Health Care

Health Care Heroes: Innovation

By Staff Reports, posted Oct 15, 2021

Honors an individual or team behind a new scientific discovery, procedure, treatment or device that can save lives or improve the quality of life for a large number of people.


Title: Chief medical officer
Organization: Wilmington Health
What the nominator said: “Dr. Jonathan Hines has served our wonderful community for 25+ years, and he has dedicated himself to not only the expert primary care he provides at Wilmington Health but also has dedicated himself to community service efforts as well throughout his many years. … Dr. Hines also serves at Wilmington Health as the chief medical officer, which he dedicates himself day-in and day-out to transforming the health care delivery system, which has truly impacted the quality of health care not only in our region but also nationwide. Dr. Hines directly supported the development of the Today’s Care Plus at Wilmington Health, which directly supports the overutilization of the ERs in our area, as well as providing readily available care to our patients in need. … In Dr. Hines’ time, he has also directly supported efforts in Wilmington Health earning accolades as providing the best value among Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) across the country. … Dr. Hines has also directly supported all of Wilmington Health’s COVID-19 pandemic efforts in ensuring our community has safe, trusted, convenient access to care and vaccines.”
- Desirae Hrynko, Wilmington Health marketing manager


Title: Chief operating officer, Physician’s Healthcare Collaborative
Organization: Wilmington Health
What the nominator said: “Melissa continuously leads with grace and compassion. While she oversees all of the operations for the operations for the Accountable Care Organization at Wilmington Health, she also finds time to mentor, challenge and teach employees and interns across all of Wilmington Health. … While every health care executive in the world has faced new challenges over the last two years, Melissa has turned those challenges into opportunities. The majority of our patients under our ACO are Medicare recipients, who have been scared and worried to come in doctors’ offices. Melissa led our team to ensure our senior patients were called and walked through how to do virtual visits. We ensured that the majority of our senior patients were scheduled for an annual wellness visit where they didn’t have to come in our office. We received 5-star ratings in a year where patients were frustrated and grieving through a pandemic but still found high value in their health care experience at Wilmington Health. Much of that comes from Melissa’s leadership in teaching our staff how to adapt to change, how to ensure a positive patient experience and how to change the health care delivery system.”
- Alexis Hunter, Wilmington Health community liaison


Title: Medical director, Cape Fear Heart Associates Atrial Fibrillation Clinic/Medical director, EP Lab
Organization: Novant Health
What the nominator said: “Dr. Meena Rao joined Cape Fear Heart Associates in 2016, after completion of her cardiology and electrophysiology fellowship at Duke University Medical Center. Her presence has had a tremendous impact on the NHRMC Electrophysiology Lab, where she performs ablations to treat cardiac arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation, supra ventricular tachycardia (SVT), atrial flutter and ventricular tachycardia (VT), and also implants cardiac devices. She brought new procedural techniques to Wilmington, including performance of radiofrequency ablation of complex arrhythmias in the left atrium and performing ablation procedures with zero radiation for staff or patient. She was the first physician in Wilmington to implant the Watchman left atrial appendage occlusion device, which is a device that reduces stroke in atrial fibrillation patients who cannot take blood thinners. She currently implants these devices in coordination with the CFHA Structural Heart Team for these needy patients. In addition to her contributions in the NHRMC Electrophysiology Lab, Dr. Rao has become a leader among the physicians at Cape Fear Heart Associates. Shortly after arrival in Wilmington, Dr. Rao became the director of the CFHA Atrial Fibrillation Clinic.”
- William Smith, Cape Fear Heart Associates medical director

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

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