Health Care

Health Care Heroes: Health Care Executive

By Staff Reports, posted Oct 20, 2023

Honors an individual whose job performance is considered exemplary by people within their organizations, peers and community members.


Title: Senior Director

Organization: Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute

What a nominator said: “Dora began her Wilmington health care career managing a 6 physician cardiology practice, Wilmington Cardiology, almost twenty years ago. As that practice grew and eventually joined the hospital, Dora grew with it. The practice she helped begin – which has since become Novant Heart & Vascular-Cardiology – now includes 60 providers, 6 locations and serves more than 1,000 new cardiac patients each month. Dora has grown professionally as the practice has expanded. From manager of our practice, she progressed to administrator, then director of the entire outpatient cardiology program. While working, she furthered her education, and earned her bachelor’s degree, thereafter returning to school in her ‘spare’ time to earn her MBA in just 1 year. Her tireless advocacy for our community’s health and well-being has been recognized by Novant New Hanover Regional Medical Center who recently elevated her to her new role as senior director of the Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute. …”

– Frederick James Meine III, MD, Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute-Cardiology


Title: Director of Information Technology 

Organization: Wilmington Health

What a nominator said: “Drew Haygood keeps the digital wheels turning at Wilmington Health. His leadership over our IT infrastructure has transformed our organization into a modern, innovative, and nimble healthcare system. Sure, Drew leads a team, makes sure our IT is top notch and secure, but he also does a lot more. During a hurricane, or any possibility of power loss, Drew would leave his family and sleep in our data center to be at-the-ready to keep us online as long as possible or get us back online quickly. Because of this sacrifice, we can be equipped to access patient information in our EHR quicker than many providers. After Hurricane Florence, Drew made it his personal mission to completely change our system to protect us in the line of hurricanes.

“In 2021, Drew led the team that moved the primary Data Center to a remote location inland to improve the system and mitigate possible damage and power outages. Since this move, he has proven a true Hero as we’ve lost power but can still access patient charts online. …”

– Alexis Hunter, community liaison, Wilmington Health


Title: President and CEO

Organization: Lower Cape Fear LifeCare

What a nominator said: “Gwen Whitley has spent over 35 years in healthcare in the greater Wilmington area, moving through the nursing ranks and eventually becoming President and CEO of Lower Cape Fear LifeCare (LCFL) in 2016.  As one of only three executives in the history of the organization, Gwen can, and should, be credited with much of the organization’s tremendous success, especially recently. It is largely because of her vision, her leadership and her passion for helping people, that LCFL has become the gold standard for hospice and palliative care agencies.” 

In addition to overseeing agency accomplishments, “Gwen Whitley’s healthcare impact and eventual legacy will be so much more than just what she has accomplished in the fields of hospice and palliative care. … A caregiver for someone living with cognitive decline herself, Gwen has been instrumental in helping LCFL create and implement Memory Partners, a consultative program that provides free assessments, information, education and resources to families also on the dementia journey.”

– Eric Walker, vice president of sales, marketing and community engagement, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare

Read more about all of the 2023 Health Care Heroes finalists here.

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