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MSHA: New services coming to county hospital

By Keeli Parkey

Two new services are now being offered at Unicoi County Memorial Hospital.

According to a press release issued by Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA), the health system that owns and operates the Erwin facility, lung cancer screening and home sleep testing are now available.

“One of our goals at Unicoi County Memorial Hospital is to continually find ways to better serve our patients and our community with the services we offer,” UCMH Administrator Eric Carroll said. “Both the lung cancer screening and the home sleep tests are great examples of that.”

MSHA described the low-dose CT lung cancer screening as “simple” and “painless.” This method is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and uses a CT machine to create images of the lungs. It is covered by most insurance providers, according to the press release.

“Early detection is so important with lung cancer,” Carroll said. “Since November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a great time to remind people to be proactive. We’re really glad we can offer this service because it’s something that can save lives. A lot of credit goes to our radiology manager, Michael Slemp, and his team for bringing this service to the community.”

According to the health system, the leading cause of death among adults is lung cancer. Of those diagnosed, 25 percent will not have symptoms. MSHA called early detection “critical for the chance at successful treatment.” There is a reported 54 percent, five-year survival rate for lung cancer when the disease remains in the lungs.

“However, only 15 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage,” the press release stated.

The CDC advises individuals who currently smoke, have smoked heavily in the past, smoked during the past 15 years and are in the 55- to 77-year-old age range to get screened for lung cancer.

MSHA also reported that the following are risk factors for lung cancer: Cigarette, cigar or tobacco use; secondhand smoke; radon; asbestos; air or environmental pollution; radiation therapy to the chest; arsenic in drinking water; and family or personal history of lung cancer.

For more information about the CT lung screening, call 743-1222.

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The Sleep Center at UCMH is now offering home sleep testing, according to MSHA.

“A home sleep test is exactly what it sounds like – a sleep test you can administer at home,” the press release said. “The test consists of a small device that a patient picks up from the hospital and then returns the next day. The home sleep test is designed to evaluate the severity of snoring and apnea, and also monitors oxygen levels during sleep.”

A physician may order the test when a patient reports issues about their sleep patterns, snoring or concerns they may have sleep apnea. Diagnosing sleep disordered breathing is the purpose of the test.

After the patient has taken the test and returned the device to UCMH, a sleep technologist and a board-certified sleep specialist will review the results. They will then send the results to the referring physician – a process that takes approximately one week.

For more information about the home sleep test, call 743-1291.