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Asheville Watchdog

Becky Tin Joins Board of Asheville Watchdog

Becky Tin

Becky Tin, a lawyer and former district court judge, has joined Asheville Watchdog’s Board of Directors. 

Tin, who divides her time between Asheville and Charlotte, was a Mecklenburg County District Court judge for 16 years, presiding over domestic violence cases, high-conflict divorces, landlord-tenant and other civil and criminal matters. 

She received the 2013 Women of Justice Award for Public Service from North Carolina Lawyers Weekly; was recognized as 2018 Judge of the Year by the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys; and received the 2019 John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award for exemplary service to the legal profession from the North Carolina State Bar. She also served on the North Carolina District Court Judges’ Education Committee with faculty from the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill, helping to design curriculum and lecturing at statewide judicial conferences.

Before her legal career,

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2 Quit Board of Transylvania Hospital, Saying ‘We Fear for Its Future’ under HCA

Parker Platt (left) and Mark Weinstein

Two long-time members of the Transylvania Regional Hospital board of directors resigned Monday, saying they were “embarrassed” to have supported the sale of the Mission Health System to giant HCA Healthcare and that they now fear for the future of the Brevard-based community hospital under HCA’s profit-driven management.

In an open letter to The Transylvania Times, the board members, Parker Platt and Mark Weinstein, said they had been sidelined and rendered “powerless” and “voiceless” by the HCA-dominated board. “It is our hope that our resignations might have a more positive influence on the hospital’s future direction than if we remained on the board,” they wrote.

Asked by The Watchdog to comment on Platt’s and Weinstein’s resignations, a hospital spokeswoman said, “We thank them for their service.”

The resignations highlight growing community dissatisfaction with HCA’s operation of the 92-bed,

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Trish Jones Joins Asheville Watchdog’s Board of Directors

Trish Jones

Trish Jones, a former senior executive at Turner Broadcasting System in Atlanta, has joined Asheville Watchdog’s Board of Directors. As director she will help oversee overall direction and strategy of the year-old nonprofit news organization.

Jones, a resident of Asheville, was senior director of business planning at the Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta before joining Turner. At Turner she held roles as executive vice president and general counsel of Turner Broadcasting International and deputy general counsel of the Turner organization. She went on to become senior vice president and chief emerging technologies officer.

A graduate of Spring Hill College and the University of Richmond School of Law, she earned a master’s degree in international law at Georgetown University Law Center. She is a member of the Virginia and Georgia state bar associations.

Jones is also a director of the National Center for Women &

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COVID Surge: 51 Dead in August. ‘We’re running out of ambulances’

Record Number of Cases Reported at Mission

Death certificate for one of 24 COVID victims who died at Mission in late August

Jessica Vaughn, a 33-year-old mother of five, was found dead in her Asheville apartment. The cause: COVID-19.

Brianna Justus, a 31-year-old expectant mother, went from healthy to COVID intensive care patient at Mission Hospital in less than a week. Her baby, delivered by emergency cesarean section, survived. Brianna Justus did not.

Thomas Turner of West Asheville waited nearly two hours at an urgent care center without being seen before driving himself to Mission, his family said. He never made it inside. Turner, 59, died in the parking lot while his wife, who also had COVID, was being treated in the emergency room.

Their deaths are just a few from a current surge that is overwhelming Buncombe County’s health care system, taxing already exhausted doctors and nurses, and afflicting a large swath of Western North Carolina in numbers not seen since the pre-vaccine pandemic peak.

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“It’s going to lead to one place … bloodshed.” What Madison Cawthorn said to supporters

“We need to be storing up some ammunition,” Congressman says

Rep. Madison Cawthorn speaks to Macon County GOP supporters on Aug. 29 (YouTube)

Congressman Madison Cawthorn, Republican representing western North Carolina, spoke this week to Macon County Republicans in Franklin. The organizer estimated the crowd at more than 200 people. The Macon County Republican Party posted a 1-hour, 28-minute video on its Facebook page, but removed it after Cawthorn’s remarks attracted nationwide scrutiny. A copy of the video can be found on YouTube here.

During remarks that were frequently interrupted with applause and cheers from the overwhelmingly white, unmasked crowd, Cawthorn, holding a shotgun he was asked to sign, says the Second Amendment is not for hunting or target shooting but rather for fighting tyranny. He advises the crowd to begin stockpiling ammunition for what he says is likely American-versus-American “bloodshed” over unfavorable election results.

He repeats his claims that the American election system is “rigged” and that the 2020 election was “stolen” from Donald Trump,

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The Man Who Would Be Sheriff: Buncombe Candidate Vows to Make Everything Right

“The biggest terrorist organization right now is the United States government"

David Hurley, candidate for Buncombe County Sheriff, speaks to supporters in Asheville

[This article has been modified since it was originally published. A correction notice has been added.]

Under a Carolina-blue sky, shaded by the oaks framing Pack Square, the small crowd formed a loose, attentive circle around a man speaking and gesticulating with the fervor of a revivalist. This was David Hurley, 37, a candidate to become the Buncombe county sheriff in 2022. 

But, he told the crowd, he wouldn’t be your typical sheriff. 

Hurley described a “constitutional sheriff,” a kind of super authority who would reign supreme over all law enforcement, more powerful than mayors, county commissioners, the governor and — when it came to local matters — even the president.

“The sheriff is the ultimate power in America,” Hurley declared, pacing inside the circle. “It’s been the best-kept secret that they didn’t want to get out.

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As Hospitals Elsewhere Mandate Vaccines for Staff, Mission and Others Resist

Despite "critical" need, administrators fear workers will quit

A choice to be made between an individual and their doctor

The largest healthcare providers in Western North Carolina, including Mission Hospital in Asheville, confirmed this week that they are not requiring doctors, nurses, volunteers, or other hospital staff to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus despite a resurgence of infections and hospitalizations.

Most of the other major hospital systems in the state have made full vaccinations mandatory, citing staff and patient safety as a highly contagious COVID-19 variant spreads nationwide, almost entirely among people who have not been vaccinated or are only partly vaccinated.

Hospital administrators and clinical leaders say they agree that vaccinations represent the most effective way to stop the pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 Americans, including hundreds of people in Asheville and surrounding communities.

Few people are more familiar with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic than hospital workers. Even so, hospital administrators in Western North Carolina — where science and politics are not always compatible — said nurses,

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Quality of Care Concerns Rise at Mission Hospital

Patients, Staff Challenge HCA Management

Mission Hospital Emergency Department in Asheville // Peter H. Lewis photo

[Editor’s Note: This story has been modified since its original publication. A correction and clarification was added at the bottom to explain the changes.]

Forrest Johnson fell in her garden on April 22 and broke her leg in two places. Her husband and stepdaughter rushed the 68-year-old former nurse to the Mission Hospital emergency room in Asheville from their home near Burnsville, about an hour’s drive. They arrived around 8 p.m.

Having spent 20 years in nursing, Johnson said, “I sort of knew what to expect.” But what she did not expect was that she would lie for nearly six hours in the emergency room without water, ice, a blanket, a pillow to elevate her leg, food, or pain medication. 

Forrest Johnson

“I just had a very busy nurse,” Johnson said.

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Profits are up at HCA. Ratings are down at Mission.

For executive pay, earnings matter more than quality of care

HCA Mission Hospital in Asheville

HCA Healthcare, which owns and operates Mission Hospital in Asheville, reported this month that it made $1.4 billion in profits for the first three months of 2021, more than double the amount for the same period last year. 

The new figures follow HCA’s report in February that annual profits rose to a record $3.8 billion in 2020, despite the pandemic, based on what the company called “solid cost management.”

In a proxy statement filed last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission, HCA stated its primary objective is “providing the highest quality health care to our patients, while making a positive impact on the communities in which we operate.” But the document shows that the company rewards top executives far more for taking care of shareholders than it does for taking care of patients. 

A year after announcing that its senior leaders would take up to 30 percent pay cuts during the pandemic,

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Can Asheville become more than beer and bears?

Some believe fortunes will be made by investors in 'Climate City'

Asheville is the center of the climate data universe. Climate.gov graphic modified by Asheville Watchdog

The answer to every quantifiable question about climate and weather here on Earth and throughout the solar system lies in the more than 40 petabytes of data stored in the Asheville computer system.