Maria Parham Health

TownTalk 02-22-21 Dr. Jennifer Rymer (Covid and Your Heart)

People with existing or underlying heart conditions could experience worse symptoms if they are diagnosed with COVID-19, and a local cardiologist wants to get the word out to the community to seek medical treatment if symptoms persist.

Dr. Jennifer Rymer, an interventional cardiologist at Maria Parham Health, often sees patients who are having heart attacks when they come to the hospital. Treating heart conditions amidst a global pandemic adds a layer of caution to the work she performs.

“COVID can take all of the heart conditions – pain, fluid retention and shortness of breath with congestive heart failure and just make it worse,” she said on Monday’s Town Talk with John C. Rose. “It can weaken the squeeze of the heart and it can cause clots to form in both heart arteries and lung arteries,” she said.

“The best way to avoid all this is to avoid the virus,” Rymer said, whether by social distancing, wearing a mask or getting the vaccine. “As soon as you can get the vaccine…you should absolutely attempt to get it,” she said.

Side effects of the vaccine, for the vast majority of those who have received the shot, are minimal and short-lived. They include mild flu-like symptoms like low-grade fever and achiness. These usually go away within 48 hours of getting the vaccine. If those symptoms do NOT go away after, say 72 hours, you should get checked out by a medical professional.

The protective properties of the vaccine are especially important, especially those with heart conditions. “The protective mechanism of the vaccine … cannot be underscored enough,” Rymer said. “It is just critical for these patients to try to get immunity to this disease and to this virus.”

That post-vaccine achiness is actually “your body’s attempt at working to develop antibodies against the virus.” Rymer said. Although not particularly pleasant to endure, she said it is “a sign that the immunization is working.”

Dr. Jennifer Rymer audio on WIZS TownTalk.  Story script continues below.

Interventional cardiologists perform catheterizations, and often are able to fix blockages with either the placement of stents or balloons to strengthen a weakened blood vessel wall. Patients with underlying heart disease, who have already had a heart attack or who have congestive heart disease aren’t able to rebound as quickly from other health problems, she said. COVID-19 “puts the body under stress,” she said, and those with coronary disease are more susceptible.

People also can experience a heart attack as a result of their COVID-19 infection, she said, because of the added stress the virus infection places on the body. Additional health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol and being overweight add more risk factors for patients, she said. Patients in these higher-risk categories often aren’t able to fight off infection as well, Rymer added.

Complications of COVID-19 can include the formation of clots in the arteries of the lungs and heart, she said. Symptoms include chest pain that is new for you, and extreme shortness of breath. Increased fluid retention is another symptom to be mindful of, she noted. These symptoms also are associated with congestive heart failure, she said. “COVID can take all the symptoms and make it worse,” she warned.

Rymer said even patients in their 20s and 30s with no underlying heart conditions have experienced heart problems brought on by COVID-19. The virus can attack the heart wall which can mimic congestive heart failure. In such cases, the patients are treated with medications to try to improve the function of the heart wall muscle – “hopefully the symptoms will resolve, but in some cases it doesn’t resolve,” she said.

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(This post, news and audio is not meant to offer medical advice or to render a diagnosis or treatment options.  Always consult with your physician or a medical professional.  This is an informational broadcast and script only.)

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Your Thyroid Is So Important; January Is National Thyroid Awareness Month

If you’re feeling generally well today, you probably have your thyroid to thank. Dr. Gary Smith, family physician Maria Parham Primary Care, discussed the multiple jobs that this small, butterfly-shaped gland has to keep our bodies functioning normally.

January is National Thyroid Awareness month, and Smith was a guest on Town Talk Wednesday to discuss the thyroid’s role in good health.

The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, and it produces several hormones that help to regulate metabolism and body temperature, among other functions. It is located in the front of the neck, near the middle and below the Adam’s apple. “It has profound effects on the mind and the body,” Smith said. “The thyroid has many functions – it regulates hormones of the body, temperature regulations, stability of organ systems,” he said.

A simple blood test can show whether the thyroid is producing too much hormone or too little, he said. In either case, Smith said, medication is most often the answer. Hypothyroidism, when the thyroid isn’t producing enough hormone, can cause slower heart rate or brittle, dry nails and hair loss, he said. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism, when the thyroid over-produces hormone, could include nervousness, increased heart rate or anxiety, he added. Medication is needed to either stimulate or slow the thyroid. “We like a nice, normal level to be in sync with other parts of the body,” Smith noted.

Click Play to Listen to the TownTalk Interview…

In addition to helping regulate your heartbeat, a healthy thyroid also “helps blood flow to the brain so you can think clearly,” Smith said. It affects the lungs and how we breathe, our intestines and how we process and digest food as well. “We are definitely dependent on the thyroid gland for (healthy) function of our body,” Smith said.

A healthy diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as exercise, serve to support the body’s immune system and increases blood flow throughout the body, including to the thyroid.

The thyroid may be a small gland, but its role in overall health is significant. “We don’t take this gland for granted,” Smith said. “If a patient feels their neck and something doesn’t feel right, a mass or something hard, call your primary care physician. Don’t wait,” he advised.

In cases that diseased or cancerous thyroids are removed, patients would benefit from supplementing with a synthetic hormone to replace what the body no longer naturally produces.

Smith’s advice for anyone with questions or concerns? Consult with their primary care physician. “That’s the best thing to do, to follow up with your primary care physician and let them assist the patient in whatever their concerns are,” he said. We’ll explore it, and we’ll find the cause or the reason for the concern.”

(Maria Parham Health is an advertising client of WIZS.  This is not a paid ad.)

Maria Parham Health

Why I Got the COVID-19 Vaccine by Adrian Ogle

Submitted by Adrian Ogle, Chief of Staff, Maria Parham Health

For most of us, this past holiday season was unlike any other we have experienced. Instead of the typical hustle and bustle of holiday parties, family gatherings and being surrounded by those we love – this year was just different. I know for me personally, I missed seeing my mother and other beloved family members due to the restrictions of COVID-19.

While changing traditions this year was hard, I know there are people here in our community who are facing much greater difficulties because of how COVID-19 has impacted their lives. I see these challenges every single day in my role on the frontlines of fighting this pandemic as a Chief of Staff.

That’s why I’m excited and proud to be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. I know many people have questions or concerns about the vaccine – I did too, at first. However, after talking to other clinicians I know and trust, reviewing the facts and being tired of missing so much in 2020, I feel very confident in my decision to get vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same rigorous process to gain authorization that all vaccines available in the United States have gone through – no steps were skipped, and no corners were cut. Researchers anticipate that the vaccine will be approximately 95% effective. This is significantly higher than other common (and important) vaccines like the flu vaccine, which is typically between 40-60% effective.

You’ve probably heard about the potential side effects, which can include pain at the injection site and sometimes headaches, muscle pain, body aches, fatigue or fever. I personally experienced mild soreness and achiness around the injection site, which were mild and went away within two days. I can tell you from personal experience serving patients and families every day during this crisis that these potential side effects pale in comparison to the challenges that come with a serious case of COVID-19.

For me, I chose to get the vaccine because it is very important that we as a community all take measures to control Covid-19 to allow us to return to a sense of normalcy.

With the COVID-19 vaccine, I believe we are on the right path toward reaching an end to the pandemic and returning to normal life – but it is going to take all of us doing our part by choosing to get vaccinated, continuing to wear masks, maintaining social distancing and practicing hand hygiene until the vaccination is widely administered. I want to encourage every member of our community to step up and be a vaccine hero once it is available to you. Do it for your family, your friends, yourself – and all of us at Maria Parham Health.

While there is much that we all missed last year because of the pandemic, there is now a light at the end of the tunnel. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve this community, and I will continue to do my part to help ensure that brighter days are ahead in 2021.

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Maria Parham Health Welcomes First Baby of 2021

— press release

Maria Parham Health is ringing in 2021 with the year’s first bundle of joy. Weighing 5 pounds and 15 ounces and measuring 19 inches, Raylen Nicole was born to Alyssa and Donnie, Monday, Jan. 4, at 4:54 PM.

 “We are so excited to meet the newest member of our family!” said Alyssa. “We are so grateful to the physicians, nurses, and staff at Maria Parham for taking such good care of us and making this experience special for our family.”

Maria Parham’s Women’s Center is committed to providing high quality, compassionate care close to home for new and expecting parents in the region. The Center offers 24-7 in-house obstetrical coverage, attentive and dedicated nursing care while in labor, and dedicated and experienced staff.

“Our clinical and support staff are committed to creating a safe, welcoming and comfortable environment for moms and babies,” said Janice Martinez, CNM at Maria Parham. “It is one of our great privileges to help our community’s families welcome their newest additions in a positive and memorable way.”

Maria Parham’s Women’s Center is located at 566 Ruin Creek Rd, Henderson, NC.  To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please call 252-438-4143, or visit

About Maria Parham Health 

Maria Parham Health, a Duke LifePoint hospital, is a regional health system with campuses in Henderson, N.C., and Louisburg, N.C. serving the people of north-central North Carolina and Southside Virginia. Maria Parham offers a wide range of services and the latest technology to meet the health care needs of the community. It is fully accredited by The Joint Commission and CMS. For more information about Maria Parham Health, please call (252) 438-4143 or visit

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Vaccine Here; TownTalk 12-23-20 MPH CEO Beard Beard

Vaccine is here.  Maria Parham Health is administering within guidelines.

Last week Maria Parham Health CEO, in talking about Covid-19, said, “It’s been an amazing journey and amazing to watch our healthcare providers in our teams step up over the last year in spite of everything that’s gone on. So I would definitely use exciting or ecstatic to describe just the hope that it gives to receive that vaccine (Tuesday).”

On Tuesday, Dec 22, 2020 the hospital received the Moderna vaccine, and begin administering it Wednesday morning to “front line healthcare workers under the state guidelines of phase 1A.”

On Wednesday MPH administered, Beard said, “from 80 to 90 vaccines and then we will break for the holiday because people need to be off and they need to recharge their battery, and we’ll begin again next week vaccinating our teams within the state guidelines and moving through that progression of the four phases as they allow us and release more vaccine to us.”

Click play to hear Beard on TownTalk…

He said, “It’s mixed among people whether they’re going to get it and how effective it’s going to be. All indications and research that our company and health system has done indicates there’s a 95% effectiveness. So we’re encouraging folks to do it; we’re not mandating it, but we are posting on social media, our physicians, our leaders, some of our nurse leaders to show that it is safe and that we are adopting it to get things back to normal in 2021.”

Beard said the hospital teams are looking forward to being able to vaccinate more and more people as the state releases healthcare workers to do so.

New Visitor Restrictions at Maria Parham


New visitor restrictions at Maria Parham Health go into effect Monday, December 14, 2020.

No visitor policies will be in place.  The policies, along with what is allowed, are outlined below.

Dr. Kayla Cagle-Colon MPH

Dr. Kayla J. Cagle-Colon Joins Maria Parham Women’s Care

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-Press Release, Maria Parham Health

Maria Parham Health (MPH), a Duke LifePoint hospital, is excited to announce that Kayla J. Cagle-Colon, MD, has joined their women’s care practice, Maria Parham Women’s Care. Dr. Cagle-Colon joins the community from New York, New York where she has completed her residency program.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Cagle-Colon to North Carolina to practice at Maria Parham Health,” said Bert Beard, CEO of Maria Parham Health. “Women’s Care is a growing need in our community, and Dr. Cagle-Colon’s training at Yale and fellowship at Bellevue Hospital (New York, New York) have given her a great breadth of experience in a wide range of procedures that people in our region need. This expertise will be important as Maria Parham Health works to make our community healthier.”

Kayla J. Cagle-Colon, MD, has joined Maria Parham Health’s women’s care practice, Maria Parham Women’s Care. (Photo courtesy MPH)

Dr. Cagle-Colon earned her medical degree from the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, Sioux Falls, SD. She completed a residency program at New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY. Dr. Cagle-Colon is a member of the American Medical Women’s Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists.

When she is not working, Dr. Cagle-Colon enjoys fishing, horseback riding, reading, traveling, and quality time with her husband and two dogs.

Dr. Cagle-Colon is now accepting patients at Maria Parham Women’s Care, located at 1209 SE Industry Drive in Oxford, North Carolina. This practice offers women’s health care services including, well-woman visits, obstetrical care, birth control management, high-risk pregnancy care, and menopause management.

To schedule an appointment, please call (252) 492-8576.

Maria Parham Health

MPH Cancer Center to Hold Drive-Thru Survivor Dinner Nov. 5


The Maria Parham Cancer Center will hold a drive-thru cancer survivor dinner on Thursday, November 5, 2020, from 4 until 6 p.m. The event will take place at the Cancer Center – 566 Ruin Creek Road in Henderson (entrance under canopy).

One dinner plate is available for each survivor, and one dinner plate is available for the survivor’s caregiver. Plates are available while supplies last.

The MPH Cancer Center expressed the following sentiment, “In light of all the challenges we have faced throughout 2020, Maria Parham does not want to lose sight of the journey our cancer survivors and caregivers have traveled. We would like to take this evening to celebrate you and your family.”

To learn more or to RSVP, call Kimberly Smith at (252) 436-1656 or visit online at