Life-Changing Weight Loss Surgery

Last year, Carolyn Ponce was ready to make a drastic change. 
Carolyn Ponce

She had tried every weight loss diet or program on the market, and none seemed to keep the weight off. Then she attended a weight loss seminar by Dr. Willie Harper of St. Bernards Surgical Associates, and it changed her life. 

Carolyn underwent a vertical sleeve gastrectomy and is now active, healthy and leading her best life. 

Learn more about Carolyn's experience in the video below. If you would like to attend one of Dr. Harper's weight loss seminars, please visit the St. Bernards Calendar of Events

Ride for Your Ribbon This Saturday

The inaugural St. Bernards Ride for your Ribbon will be 
held Saturday,
July 22. 

The bike ride, which will begin at St. Bernards Health and Wellness, features three distances for participants: An eight-mile family fun ride, as well as a 25-mile or 50-mile course. 

Proceeds from this event benefit the St. Bernards Cancer Center. 

Funds raised will provide cancer patients all across northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri with much need resources, including better access to education, transportation relief, screening opportunities and invaluable treatment options. 

Not a cyclist? No problem! Ride a mile on the stationary bikes located at Health and Wellness or sign up as a spirit rider. 

To register for this great event, or to learn more, visit Races Online

Physician Spotlight: Dr. Darrell Ragland

Dr. Darrell Ragland never intended to practice medicine in Jonesboro, but life had other plans.

After growing up in Little Rock, he attended college at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and medical school at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Dr. Darrell Ragland

"Family practice was the program I enjoyed the most throughout medical school," he said. "I loved working directly with people and helping them be healthier."

After graduating medical school, he came to Jonesboro for his family medicine residency, a three-year program through UAMS. Dr. Ragland planned to move back to central Arkansas as soon as his residency was completed, but then he fell in love with a woman named Jan. She had grown up in northeast Arkansas and didn't intend to leave.

So Dr. Ragland decided to stay, and he built his life and his medical practice in Jonesboro.

After completing his residency, Dr. Ragland worked in the Emergency Department at St. Bernards for a year before accepting a family medicine position at First Care, a position he still holds today.
Over the years, he has seen thousands of patients.

"For me, the fun part of the practice is seeing people over long periods of time," he said. "I have gotten to know entire families. I would say that's the best part of serving in primary care."

The Raglands have three daughters - Elizabeth, Mary Catherine and Victoria.

"I like to joke that I've invested in one thing over the years: Women's clothing," he said. "I grew up in a house of boys, so being surrounded by women for my entire adult life has certainly been fun."

In his spare time, Dr. Ragland enjoys spending time with his grandchildren - three of whom live in Jonesboro and two in Nashville. He also runs in 5K and 10K races with his daughter Victoria.

Recently he has taken up golfing, a sport he is learning to spend more time with his wife, an avid golfer. He and Jan are also season ticket holders for Ole Miss football games, having fallen in love with the school after all three daughters attended there.

One question Dr. Ragland fields regularly these days: Is he planning to retire anytime soon?

"I enjoy my work, so I'm planning to keep working as long as I stay healthy," he says with a laugh.

Dr. Ragland practices at the  First Care clinic at 415 E. Matthews. To make an appointment with him, please call 870-972-8181.

Celebrating 117 Years of Service

On a steamy July day 117 years ago, something remarkable happened in Jonesboro.

St. Bernards Hospital in 1905
The first hospital in the northeast quadrant of Arkansas opened, taking its first patients on July 5, 1900.

That hospital -- named St. Bernards in honor of St. Bernard Tolomei, founder of Olivetan Benedictines -- was a beacon of hope for the region which had been hard hit by a malarial fever epidemic.

St. Bernards was born out of community need and was an undertaking of the Olivetan Benediction sisters of Holy Angels Convent in Jonesboro. At the urging of local physicians, the sisters -- who came here to fulfill a mission of teaching -- stepped up to meet an overwhelming need to help the sick. 

With assistance of community leaders, they were able to raise funds to purchase a two-story frame house on Matthews in the same area where St. Bernards Medical Center is located today. The sisters scrubbed, varnished and transformed the six-room house into a hospital.

Want to learn more about this history of St. Bernards? Check out this post on Blog from the Heart. 

Soak Up the Sun...Safely
July is National Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month, so it's the perfect time to remind ourselves that we must protect our skin and eyes from damaging effects of the sun. 

Sun exposure is recommended because it is our primary source for Vitamin D, which helps us absorb calcium for stronger, healthier bones. We must remember, however, moderation is key.

Here are a few tips to help you minimize the risk that comes with too much sun exposure.

Cover Up: Wear tightly-woven clothing that blocks out the light, such as: long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes. If you're unsure how much protection you'll get from your clothing, try this: Place your hand between a single layer of clothing and a light source. If you can see your hand through the fabric, it offers little protection.

Seek Out the Shade: UV rays pose the greatest risk between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; staying in the shade during this time of day will protect your skin further. Remember, the sun still can damage your skin on cloudy days. If you're unsure of the sun's intensity, take the shadow test: If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun's rays are the day's strongest.
Wear Sunscreen: According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, the majority of people only apply 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. An SPF of at least 15 blocks 93 percent of UV rays. You should apply at least one ounce (a palmful) of sunscreen every two hours. If you are swimming or sweating, you should reapply more often.

Wear Sunglasses : Effective sunglasses should block glare and 99 to 100 percent of UV rays and have a wraparound shape to protect your eyes from all angles.

Learn more on the Blog from the Heart
Alzheimer's Disease: 
What You Need to Know

We've all heard of Alzheimer's Disease, but many people don't know the symptoms, causes or treatments.
Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior. The exact cause is not known, although research shows that certain changes in the brain lead to the disease.
Early symptoms can include:
  • Difficulty performing tasks that take some thought, but used to come easily, such as balancing a checkbook, playing complex games (bridge) and learning new information or routines
  • Getting lost on familiar routes
  • Language problems, such as trouble remembering names of familiar objects
  • Losing interest in things previously enjoyed and being in a flat mood
  • Misplacing items
  • Personality changes and loss of social skills
Learn more about Alzheimer's symptoms and treatments at the St. Bernards Blog from the Heart