In Harlan, officials with Appalachian Regional Healthcare will be offering free health screenings to the general public through the Daniel Boone Clinic. Plans include screenings by medical staff members for diabetes, cardiac and skin cancer.
Will Miller, certified physician assistant, will be doing blood sugar and blood pressure checks Tuesday morning, and Dr. Fazal Ahmad has scheduled a skin cancer screening for Wednesday afternoon. Registration for those free services is being done through the clinic's medical and surgical departments. The hospital's Diabetes Education and Support Group program will meet Friday afternoon in the Blue Conference Room, and Dr. Moez Premji will be presenting information on the complex medical aspects of diabetes that will be useful to patients and family members.
Several other activities are planned this week to celebrate the many contributions made by employees and volunteers to the services provided at the hospital, its affiliated clinics and home service agency. These follow upon a series of activities held May 2-8 in recognition of National Nurses' Week.
"As healthcare workers, we have a special calling," said Michael Layfield, Community CEO of Harlan ARH. "We look forward to National Healthcare Week as an opportunity to celebrate the contribution our employees make to our mission. We are here to care for patients. Their safety, their care and their needs are what drive our actions. That commitment and that accomplishment will make us the most respected business in Harlan County and the region, not just the most respected hospital."
The unique success of hospitals and organized health care services over the years is the result of pioneering work done by Florence Nightingale, the English founder of modern nursing, who was determined to make a career out of easing the suffering of others.
Nightingale is credited with establishing sanitary methods and disciplinary procedures for nurses while working in army hospitals. She dedicated her life's work as a hospital reformer. She established the first nurse training school in 1869 and her methods have been the core of nursing and hospital practice around the world since that time.
Despite her success and world renown, hospitals continued to be seen by the general public as dark and dangerous places where strange things happened. It was the editor of Hospital Management magazine who started National Hospital Day on May 12, 1921. That date was selected because it was Nightingale's birthday and it has been the tradition since to hold National Hospital Week, now called National Healthcare Week, during the week in which her birth date falls.
The development of health care services in Appalachia has followed its own unique path. In Harlan County for example, by 1924 the Harlan Hospital Association had become well established as a proprietary (doctor-owned) hospital and several area coal companies and the camp doctors had admitting or referral rights to use the facility.
Most major coal companies in the region specifically in Harlan County those at Lynch, Benham and Kenvir had built hospitals as part of their planned communities. And there was also a small hospital operating as part of the Pine Mountain Settlement School. While medical insurance plans as we know them today did not exist, employees were offered the option to see the doctor or enter the hospital. Those insurance plans involved wage deductions and individual bills.
By the mid-1940s, the United Mine Workers of America negotiated a Welfare and Retirement Fund, much of which was used to pay for medical care for union miners and their families. The fund later paid for the construction and staffing of 10 modern hospitals across central Appalachia, as well as the benefits of miners and their dependents who used the facilities. By 1963, the UMWA had divested itself of the hospital operation when it sold the system to the newly formed not-for-profit corporation known as Appalachian Regional Hospitals.
ARH has grown from that regional hospital system into one of the most widely respected comprehensive medical systems in rural America. ARH has for two consecutive years been recognized by industry leaders as one of the 100 Top Health Systems in America today.
The Harlan facility is currently undergoing a $12 million reconstruction to upgrade its outpatient service functions. A ceremony is planned for June to celebrate the opening of the hospital's new emergency department. Over the next year, work will conclude with completion of the imaging department and a new main entrance. Officials have also begun detailed planning for construction and program changes at Harlan that will occur over the next five years.