Minority Health: Sickle Cell

Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder of the red blood cells that is primarily found in individuals of African American or Mediterranean descent. Instead of having normal red blood cells, the cells are distorted into a sickle shape and die early. This causes a constant shortage of red blood cells, resulting in a decrease in oxygen to organs.

There are different levels of severity of sickle cell disease based on how it is passed down genetically. Individuals with sickle cell disease can have life-threatening complications, and often experience severe pain crises in various parts of the body. Long-term management of sickle cell disease involves a combination of proper preventative measures, such as anticipating crises before they happen, immunizations and screenings, as well as disease-specific measures, such as patient education on proper lifestyle modifications and medication.  These treatments are focused on preventing symptomatic episodes, decreasing occurrence of commonly related health conditions and increasing red blood cell production. Common triggers for crises, or symptomatic episodes, can include cold weather, high elevation, and infections.

With sickle cell disease, early intervention, and long-term management/primary care is key to fighting and/or preventing infections caused by the condition, as sickle cell disease patient are immunocompromised. The Cone Health Sickle Cell Medical Center provides a day fusion center to help patients when symptomatic episodes do occur. The Center serves as a facility at which patients can receive the care they need.

Spokesperson Background:

China Hollis is a family nurse practitioner at Cone Health Sickle Cell Medical Center. Hollis received a Bachelor of Science in nursing from UNCG in 2009 and a Master of Science in Nursing from Winston-Salem State University in 2014. She received her family nurse practitioner certification in May 2014.