A Time of Transition, A Time of Thankfulness on the Plateau

November may be one of the most beautiful times on our Plateau – leaves turn fiery colors, the sky is a dramatic blue, and the air is crisp. It’s easy to forget that we don’t receive this gift all at once; transitions always happen over time.

As we approach the end of 2018, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital (HCH), the Eckerd Living Center (ELC), and our affiliated practices are experiencing a host of transitions as we will likely become part of HCA Healthcare.  Importantly, our ELC and HCH facilities are experiencing exciting remodels and upgrades – thanks to the great generosity of our donors, and we’re bidding farewell to a remarkable and respected colleague after a 50-year career, Dr. Herbert Plauche.

While not always welcomed, change routinely ushers in positive things.  When challenged, we’ve seen time and again that community, relationships, and knowledge of our shared history helps lead us to the other side. As we prepare to enter into the newest chapter of our medical history by becoming part of HCA Healthcare, I want to thank our generous Board members, whose extraordinary leadership and tireless work have shepherded us through this period.  Board Chairman, Sam Lupas created direction and passionately articulated the message the Board carried forth to our community.  Board members Jack Austin, Stephanie Edwards, James Maurin and Paul Robshaw have engaged in robust conversations with many throughout our community, whether in grocery store aisles or while in line at Buck’s Coffee.  Throughout, they have been stellar and unwavering ambassadors for sustainable, high quality healthcare on our Plateau.  I am also grateful for Foundation Chairman Dr. Walter Clark’s honest dialogue with our donors, and to those donors who have chosen to graciously honor their pledges to our hospital, because our mission endures.

As noted above, another shift underway is the needed upgrade of our facilities at both HCH and the ELC. We appreciate the caring community members who made these revitalizations a reality.  Thanks to our donors, each facility will offer more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing environments for our patients, residents, family members and staff.

The last transition I want to talk about is the coming December retirement of our much-loved orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Herbert Plauche.  A Louisiana native, Dr. Plauche is known as the consummate Southern Gentleman here. His long and rich career have earned him a stellar reputation among his patients, and high respect from his professional peers.  Dr. Plauche is a fifth generation physician who graduated from the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in 1963.  He began his practice in New Orleans in 1968, and came to western North Carolina with his wife 20 years ago, thinking he’d just “continue working a few more years.”  “I found there was a need for care here and have been happy to fill it.  When I started out I actually made house calls and gave out my cell number; I always loved being on call!  Although medicine has changed a lot, I’ve found that listening closely to my patients in the exam room has been key to building trusting relationships with them,” says Dr. Plauche.

Dr. Plauche set and met his goal of practicing for 50 years, and our community is so much the better for it.  He personifies all that is good in our health care community, and our care team members follow suit.  Every day, I remain grateful to them for being there for our patients and community – no matter what. They not only provide exemplary care, but consistency through all of the transitional periods we travel through.

On behalf of everyone at HCH, the ELC, and our affiliated practices, we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with family and friends, and pledge to continue working to make this community stronger and healthier.

Jacqueline “Jackie” Medland, PhD, RN, has been the President and Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) of Highlands-Cashiers Hospital for the past 19 months. Jackie has enjoyed a career as a healthcare leader for over 30 years, including positions in direct patient care, advanced practice nursing, nursing management and hospital administration.


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