Health Care

Health Care Heroes: Community Outreach

By Staff Reports, posted Oct 15, 2021

Honors an individual or team who communicated to the community about a health issue, including treatments and best practices, health threats and other education initiatives.

Editor’s note: Above is the description every year for the Community Outreach category. In the second year now of a global pandemic and national vaccine rollout, the Health Care Heroes judges decided to use this category a little differently this time. The Community Outreach category this year recognizes the large teams of area health providers and professionals who have responded throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in helping to protect and treat the community.


What the nominator said: “When New Hanover County Health and Human Services was faced with the daunting challenge of delivering COVID-19 vaccines to our community, they committed to achieving this with unmatched dedication and perseverance. … Health and Human Services (HHS) engaged the county’s newly formed Office of Diversity and Equity along with HHS’ dedicated staff who had many connections into Historically Marginalized Populations (HMPs). They reached out across our county to pastors, lay-leaders, ethnic associations, neighborhoods, community centers, businesses, free health care clinics and many more. When only hospitals and local health departments were receiving vaccine supply, HHS partnered with large local health care organizations to assure no dose of vaccine sat on shelves. They immediately shared thousands of doses with local medical providers with capacity to administer doses to our community for the fastest and greatest positive impact possible. They simultaneously redistributed doses to small organizations (local free clinics) who had a unique ability to reach some of the most vulnerable of our citizens. … HHS stood up and operated three large-volume vaccination sites. HHS conducted vaccination clinics at several churches in the area with majority HMP congregations. They partnered with LatinX organizations to find locations to operate that felt safe for this group. They connected with the local MLK Center to provide easy access to a large historically African American community. They served homebound persons in their homes in partnership with the Senior Resource Center and the county and city firefighters, who also conducted fire safety and smoke detector checks while in homes. As a result of the coordination among community health providers, New Hanover County has one of the top percentages of population that are fully or partially vaccinated.”
- Donna Fayko, NHC Health & Human Services director

Team leaders include: Tufanna Bradley, Donna Fayko, David Howard, Carla Turner, Regina James-Boston, Mary Beth Rubright, Diana Vetter-Craft, Stephanie Limoges, Gwendolyn Williams, Esther Watson-Hall, Bonita Wright, Kelley Davis, Susan Brown, Panza McNeil, Nikki Todd, Jill Morris, Karey Smythe, Anne Wrenn, Jeff Suggs, Christy Thompson, Chris Dwy, Alice Moore, Kathi Spivey, Laura Ankrah, Chiquita Gooding-Register, John Davis, Cory Hugus, Kristen Goodwin


What the nominator said: “I have had the privilege of working with many health care heroes during my time on staff at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, and I have submitted nominations on occasion in the past. However, I have never seen a more deserving recipient or an easier letter to write than this one. I write in support of the NHNHRMC COVID management team/task force. … This team has met daily since the beginning of the pandemic to manage NHRMC’s institutional, local and regional response to the virus. I have been privileged to be a part of the weekly phone calls that this group participates in, and, every week, I am in awe of the amount of work that has been required of this group – all of whom have other full-time jobs at NHRMC as administrators or physicians. This is the group that, while facilitating the treatment of more than 7,000 COVID inpatients, also instituted and managed a testing program that has tested more than 55,000 local residents for COVID, sometimes even driving the samples to Raleigh to expedite the results [figures from early September nomination]. In addition, the NHRMC vaccination program, utilizing a local vacant movie theater to provide more than 100,000 local residents with vaccines, received national news coverage for this innovative approach. In addition, this group managed to vaccinate the entire NHRMC community of physicians, nurses and other health workers in just two weeks last December, even offering vaccine clinic appointments during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! In short, it is not hyperbole to call this group heroes and lifesavers. Wherever you are when you are reading this, be it at home, in your office, or elsewhere, look around you. I am certain that someone within your sight is alive today because of the heroic work this group has done.”
- Frederick James “Trip” Meine III, Cape Fear Heart Associates physician

Team includes: Laurie M Whalin, Dan Goodwin, West Paul, Jeffery L Warhaftig, Gabriele Pike, Ashley Helfer, Suzie McCabe, Claire Corbett, Mike Melroy, Jerry Burleson, Christy Spivey, Olivia Herndon, Clyde L Harris, Joanne Campbell, Rebecca Whiteside


What the nominator said: “The public health nurses who work in the New Hanover County schools are a phenomenal group of professionals tasked with meeting the routine health care needs of our medically fragile students, dispensing medications and assisting with injuries. … ‘School Nurses: Provide direct care for acute and emergent needs; provide case management for chronic needs; advocate for students and their families to help get the resources and support they need; assist those not served by the healthcare system find a medical home,’ [according to the] NHCS website. However, throughout the pandemic these professionals have also been called upon to help vaccinate the general public at community clinics as well as provide constant guidance to school stakeholders. The frequent, sometimes daily, changes to the NC Strong Schools Toolkit put these professionals in the incredibly difficult position of having to communicate those changing policies directly to staff and parents of students affected by COVID-19. … Facing a significant staffing shortage during the most extraordinary public health crisis in their careers to date, these nurses have consistently sacrificed their own time and energy for the sake of our most vulnerable citizens – our children. ‘Spread thin’ does not adequately express the workload they have had to bear. In addition to long hours of contact tracing – often working overtime with no compensation – they have had to meet these demanding challenges in not just one school, but two or sometimes more. They have done so with a truly inspirational commitment to the health care of our entire community and deserve to be profoundly honored for their dedication.”
- Diane Snow, teacher

Supervisors: Susan Brown MSN RN NCSN & Karey Smythe BSN RN NCSN
Team Leaders: Kelly Johnson, Julie Kornegay, Tracy Wooten, Temple Beardshaw, Jessica Fell, Terri Wilkes
Team members:  Christine Babson, Beckey Frederick, Anita Masterson, Laura O'Leary, Tina Reaves, Allison Coleman, Tammy Dilling, Owen Howell, Gretchen Willis, Valerie Mustamaa, Kim Stocklasa, Teresa Dawson, Jocelyn Graham, Ashley Keir, Rachelle Mooney, Kaitlyn Pate, Sue Sullivan, Nicole Cullen, Wendy Crandall, Carolyn Davis, Tammy Frieberg, Nicole Zuber, Jeffery Jude, Nicole Carey, Ashley DeMuria, Felicia Myott, Angela Stello, Emily Wooldrige, Jenn Wright, Laurie Parkes, Stephanie Mathous, Karen Zuege, Candace Caporaletti, Melissa Washington


What the nominator said: “Wilmington Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Team dedicated and sacrificed for our community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and they were constantly striving for ways to innovatively reach our entire community in providing them the vaccine. One effort that WH’s Vaccine Team completed was developing vaccine clinics at local nonprofits so that our underserved communities would have convenient access to the vaccine. Wilmington Health also held a large vaccine clinic in our community in partnership with the Wilmington Convention Center and the City of Wilmington. The clinic provided access to anyone in our community to the vaccine in what the community referenced was a supremely organized, professional, safe and efficient process. This clinic also provided access to the second dose of the vaccine in a timely manner, ensuring that our community members were fully vaccinated, which now has provided protection from the … delta variant. Wilmington Health’s Vaccine Team volunteered time in addition to their daily work schedules to ensure our community was vaccinated and protected, and it was truly appreciated by our community.”
- Desirae Hrynko, Wilmington Health marketing manager

Note from Wilmington Health: Wilmington Health has nearly 1,000 providers and employees that operate together as one. Each person on our team was impacted by and contributed in some way to the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. Clinical and non-clinical team members are all a valuable part of the system that provided and continues to provide vaccines to all patients in the area that we serve.

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

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