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Health Care Heroes: Innovation In Health Care

By Staff Reports, posted Oct 16, 2020

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. 


Andy Almeter

Title: Manager of business operations, regional and specialty service 

Organization: New Hanover Regional Medical Center 

What the nominaor said: “Because of Andy Almeter’s previous work in understanding how physical infrastructure impacts health, and understanding and using healthcare data to predict outcomes, Senior Leadership drafted him at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to assist NHRMC’s Incident Command with predictive modeling. 

“Combining information from national and local trends with active local case data, Andy worked with leadership to anticipate the number and type of hospital admissions at NHRMC. 

“Using this data, Andy was also able to assist supply chain leadership in the development of a PPE dashboard based on the actual and anticipated number of patients in the system. This has provided system level awareness of the most important PPE items needed to keep staff, patients and the community safe as COVID-19 developed, and prevented shortages. 

“Andy also took the lead in developing a COVID-19 research team to explore the latest daily publications and research about coronavirus.” 

- Michael Voorheis, senior copywriter, NHRMC 


Jeff James

Title: CEO 

Organization: Wilmington Health 

What the nominator said: “Wilmington Health is committed to continually developing collaborative and innovative solutions that demonstrate quality, reduce the cost of care and improve the patient experience. Jeff’s mantra with his leadership team is to meet patients’ needs exactly where and how the patients want them to be met. 

“Wilmington Health implemented a comprehensive communication platform that allows patients to interact with practice team members and providers via text, email and live-chat. Patients who do not have smartphones have access to live-chat via the Wilmington Health website as an alternative. . . . 

“On March 1, 2020, Wilmington Health opened Today’s Care+ to provide patients an alternative to the emergency room while still receiving acute care. 

“Through Jeff’s leadership, Wilmington Health offers extended hours for primary care and specialty patients. Managing through Hurricane Florence, leaders and providers alike quickly pivoted to see patients during nontraditional hours and over weekends. This experience helped usher in a shift in perceptions throughout the practice to embrace and accept this change.” 

- Desirae Hrynko, marketing manager 


UNCW School of Nursing Faculty and Staff

What the nominator said: “The mission of the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) School of Nursing (SON) is to educate and empower nursing and clinical research professionals to advance the health of diverse individuals and communities, through excellence in teaching, practice, research and scholarly activity. 

“Innovation is a key component to realizing this mission. Using innovative approaches, faculty and staff in the UNCW SON [which is headed up by Linda Haddad, School of Nursing director, shown above] deliver quality healthcare education programs that prepare entry-level nurses, nurse educators, family nurse practitioners, nurse executives and leaders, psych-mental health nurses and clinical researchers for the Wilmington community, southeast coast and beyond. “Their innovative approaches include offering programs that are accessible to diverse populations of learners including those who are employed while enrolled in a nursing or clinical research program, using simulation and simulated patients, and offering applied learning internships where students gain real-life experience as a nurse or clinical researcher.” 

- Elizabeth (Beth) Gazza, associate director for faculty and staff development 


Read more about all of the 2020 Health Care Heroes finalists here.

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