food – inexpensive, easy to store, and easy to pack when you’re on the go. As pecans are loaded with antioxidants that fight of diseases and nutrients that can lower cholesterol, it serves as a great and healthy food option. Other health benefits of pecans include:

#1 – Pecans are rich in antioxidants, specifically Vitamin E. In fact, pecans contain different forms of vitamin E, which has been found to prevent cell damage as well as lower LDL cholesterol by as much as 33 percent.

#2 – Pecans may help with weight control. This is according to a  published review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2003).

#3 – Pecans are heart healthy. Roughly 60 percent of the fat found in pecans is monounsaturated, and the remaining 30 percent is polyunsaturated, leaving very little saturated fat.

#4 Pecans are filled with nutrients. Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals. In fact, just one ounce of pecans provides 10% of the recommended daily value for fiber!

About the National Pecan Day/Month

#NationalPecanDay is a food holiday initiated by the National Pecan Shellers Association in 1996 and celebrated each year on April 14. April is also National Pecan Month!

About the National Pecan Shellers Association

The National Pecan Shellers Association (NPSA) is a non-profit trade association committed to educating culinary and health professionals, food technologists and the general public about the nutritional benefits, variety of uses and all around great taste of pecans.

Recipe suggestions:

Stay tuned for our upcoming posts about diverticulitis and the health benefits of fiber!