Health Care

2020 Health Care Heroes Finalists

By Vicky Janowski, posted Oct 16, 2020
The word “hero” has been used a lot this year.
During a global pandemic, caused by an un­known virus, those who take on risk to help and treat others have earned that title and more.
The Greater Wilmington Business Journal has put on the Health Care Heroes awards program since 2013 to honor the people and organizations making an im­pact on the quality of health care in the region.
In planning this year’s awards program, we talked about whether to add a 12th category specifical­ly recognizing the work done on the fight against the coronavirus. But we decided against it, noting that COVID-19 has permeated all corners of health care – from the work done by the health providers, volunteers, professionals, adminis­trators and others who are recog­nized in the awards.
And that was reflected in the nominations that came in this year from patients, peers, co-workers and fami­lies.
From an infectious disease physician and communi­cable disease nurse to a respiratory therapist to a para­medic visiting patients in their homes so they can limit their exposure. They, along with countless others, have formed the frontline to help protect the community.
And still, other health concerns never took a pause just because the rest of the world did. Many of the fi­nalists this year continued their efforts to address those issues as well.
Included in this year’s awards special section is the finalists in 10 categories: Community Achievement, Community Outreach, First Responder, Innovation in Health Care, Health Care Executive, PA/NP, Physician, Nurse, Health Care Professional and Volunteer.
Their nominators share their accolades on the fol­lowing pages.
One of those is a tribute to Dr. Hemantkumar “Henry” Patel, a well-known and respected cardiologist who died earlier this year (page 14).
And this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipi­ent is Dr. Daniel Gottovi, who was key in the founding of Wilmington Health Associates (now Wilmington Health) and Lower Cape Fear Hospice (now Lower Cape Fear LifeCare) – two organizations that have played pivotal roles this year.
We normally have a big party to recognize the finalists and announce the winners. A big part of the program is to give health care workers a much-deserved night out. This year, of course, is different, but the in­tention behind the honors remains. So, please join us in congratulating and thanking these Health Care Heroes.
-Vicky Janowski, editor
Greater Wilmington Business Journal
[email protected]
On Twitter: @vickyjanowski

About the Judging

Each year, the Business Journal opens up the nominations process to the community for the Health Care Heroes awards. 

Our outside judging panel combs through the nominations and applications to pick the finalists and winners in each of the 10 categories as well as the Lifetime Achievement honor. 

Judges who know or work with the nominees disclosed any potential conflicts. In the cases in which judges were nominated in a category, they were recused from the deliberation process. 

Johnsie Davis, New Hanover Regional Medical Center 

Kelly Erola, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare 

Michealle Gady, Atromitos 

Chris George, PNC Bank 

Charles Hardy, UNCW College of Health and Human Services 

Jim Hundley Sr., retired physician and businessman 

Alexis Hunter, Wilmington Health 

Zac Long, Well Care Health 

Elaine Loyack, Delta Dental 

Norman Robinson, New Hanover-Pender County Medical Society representative 

Meet this the 2020 Health Care Heroes finalists:

Lifetime Achievement:
  • Dan Gottovi, Co-founder, Wilmington Health & Lower Cape Fear LifeCare
Community Achievement:
  • Elizabeth Barnes, Co-founder and executive director, Hope Abounds Cancer Network Inc.
  • Marissa Bryant Franks, Health equity outreach coordinator, New Hanover Regional Medical Center
  • Desirae Hrynko, Marketing manager, Wilmington Health
Community Outreach:
  • Joe Conway, Director of health equity and human experience, New Hanover Regional Medical Center
  • TR Nunley, Program Coordinator, Wilmington Transgender Support Services
  • Craig Wagner, Chief marketing and engagement officer, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare

First Responder:
  • Bethany Hart, Flight paramedic, NHRMC AirLink/VitalLink Critical Care Transport
  • Jim Mistovich, Community paramedic, NHRMC EMS

Health Care Executive:
  • Ryan Estes, Treatment operations director, Coastal Horizons Center Inc.
  • David Schultz, Hospitalist and associate chief medical officer, Wilmington Health
  • David Stanely, Executive director, Brunswick County Health and Human Services 

Health Care Professional:
  • Janet Axelson, Medical social worker, Well Care Health
  • LuAnn Barwick, Respiratory Therapist, Dosher Memorial Hospital
  • Nova Swanstrom, Therapist, Delta Behavioral Health

Innovation in Health Care:
  • Andy Almeter, Manager of business operations, regional and specialty service, New Hanover Regional Medical Center
  • Jeff James, CEO, Wilmington Health
  • UNCW School of Nursing Faculty and Staff
Nurse Practitioner / Physician Assistant:
  • Laura Quarino, Family nurse practitioner, Brunswick County Health Services 
  • Amanda Reynolds, Family nurse practitioner, Dosher Medical Urgent Care
  • Rebecca Westendorf, Physician assistant, Cape Fear Heart Associates
  • Rachael Baldwin, Lead communicable disease nurse, Brunswick County Health Services
  • Jurley Torian, Registered nurse, account executive, Well Care Health
  • Mitchell Watson, RN, New Hanover Regional Medical Center
  • Paul Kamitsuka, Infectious disease expert, Wilmington Health
  • Rebecca Clare Lee, Physician, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare
  • Henry Patel, Electrophysiologist, Cape Fear Heart Associates
  • George Elam, Volunteer and president, New Hanover Regional Medical Center Auxiliary Board of Directors, NHRMC
  • Lt. Constance Foreman, Physician and Navy Reserve officer, NHRMC Physician Group
  • Dan Kopchick, Volunteer, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare
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