Health Care

Health Care Heroes: Community Achievement

By Staff Reports, posted Oct 15, 2021

Honors an individual or team who successfully implemented a program addressing a problem in health care administration or delivery.


Organization: Coastal Horizons
What the nominator said: “The Quick Response Team (QRT) of Coastal Horizons operates in the Wilmington area to engage overdose survivors, those who are at high risk of overdose and those close to them – helping them to be safer, supported and ultimately connected to treatment and recovery resources.
The QRT, which is headed up by Buffy Hughes, is comprised of Peer Support Specialists – who have lived experience with substance use and/or mental health issues – and Licensed Therapists – who are trained in evidence-based interventions – to build rapport, encourage safer practices and then facilitate access to treatment and recovery resources. … Since QRT began in 2018, they have been able to meet with 566 overdose survivors and connected 493 overdose survivors to treatment, which has given QRT an overall engagement rate of 85.7%. QRT made over 3,000 follow-up contacts since inception to provide a team-based approach that allowed QRT staff to build relationships with each person. Since inception, there have been 14 subsequent overdoses after an overdose survivor was engaged with QRT and unfortunately five deaths since 2018.”

- Elizabeth Redenbaugh, Coastal Horizons development director

Pictured from left to right: April McCoy, Buffy Taylor, Montrel Miller, Akilah Shaw, Sam Kiger, Sonny Russell, and Danielle Mickelonis.


Title: Director of health services
Organization: Plantation Village
What the nominator said: “Alyssa Thompson is a registered nurse and director of health care services at Plantation Village, a nonprofit Life Plan Community in Porters Neck. When COVID hit in early 2020, Alyssa’s leadership was instrumental in implementing an emergency response campaign that kept the community’s 300 residents 100% COVID-free during the quarantine period before vaccinations were available. Alyssa spearheaded Plantation Village’s on-site COVID vaccination program and successfully vaccinated more than 99% of all residents, which is a phenomenal feat that demonstrates her expertise not only in health care, but in advocacy and resident relations. She has worked tirelessly for 18+ months since COVID first became a concern; has selflessly volunteered to cover overnight shifts for her staff members and consistently supports both the residents and staff to keep them happy and healthy in both body and spirit. As a registered nurse with 20+ years’ experience, Alyssa has worked in a variety of settings, including independent living, assisted living and memory care, home health case management and primary care.”

- Plantation Village


Title: Public Health assistant director
Organiztion: New Hanover County Health & Human Services
What the nominator said: “At the onset of the pandemic, Carla Turner, Public Health Assistant Director for New Hanover County Health and Human Services (HHS), led her team to begin surveillance and contact tracing for county residents infected with the virus. … She coordinated testing sites for persons suspecting infection. She engaged her contacts within the Sheriff’s [Office], Emergency Management, Fire and Rescue to assist in these efforts. She led the implementation of a COVID Call Center to assist the public with the numerous questions they had about this new and deadly virus. When HHS was faced with the daunting challenge of delivering COVID-19 vaccines to our community, they committed to achieving this with unmatched dedication and perseverance. When HHS received limited supplies of life-saving vaccine, the nursing staff of HHS delivered vaccine efficiently and with great speed. Carla oversees approximately 75 public health nurses. She organized them to operationalize three large volume vaccination sites. On some days, each site administered over 1,000 doses of vaccine. Carla was ever-present – doing anything to help, whether the task was big or small. … Carla is truly an unsung hero during this pandemic.”

- Donna Fayko, NHC Health & Human Services director

Read more about all of the 2021 Health Care Heroes finalists here.

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