2016 has been a year to remember. There was the threat of Zika and health risks at the hair salon, but, most of all, there were our caregivers doing what they do best – giving their all. Whether it was educating the public on the latest health threats, advancing their knowledge and skill-level to better serve their patients, giving back in their communities or saving lives, they were there…for you.

As we look back on 2016, and this year’s 100 blogs on HCA Today, here are the 10 most popular for your ‘Year in Review’.

  1. Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome

The hidden cost of beauty, could be your health. A routine visit to the hair salon for a relaxing day or a new look can – with one wrong move – change your life forever. It’s called “Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome,” and we’re here to break it down for you.

What is it?
Beauty parlor stroke syndrome can occur by having your head bent backward, or hyperextended, improperly or for a long period of time during a shampoo at the hair salon. Dr. Robert Coni, medical director of the stroke program at HCA’s Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C., explains that, because of this, the blood vessels in the back of your neck could become compressed or damaged (a tear) and result in a stroke.

happy young woman at hair salon

  1. TriStar Portland ER Hosts Country Music Star Chris Stapleton for Video on Mental Health

Country music artist Chris Stapleton’s debut solo album earned him bona fide superstar status complete with Grammys, Country Music Award (CMA) honors and a slew of trophies from the Academy of Country Music (ACM). And now, with his recently released song, “Fire Away”, the triple threat – singer, songwriter and producer – is lending his celebrity to shine a light on a disorder that disables millions of Americans – mental illness. And HCA’s TriStar Portland Emergency Room was there to help.

The reality is, mental illness is real – and has been a topic of taboo for far too long. The music video for “Fire Away,” filmed in part in TriStar Portland’s trauma room, helps to start the dialogue and bring attention to the mental health crisis in the United States.

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 (L-R: Chris Stapleton, TriStar Portland Emergency Services Manager Colby Carroll, actor Ben Foster, Morgane Stapleton, actor Margarita Levieva)

  1. Nurse Hailed Hero after Compassionate Act in Couple’s Final Hours

There are many words used to describe a nurse – A caretaker. An advocate. An educator. And in one family’s case – a hero.

Registered nurse Melissa Barajas saw art imitating life, ala “The Notebook”, earlier this year when a married couple died within hours of each other at HCA-affiliate Clear Lake Regional Medical Center. The Texas natives, Edward and Josephine Suarez, had been married for 68 years before a car accident sent them to our Bay Area Houston hospital in critical condition.

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Melissa Barajas, registered nurse, Clear Lake Regional Medical Center

  1. Broken-Heart Syndrome: What Becomes of the Broken-Hearted?

Valentine’s Day may be over, but some may have felt the sting of Cupid’s curse. So, as the 1960s love song would ask, “What becomes of the broken hearted?”

The good news is, you can recover from a broken heart. But the medical condition known as ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ is REAL.  This temporary condition, known to medics as takotsubo cardiomyopathy (TCM) or stress-induced cardiomyopathy, is often triggered by an extreme emotional or physical experience, specifically, heart break, death of a loved one, sudden illness, natural disasters, or other life-altering traumatic events.

Two parts of broken heart

  1. Honoring HCA’s Certified Nurses, Past, Present & Future

Nurses are a unique brand of people. They represent the very best qualities in health services – patience, compassion, quality care, and chief among them, skill.

As the chief nursing executive at HCA, I’m proud of the many faces of nursing throughout our organization and the excellent patient care they provide daily. In March, we recognized the unique talent and skillset of HCA’s board certified nurses – Certified Nurses Day!

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 Chief Nursing Executive Jane Englebright recognizes certified nurses, including the top-three under 30 at HCA-affiliated hospitals. 

  1. HCA Dedicates New Building in Nashville

HCA co-founder Dr. Tommy Frist, Jr., Chairman and CEO Milton Johnson, First Lady Crissy Haslam and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry in December celebrated our nearly 50-year history in Tennessee with the dedication of 1100 Charlotte at Capitol View – the company’s new 17-story building in Nashville.

The 1100 Charlotte building serves as headquarters for our subsidiaries HealthTrustSarah Cannon and Parallon, and is the anchor tenant for a new development called Capitol View. Redefining Nashville’s skyline, the $200 million investment is bringing close to 2,000 jobs to the area and will serve as a catalyst for growth in the neighborhood known as the North Gulch.

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  1. What Pregnant Women Should know about CMV

We’ve all heard of the Zika virus: the mosquito-borne illness that has dominated the headlines in recent months. Pregnant women and hopeful mothers-to-be have been educated on the potentially dangerous effects a Zika infection can have on their unborn babies’ health, specifically microcephaly, a condition that causes unusually small heads and brains, and other brain-related birth defects.

HCA executives at HCA in Nashville, April 11, 2011. Photographs by Sanford Myers

Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Perlin raises awareness of CMV.

  1. HCA Prepares for Zika Virus

As one of the leading providers of healthcare services in the United States, HCA is actively preparing its hospitals for the spread of the Zika virus to the mainland United States. Drawing on the available materials from the CDC, as well as maternal fetal medicine and infectious disease experts throughout the organization, HCA has disseminated to its hospitals general educational materials about the Zika virus and updated guidelines regarding testing and clinical management for pregnant and symptomatic patients who have traveled to areas with known Zika outbreaks. Travel history and symptoms continue to be emphasized in the triage and assessment of all patients presenting at HCA-affiliated emergency rooms and outpatient healthcare settings. In addition, HCA is working collaboratively with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments on enhanced surveillance and reporting measures to actively track the spread of the virus and to comply with certain executive orders and Public Health Emergency declarations for the Zika virus throughout the United States.

Zika Virus

  1. Is there a Doctor on Board? Physician Services Group Cardiologist Saves Woman on Plane

Dr. Stanley Wang seized another opportunity to save a life – this time, on a plane. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, an estimated 44,000 in-flight medical emergencies occur worldwide each year. And the cardiologist from Austin Heart, an affiliate of HCA’s St. David’s Healthcare, happened to be on one of those flights – traveling from New York City to Barcelona, Spain – when a fellow passenger collapsed due to cardiac arrest mid-flight over the Atlantic Ocean.

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  1. TriStar StoneCrest’s Heather Bratcher Tested by Medical Emergency, Finishes with Victory

The football season is over for some. The lockers are cleaned out, the cleats are neatly tucked away and the glare of “Friday Night Lights” is a distant memory. But to Heather Bratcher, director of emergency services at HCA’s TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center, her work on the gridiron has just begun.

The registered nurse and 17-year veteran of HCA spearheaded the collection and donation of 12 first aid emergency responder bags to middle schools in Rutherford County, Tennessee, after she found herself providing life-saving care without basic first aid tools at a Siegel Middle School football game last September.

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(L-R) Lou Caputo, CEO TriStar StoneCrest, Heather Bratcher, registered nurse and TriStar StoneCrest director of emergency services, Caleb Victory, Charlotte O’ Neal, registered nurse and TriStar StoneCrest director of trauma and Art Bratcher, Rutherford County EMS 

Honorable Mention – Most Engaging Story of 2016:

Caring for the Community: From Hopeless to Hopeful – Rob Horton Grows a Garden

Rob Horton – a member of the HCA family by day and Belmont University Healthcare MBA program by night – is also a full-time dream chaser and community do-gooder whose vision to help Nashville residents sustain a better, healthier lifestyle resulted in his “grow your own” urban farming initiative called the Trap Garden.

Horton, who works in HCA’s Clinical Services Group, founded the community garden after realizing the need for and limited access to fresh fruit, vegetables and healthy snack options in low-income neighborhoods in Nashville.

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HCA’s Rob Horton grows a garden.