Category: Blog and News

Breast Cancer Awareness

When Should I Start Getting Mammograms?
In this video,  CDC’s Dr. Lisa Richardson talks about the best time for women to start getting mammograms to screen for breast cancer.

Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Getting mammograms regularly can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that if you are 50 to 74 years old, be sure to have a screening mammogram every two years. If you are 40 to 49 years old, talk to your doctor about when to start and how often to get a screening mammogram.

What Are the Symptoms?

There are different symptoms of breast cancer, and some people have no symptoms at all. Symptoms can include—

  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood).
  • A new lump in the breast or underarm.

If you have any signs that worry you, see your doctor right away.

How Can I Lower My Risk?

Some main factors that influence your risk for breast cancer include—

Most women who get breast cancer have no known risk factors and no history of the disease in their families. There are things you can do to can help lower your breast cancer risk.

Although breast cancer screening cannot prevent breast cancer, it can help find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. Talk to your doctor about which breast cancer screening tests are right for you, and when you should have them.

National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program: Screening Women, Saving Lives

Are you worried about the cost? CDC offers free or low-cost mammograms. Find out if you qualify.

Fast Facts About Breast Cancer

  • Each year in the United States, more than 240,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease. See detailed statistics.
  • Men also get breast cancer, but it is not very common. Less than 1% of breast cancers occur in men.
  • Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. About 10% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.

Are you in?

Our generation is getting screwed by a broken system and leadership that don’t represent our values.

We can choose to sit on the sidelines or we can join together and fight for a future that works for us: a fair economy with good-paying jobs, racial justice and full equality for all, an end to climate change and a reformed criminal justice system.

We choose to fight. We choose to vote. Join us.

We have the freedom to choose our leaders and engage on the issues that we care about. That means we can build power in our communities and create real change. Our right to vote gives us that power.

But whether that right is protected varies from state to state. (Yes, even today.) Some states have laws that encourage voters to participate and make our voices heard, while others have laws that confuse and block voters, which lowers turnout — and our impact.

As the largest and most diverse generation in American history, we have the strength to defend our voices and our votes. Will you join us?

We can take back our future by standing together and fighting for justice — online, in the streets, at the ballot box.

Voters can fill out a registration application online from their computer or smartphone

  • Makes voter registration convenient and more widely accessible
  • Increases registration rates
  • Removes the need to voters to print or mail application forms

Voting Rights Restoration

The process of returning voting rights to people with past criminal convictions

  • Over 6 million Americans are currently denied the right to vote due to a past conviction
  • As a result of racial disparities in incarceration and sentencing, denying the right to vote to returning citizens disproportionately affects communities of color
  • Voting rights restoration helps every American have a voice in our democracy


Know Your Voting Rights



Keeping Children Safe

Image of three kids walking with backpacksSchool is back in session. As you stock up on pencils, take first-day pictures, and adjust to new bus schedules, take a few, quick steps that can keep your child safer during an emergency.

From tornadoes to water main breaks, emergencies can occur with little or no warning—even during the school day. As children head back to school, take a few steps to help protect your child from an emergency and to reunite with your child quickly and safely.

Protecting Your Child Is as Easy as A-B-C

Ask how you would be reunited with your child in an emergency or evacuation

  • If students had to evacuate, where should you go to pick them up?
  • How would the school notify you in the event of emergency?
Easy as ABC. Ask how you would be reunited with your child in an emergency or evacuation. Bring extra medications, special food, or supplies your child would need if you were separated overnight. Complete a backpack card and tuck one in your child's backpack and your walletFollow these three steps to help protect your child during emergencies in the school day. View larger version and text description.

Bring extra medication, special foods, or supplies your child would need if you were separated overnight

  • What essential supplies would your child need if separated from you overnight? (Medications? Inhaler? Milk? Diapers? Battery pack for special equipment?)
  • Does the school have an emergency stockpile of these items or could you bring extras to be kept at school?
  • What is the school policy for how and when medicine can be administered to your child?

Complete a backpack contact information card[171 KB] and tuck one in your child’s backpack and your wallet

  • Emergencies are chaotic! Make sure your child or their school knows how to reach you, and who should be called if your phone isn’t working.
  • Download and complete your own backpack card.

Follow these A-B-C’s so that emergencies are less chaotic, children can be kept safe, and families can be reunited safely as soon as possible.

All About Your A1C

Arrows hitting a target

What has your blood sugar been up to lately? Get an A1C test to find out your average levels—important to know if you’re at risk for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, or if you’re managing diabetes.

The A1C test—also known as the hemoglobin A1C or HbA1c test—is a simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. It’s one of the commonly used tests to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes, and is also the main test to help you and your health care team manage your diabetes. Higher A1C levels are linked to diabetes complications, so reaching and maintaining your individual A1C goal is really important if you have diabetes.

What Does the A1C Test Measure?

When sugar enters your bloodstream, it attaches to hemoglobin, a protein in your red blood cells. Everybody has some sugar attached to their hemoglobin, but people with higher blood sugar levels have more. The A1C test measures the percentage of your red blood cells that have sugar-coated hemoglobin.

Who Should Get an A1C Test, and When?

Testing for diabetes or prediabetes:
Get a baseline A1C test if you’re an adult over age 45—or if you’re under 45, are overweight, and have one or more risk factors for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes:

  • If your result is normal but you’re over 45, have risk factors, or have ever had gestational diabetes, repeat the A1C test every 3 years.
  • If your result shows you have prediabetes, talk to your doctor about taking steps now to improve your health and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Repeat the A1C test as often as your doctor recommends, usually every 1 to 2 years.
  • If you don’t have symptoms but your result shows you have prediabetes or diabetes, get a second test on a different day to confirm the result.
  • If your test shows you have diabetes, ask your doctor to refer you to diabetes self-management education and support services so you can have the best start in managing your diabetes.

Managing diabetes:
If you have diabetes, get an A1C test at least twice a year, more often if your medicine changes or if you have other health conditions. Talk to your doctor about how often is right for you.

How to Prepare for Your A1C Test

The test is done in a doctor’s office or a lab using a sample of blood from a finger stick or from your arm. You don’t need to do anything special to prepare for your A1C test. However, ask your doctor if other tests will be done at the same time and if you need to prepare for them.

Your A1C Result

Diagnosing Prediabetes or Diabetes

Normal Below 5.7%
Prediabetes 5.7% to 6.4%
Diabetes 6.5% or above

A normal A1C level is below 5.7%, a level of 5.7% to 6.4% indicates prediabetes, and a level of 6.5% or more indicates diabetes. Within the 5.7% to 6.4% prediabetes range, the higher your A1C, the greater your risk is for developing type 2 diabetes.

Managing Diabetes
Your A1C result can also be reported as estimated average glucose (eAG), the same numbers (mg/dL) you’re used to seeing on your blood sugar meter:

A1C %

eAG mg/dL









A patient using a Glucometer

Get your A1C tested in addition to—not instead of—regular blood sugar self-testing if you have diabetes.

What Can Affect Your A1C Result?

Several factors can falsely increase or decrease your A1C result, including:

  • Kidney failure, liver disease, or severe anemia.
  • A less common type of hemoglobin that people of African, Mediterranean, or Southeast Asian descent and people with certain blood disorders (such as sickle cell anemia or thalassemia) may have.
  • Certain medicines, including opioids and some HIV medications.
  • Blood loss or blood transfusions.
  • Early or late pregnancy.

Let your doctor know if any of these factors apply to you, and ask if you need additional tests to find out.

Your A1C Goal

The goal for most people with diabetes is 7% or less. However, your personal goal will depend on many things such as your age and any other medical conditions. Work with your doctor to set your own individual A1C goal.

Younger people have more years with diabetes ahead, so their goal may be lower to reduce the risk of complications, unless they often have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar, or a “low”). People who are older, have severe lows, or have other serious health problems may have a higher goal.

A1C: Just Part of the Toolkit

A1C is an important tool for managing diabetes, but it doesn’t replace regular blood sugar testing at home. Blood sugar goes up and down throughout the day and night, which isn’t captured by your A1C. Two people can have the same A1C, one with steady blood sugar levels and the other with high and low swings.

If you’re reaching your A1C goal but having symptoms of highs or lows, check your blood sugar more often and at different times of day. Keep track and share the results with your doctor so you can make changes to your treatment plan if needed.


January is cervical cancer awareness month. Make sure you are in the know on what to look for. We have provided a fact sheet from the American Cancer Society for reference. Call our Women’s Health Department to make your appointment today!

Our very own Dr. Kamesha Harbison will be speaking at a local event to promote Cervical Cancer Awareness. See below for the details!

St. Francis Hospital Welcomes First Baby of 2018

 Columbus, GA (January 2, 2018) – St. Francis Hospital is ringing in 2018 with the year’s first bundle of joy. Weighing 6 pounds and 4 ounces and measuring 19 ½ inches, D’Nyla was born to Makayla and Dwight, Monday, Jan. 1, at 1:40 pm.

“We are thrilled to welcome our new baby girl!” said Makayla. “The physicians, nurses and staff at St. Francis Hospital took such great care of us and we are so grateful to them for making this experience so special.”

St. Francis Hospital’s Family Birthing Center is committed to providing high quality, compassionate care close to home for new and expecting parents. The Center offers several programs and services to help parents through the process of welcoming a new baby.  The team approach, including access to OB/GYNs, certified nurse midwives, pediatricians, nurses, lactation consultants, and educators, is designed to provide mother and baby with special, individualized care. St. Francis Hospital is the first hospital in Georgia to have earned Perinatal Care Certification from The Joint Commission.  In addition, they have been recognized by the March of Dimes for successfully reducing the number of elective inductions and cesarean deliveries performed before 39 completed weeks of pregnancy to less than one percent (1%).

 “We have an exceptional team of clinical and support staff who are dedicated to bringing new life into our community, not just on New Year’s Day but year-round,” said Dr. Kamesha Harbison, OB/GYN at St. Francis Hospital.  “Our expectation is that every patient and his or her family will have a positive experience and genuinely feel our commitment to providing the highest quality care possible, in a comfortable and welcoming environment.”

St. Francis Hospital’s Family Birthing Center is located at 2300 Manchester Expressway in the St. Francis Butler Pavilion.  To learn more or to schedule a tour of our facilities, please call 706.320.8001, or visit


About St Francis

St. Francis Hospital, a part of LifePoint Health, is a 376-bed facility that offers a full range of inpatient, outpatient and emergency room services and is the only area hospital offering open-heart surgery. With more than 2,800 employees, 300 physicians and the latest technology, we strive to help you regain and maintain your health. Our overriding goal is to provide you with the best possible care. For more information, visit

“What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!


This time of year is widely known as a time of giving, and that is exactly what the hearts of Valley Healthcare System have felt. This year the staff has come together in a number of ways to further support our community.

From the Thanksgiving “Thankful Tree” at our Columbus Location, to the Feeding the Valley food drive and Christmas Patient Sponsorships, the VHcS Board and Staff has proven to be a group of altruistic individuals with an incredible ability to come together and make magic.

We wanted to share some of that magic with you!



Valley Healthcare System, Inc. hosted a public meeting to discuss plans for seeking funding from USDA to purchase equipment. The meeting was held on December 2, 2017 at The Talbot County Library at 175 North Jefferson Street, Talbotton, Georgia 31827 and was open to the public. If you were unable to attend the meeting and have comments or questions concerning the project, contact Sarah Lang, CEO at 706-987-8334.


December 5, 2017

Valley Healthcare has been the safety net for the uninsured and under insured in the Valley Region for over 20 years. I have seen the compassion from staff to patients, who were experiencing hard times. I have seen providers with a generous spirit; help each person as they faced some of life’s hardest experiences.


A few years ago while my husband and I were at Cracker Barrel for Breakfast we got separated in the crowd while waiting to be seated. I was busy looking at the Christmas décor and lost track of time. When I began searching for Mike, I saw him looking down with a concerned look on his face. He was talking with an old friend of ours that I could not see from my vantage point.


As I came closer I heard him say “Kathy can help you get in touch with Valley Healthcare tomorrow.” As I got closer I could see Joan was crying. I made an appointment with her for the next day at my office. Joan was introduced to Valley Healthcare’s management team. They set up the care of Joan’s adult son. Joan and her husband were caregivers to their adult son who was terminal ill. Their son’s wife had sent him to his parents for his final days; he was moved across state lines so the insurance could not be transferred quickly.


The Valley Healthcare Team provided the medial support to help Joan and her husband deal with end of life care.  The Valley Healthcare providers and staff supported Joan and her husband throughout the painful days and checked on them after their son had passed away.


We were so grateful to the providers and staff of Valley Healthcare System, for the compassion showed to our friends.


Katherine Wolfe
Community Affairs Liaison
Valley Healthcare System, Inc.







Valley Healthcare System, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) Non-profit, Charitable Organization.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), in accordance with the Federally Supported Health Centers Assistance Act, as amended, sections 224(g)-(n) of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, 42 U.S.C. 233(g)-(n), deems Valley Healthcare System, Inc. to be an employee of the PHS which provides liability protection under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)

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