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WakeMed Investing in Women’s Care

In addition to opening Wake County’s first women’s hospital next year, WakeMed also recently unveiled plans for a significant remodel and expansion of the Women’s Pavilion & Birthplace at the Raleigh Campus slated to be finished in the of summer 2015. 

This expansion is a direct result of WakeMed’s patient- and family-centered approach to care, which encourages rooming-in, allowing families to stay together throughout the celebration of new life and making it easier for mothers to have privacy.

The new family-centered design on Raleigh Campus will include:

  • 15 spacious Labor and Delivery Suites, ensuring privacy and comfort
  • 3 state-of-the-art Surgical Suites for C-section and special needs deliveries
  • A new Antepartum High-Risk Unit specifically designed for the complex needs of high-risk pregnancies, featuring 8 private rooms with advanced technology
  • 2,400-square-foot expansion
  • A comprehensive program of services and staff to protect both mother and child during pregnancy and immediately after birth

This expansion further complements WakeMed’s dedication to women’s services across the system as well as our tiniest patients and their families. Earlier this year, we opened our expanded our Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) – the only one of its kind in Wake County – and introduced private rooms along with a beautiful new design and state-of-the-art upgrades. The new birthplace will maintain its vital proximity to the NICU, ensuring our most fragile newborns receive immediate special attention and care. 

In North Raleigh, WakeMed’s new, 61-bed, full-service women’s hospital – designed with the unique needs of women in mind – will open on Mother’s Day 2015. WakeMed North Hospital will feature amenities tailored to our patients and offer women of every age throughout northern Wake County and the surrounding communities access to a wide variety of exceptional health services.

After the new hospital opening and the Raleigh Campus renovation, all three WakeMed birthing centers will feature a family-centered environment along with the most advanced technology in maternal care.  WakeMed delivers more babies than any other health system in Wake County, and has an expert team of obstetricians, neonatologists, maternal-fetal specialists, nurses and other professionals. 

The WakeMed Foundation has committed to raise $2.5 million through its Labor of Love campaign to support the Raleigh Campus renovation. To learn more or to donate, please visit

Learn more about the Raleigh Campus expansion in this Triangle Business Journal story.


Happy First Birthday, WakeMed Garner Healthplex!

One year ago today (August 19, 2013), WakeMed Garner Healthplex opened its doors, offering a full-service emergency department, comprehesive imaging services and on-site laboratory services to the Garner community. 

In its first year, the Garner Healthplex Emergency Department saw close to 22,000 patients, including more than 17,00 adults and 4,000+ children. The facility saw upwards of 2,000 patients each month for the last five months (March through July), with numbers continuing to grow.  

At the WakeMed Garner Healthplex Emergency Department, services for children and adults are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including : 

  • 10 private treatment rooms
  • X-ray, CT scan and ultrasound testing
  • An ambulance receiving area
  • A dedicated patient reception and waiting room
  • Pediatric emergency services backed by WakeMed Children’s

The facility is staffed by the same, board-certified emergency physicians that care for patients in WakeMed’s Level I Trauma Center on WakeMed Raleigh Campus. Additionally, Garner Healthplex provides comprehensive imaging services for adults and children, including MRI, CT scan, X-ray and ultrasound, as well as an on-site laboratory offering specimen collection for a variety of tests.

Learn more about WakeMed Garner Healthplex, located at 400 U.S. Highway 70 East (across from Agri Supply) in Garner. We wish the facility and staff a happy first birthday and many more to come!


Chef’s Station: Shrimp & Grits

WakeMed Café 3000 Chef Antonio Alano was featured in this month’s issue of Foodservice Director magazine.  In the issue, Chef Antonio shared his revamped recipe for shrimp and grits.  Chef Antonio proves it is possible to make healthy food taste great! 


Cafe 3000 Chefs Rob Newmeyer (R) and Antonio Alano (L) make healthy food taste great every day.

Chef’s Station Signature Dish – Shrimp & Grits

Chef Antonio F. Alano

Servings – 4

2 tbsp. butter
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp.  garlic, minced
1.5 cups nonfat milk
8 oz. quick grits
½ cup water (if needed)
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz. Andouille sausage, thinly sliced
4oz real bacon bits
¼ cup julienned vegetable blend (red onion, green, yellow bell peppers)
¼ tsp. kosher salt
12 oz. raw 31-40 shrimp, peeled & deveined
4 oz tomato, diced
1 cup fresh spinach

Poaching liquid for shrimp
4 cups water
1 cup white wine
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. thyme
1 tbsp. oregano

1. Heat a nonstick pan on medium-high.   Add butter and allow to melt.  Add diced onion; sauté until translucent.  Add garlic and sauté lightly.
2. Add milk and incorporate into mix.  Lower heat to medium and add grits slowly, stirring constantly.  Add water if needed.
3. When grits are cooked thoroughly, add cheese and stir.
4. Heat separate pan on medium-high.  Add oil and sausage.  Add bacon bits and stir.  Add vegetable blend and stir; then add salt.
5. In medium pot, mix poaching liquid ingredients together and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer; add shrimp and poach until pink and tender.
6. Spoon grits into bowl.  Place fresh spinach on top of grits.  Top with shrimp, tomatoes and bacon bits/sausage/vegetable blend mixture.


WakeMed’s Garner Primary Care Now Offers Dedicated Pediatric Services

WakeMed Physician Practices – Garner Primary Care is now offering a full range of dedicated pediatric services for babies and children, age newborn and up. This includes newborn hospital follow-up visits, well checks, sick visits, immunizations/vaccinations and more. 

The team at Garner Primary Care is comprised of physicians who are board certified in pediatrics and/or family medicine. They recognize that newborns, babies, young children and teens all have different health care needs, and they enjoy providing a wide range of pediatric care and services while helping you and your family navigate the health care landscape on behalf of your child. 

In addition to pediatric services, Garner Primary Care provides:

Garner Family Medicine Services
With four dedicated physicians, the team at Garner Primary Care offers expertise in caring for patients in various stages of life through wellness, prevention and the treatment of a wide range of medical issues. With clinical interests in a wide variety of areas, their physicians provide a broad range of wellness services and preventive care options, while also assisting with the management of chronic health conditions.  

Garner Internal Medicine Services
Garner Primary Care’s internal medicine physicians are experts in caring for adults, managing chronic health conditions, and promoting health and wellness. Whether you suffer from diabetes, hypertension, heart disease or other chronic health problems – or are just looking to take better proactive care of your health – their talented physicians want to help.

WakeMed Physician Practices – Garner Primary Care
WakeMed Garner Healthplex
400 U.S. Highway 70 East, Suite 202
Garner, NC 27529
Office: 919-235-6400
Map & Directions


Stomach Pain in Kids – Could it be Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is a relatively common condition for children ages 8 to 18 and also young adults. It happens within the appendix, a small out-pouching of the large intestine (the colon) that is located on the right side of the abdomen near the pelvis. About the size of a pinkie finger, the appendix doesn’t really have any important function within the human body, which is ironic because it can cause a lot of trouble if it gets inflamed and infected – also called appendicitis.

What Causes Appendicitis?
Almost all the time, food travels normally through the intestine.  But over months, or even years, small pieces of food can get “off track” and build up to create a plug in the appendix. This plug is called a fecalith and is probably the most common cause of appendicitis.

Signs & Symptoms
Many cases of appendicitis begin with stomach pain that is first located around the belly button and then moves to the right side of the stomach. The pain is usually constant and persistent – it does not come and go. It is exacerbated by movement, for example a bumpy car ride. A child who is experiencing appendicitis might be expected to moan in pain and won’t be able to jump up and down. He or she also might hunch over when trying to walk. Other symptoms could include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting (one to three times, usually not much more)
  • Low-grade fever (100 to 100.5 degrees F)

When to See a Doctor
If you think your child is exhibiting symptoms of appendicitis, you should immediately call your child’s pediatrician or primary care doctor. If the case is severe enough, you might be advised to go to a children’s emergency room, such as the WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department. There is great value in going to a place where the nurses, doctors and other care providers see children all the time and are also familiar with seeing kids who are suffering from a condition like appendicitis.

In about 90 percent of cases where bad abdominal pain is the concern, a viral illness or something similar that doesn’t require emergency intervention,  is the culprit. However, if appendicitis is the diagnosis, IV antibiotics will be administered immediately.

Most cases will then involve a laparoscopic appendectomy, or a minimally invasive procedure for appendix removal. In only about  two percent of cases is traditional “open surgery” for appendix removal still necessary.

Both procedures include the use of general anesthesia which is very safe for children. In extreme cases, the appendix may rupture, which can be life-threatening.

Early acute appendicitis usually involves an overnight hospital stay and, in five to seven days, the child can go back at school. Gradually, he or she can return to normal activities. More complicated cases can involve a five- to six-day hospital stay. 

By the Numbers
There are usually no long-term effects of having your appendix removed. In fact:

  • Appendectomy is the single most common emergency abdominal surgery for kids in the United States.
  • One out of 13 Americans will have an appendectomy in their lifetime. 
  • 70,000 to 80,000 kids in our country have appendectomies every year, making it extremely common.

The most important thing to remember: If your child’s symptoms are concerning, call your pediatrician or primary care doctor right away and describe what’s going on.  He or she can help guide you on what to do next.

J. Duncan Phillips, MD, FACS, FAAP, is surgeon-in-chief of the WakeMed Children’s Hospital and director of Pediatric Surgery.


Preparing for Ebola

If you watch the news, you have definitely heard that Ebola is a highly contagious deadly virus affecting hundreds in Africa.  Often with these types of highly contagious diseases, it is only a matter of time before it enters the United States.  Public health officials at the state, county and hospital level track and prepare for contagious diseases long before the death toll reaches the point that media starts to pay attention.

WakeMed staff are trained and well prepared to care for patients with highly contagious diseases.  In fact in years past, we have cared for patients with suspected SARS and those infected with H1N1 flu.

Ensuring the safety of all patients, visitors and staff in the event of a serious infectious disease requires knowledge, forethought and careful attention to protocol.  WakeMed has a robust Infection Prevention & Control team that implements every precaution to protect the safety and well-being of our employees, patients and visitors.
In light of the recent Ebola outbreak, WakeMed has implemented – with guidance from the CDC and the local health departments – specific screening questions which are currently active in all of WakeMed’s seven emergency departments.

In the event a patient meets the Ebola screening guidelines during triage, an immediate, internal response plan is put in place for the safe, rapid isolation of the patient and the continued safety of all other patients, visitors and staff. The key principle driving rapid isolation is to prevent transmission of disease.  As part of this plan, a WakeMed Infection Prevention & Control Professional serves as a 24/7 education and support contact for isolation, patient transport, transport of lab specimens, and is a key link in communicating with public health officials.

Isolation units are identified and set up in collaboration with the CDC and local health departments. Signage and monitors would be placed outside of the isolation room to ensure access is limited to clinical staff providing care to the patient.  Any staff treating a patient with a serious infectious disease will not treat any other patients and wears fully-protective, head-to-toe equipment.  Protective clothing such as fluid resistant gowns, aprons, gloves, head coverings, eyewear and more is worn whenever potential exposure to blood or body fluids is anticipated.  Staff is instructed on how to put on and remove protective garments and equipment without contaminating oneself.

Following the treatment or transport of an isolation patient, strict guidelines are in place to decontaminate an isolation room or unit. WakeMed’s Environmental Services staff also coordinates the best method for cleaning and decontamination with Infection Prevention & Control, including the use of specialized portable UV machines that completely eradicate bacteria, viruses and molds.

It’s our job to help keep our community healthy and safe, and it is a job we take very seriously – especially when it comes to highly contagious diseases.


Are You Drinking Your Sugar?

We all know that too much sugar is not good for us. Added sugars, or sugars and caloric sweeteners that are added to foods and beverages when they are processed or prepared, contribute to excess caloric intake and provide little to no nutritional value. Consequently, sugar can lead to serious health concerns, such as poor oral health, obesity, heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.

In an effort to limit sugar intake, many of us may steer clear of cakes, cookies, candy and other foods with obvious added sugars, but we often overlook the amount of sugar present in our favorite beverages. Non-diet sodas, sweet tea, flavored coffee beverages, fruit drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks are all full of added sugars.

Dietary Guidelines
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends an upper limit of 10 percent of our total daily calories from sugar. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization is currently working on a proposal that recommends this number be lowered to five percent, similar to current recommendations of the American Heart Association. This would mean an intake of 25 grams of sugar per day would meet the limit, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. To put this in perspective, one 12 oz. can of soda contains, on average, 40 grams of sugar; 15 grams above the recommendation.  So what should we do?

Choose Water
The best advice is to make water your drink of choice. If water is not your favorite beverage, make it more interesting by adding freshly squeezed lemon or orange, or make your own fruit-infused water by adding slices of strawberries, watermelon, lemons or lime in your glass or bottle. Even water infused with cucumber can be delicious and refreshing.  When you desire something with a little more zip, add a splash of 100 percent fruit juice to sparkling water.

Other favorable beverage options include decaffeinated unsweetened tea or coffee. Nonfat or low-fat milk can also be healthy in moderation as it contains important nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and potassium. And when it comes to fruit juice, remember that it is always better to eat the whole fruit because it offers the same nutrients in addition to fiber.

Read the Labels
Additionally, be sure to read the Nutrition Facts label on your beverages carefully and be mindful of serving sizes.  Often, the serving size is less than the portion served, which would double or even triple your sugar and caloric intake if you drank the entire can, bottle or cup. 

Is it time to rethink your drink?

Talitha Ellsworth, MPH, RD, LDN, is a nutritionist with WakeMed Corporate & Community Health.


It Makes Cents to Buy Generic

Brand name or generic?  This is the subject of a recent study conducted by The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  The study shows overwhelmingly informed consumers in their specific fields purchase the generic items, saving a significant amount of money.  Chefs bought generic baking soda over name brand.  Pharmacists purchased store brand headache remedies over the name brand.

The reasoning is simple.  Chefs, pharmacists and doctors both know there is no reason to spend more to get the same active ingredient.

Lynn Eschenbacher, a pharmacist and manager on Raleigh Campus, explains the logic behind purchasing generic medications.

“Health care is highly regulated and all drugs in the U.S. must be approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, including generic medications. For a generic medicine, the FDA reviews the product and deems it to be AB rated, which means the generic is equivalent to its brand-name counterpart.  The FDA requires generics to have the same active ingredients, although the products might have different secondary ingredients.  Basically, the generic is the same drug and will deliver the same result without paying for advertising the brand name product.”

Now that just makes cents!

Read the study


Jo Co Girls Perform at Farmers’ Market

Last week at the Raleigh Campus Farmers’ Market, the Jo Co Golden Girls performed. If you missed last week’s performance, you can see part of it below. I think you’ll agree the Jo Co Girls are very talented.

7-22-14 Farmers Market Singers R1 from WakeMed Health & Hospitals on Vimeo.

The Jo Co Golden Girls are all seniors and have won gold medals for performing arts in the Johnston County Senior Games two years in a row as well as a silver medal in the NC Senior Games 2013. They are set to compete again this year in the state competition.

The group includes WakeMed, multi-talented acute care nurse Nancy White (far right). In addition to Nancy, the group comprises Mary Braswell, who is retired from the Johnston County school system, Judy Wiggs, a retired PE teacher, Barbetta Hester, who is retired from Hester Properties, and Suzanne Coates, a media specialist at Smithfield Middle School. The group performs a variety of music from 1940’s to current hits.


Aronia Berries: The Super Food of the Day

Aronia Berries

Every so often, a new “super food” hits the market, and people flock to it with the hopes of finding the secret to perfect health.  A long list of foods have been touted as having “superpowers,” including Acai berries, Goji berries, pomegranate juice, coconut oil, coconut water, kale and chia seeds, just to name a few.

The latest super food getting lots of attention is the Aronia berry. According to research published last year in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, this small purple berry has one of the highest antioxidant values ever recorded when compared to any other fruit. In fact, the level of antioxidants in this berry is so high that it is too astringent to be eaten raw. Aronia berries are also high in dietary fiber, iron and vitamin C. These berries boast higher levels of quinic acid than cranberries which make them more effective in treating urinary tract infections.

Also known as the chokeberry, this fruit is indigenous to North America and has been cultivated in Russia and Eastern Europe since the last century. Farmers in the United States and Canada are now joining the race. Various companies across the country are jumping on the bandwagon to cultivate and profit from the sales of the fruit and its products such as juices, wines and baked goods. The Midwest Aronia Association’s website also offers a recipe page:

So should we all start eating Aronia berries? Soon we will get questions about serving sizes and the amount of berries we need to eat daily. There is no doubt that foods have healing powers. Some foods are called “super foods” because they indeed have extra nutrients that help prevent and treat chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Hippocrates was right when he said, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food’.  Adding the right foods to your diet, especially super foods that are rich in antioxidants, can increase your immunity, and help your body fight against disease.

However, the answer is not found in any one magical food. Also, a large dose of one food is not going to give you an extra advantage. More is not always better. There are a number of vital nutrients present in all natural foods. Each food group contains many important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. If you want to get the maximum benefit from your diet, focus on variety. Eat all the different foods from each food group, especially colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, and nuts and seeds. Expand your palate. Make sure you “eat a rainbow,” and sure, throw in a few Aronia berries in there!

Parul Kharod, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical dietitian with WakeMed. With questions for the dietitians, e-mail For individual nutrition counseling, call WakeMed Cary Hospital Outpatient Nutrition Services at 919-350-2358.