Health Care

Health Care Heroes To Take Center Stage

By Staff Reports, posted Oct 20, 2023
This year, the Greater Wilmington Business Journal’s Health Care Heroes Awards moves to the big stage. On Oct. 27 the health care providers, innovators and volunteers you’ll read about on the following pages take the spotlight. 

Finalists for this year’s awards will be honored at the awards event, taking place at Cape Fear Community College’s Wilson Center. Winners will be announced, and a special lifetime achievement honor will be bestowed.

They are this year’s Health Care Heroes, nominated by patients, peers, co-workers and families.

The Business Journal has put on the Health Care Heroes awards program since 2013 to honor the people and organizations making an impact on the quality of health care in the region.

Included in this year’s awards special section are the finalists in eight categories: Community Achievement, Health Care Executive, Innovation in Health Care, PA/NP, Nurse, Physician, Volunteer and the Unsung Hero category, recognizing anyone who works in health care but not necessarily fitting the other traditional award descriptions.

A panel of judges had the task of wading through stacks of nominations and focused on some fundamental questions for the nominees. Do they go above and beyond in their daily work? Have they contributed an idea or formed an organization that impacts the community? Are they heroic – whether in big, life saving ways or quiet, everyday ways?

In many cases, the standouts were clear. In others, the choices were tough.
But on the following pages, you can read more about the health care providers, administrators and community volunteers in their nominators’ own words.

Also on Oct. 27, cardiologist Rob Harper will be honored as the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement award (read more about Harper’s work here).

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners of this year’s Health Care Heroes Awards.

-Vicky Janowski, editor
Greater Wilmington Business Journal
[email protected]

About the Judging

Each year, the Business Journal opens up the nomination process to the community for the Health Care Heroes Awards. 

Our outside judging panel combs through the nominations and applications to pick the finalists and winners in each of the categories as well as the Lifetime Achievement honor. 

Judges who know or work with the nominees disclosed any potential conflicts. In the cases in which judges were nominated in a category, they were recused from the deliberation process.

The Judges

Victoria Bellamy, Novant Health 

Matt Chadwick, Well Care Health 

Danielle Clark, PNC Bank 

Missy Combs, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare 

Johnsie Davis, Novant Health 

Barrett Earney, Earney IT 

Liz Hait, Atrómitos

Jim Hundley, Retired Physician 

Alexis Hunter, Wilmington Health 

Elaine Loyack, Delta Dental 

Michael Pawlikowski, TeamLogic IT 

William Smith, New Hanover-Pender County Medical Society 

Zanika Stokley, Helping Hands of the Cape Fear 

Jack Watson, UNCW College of Health & Human Services

Meet the 2023 Health Care Heroes finalists: 

Lifetime Achievement: 
  • James "Rob" Robinson Harper, Cardiologist, Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute
Community Achievement: 
  • Buffy Andrews, CEO + Wellness Buff, The Made Well Center for Wholeness
  • Jason Clamme, Director of Community Engagement, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare
  • Nin Patel, Pharmacy Technician, Dosher Memorial Hospital
Health Care Executive: 
  • Dora Daughhetee, Senior Director, Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute
  • Drew Haygood, Director of Information Technology, Wilmington Health
  • Gwen Whitley, President and CEO, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare
  • Greg Bannon, Medical Director, Optimal Bio
  • Suprena Hickman, RN, Nurse Educator and Founder, Sankofa Training and Wellness Institute
  • Brittany Melinger, Clinical Pharmacist, Novant Health NHRMC Specialty Pharmacy
Unsung Hero: 
  • Joe Hill, Food Services Director, Dosher Memorial Hospital
  • Joshua Jones, Clinical Pharmacist Practitioner, Novant Health NHRMC & Novant Health Primary Care Clinics
  • Tammy Scott, Managed Care Coordinator, Wilmington Health
  • Jessica Lancaster, Physician Assistant, Wilmington Health Interventional Pain & Regenerative Medicine 
  • Aiereal Lloyd, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practioner and Certified Perinatal Mental Health Practictioner 
  • Bridgette Williams, Nurse Practitioner, Novant Health Heart & Vascular Institute
  • Emily Cruickshank, Registered Nurse, Novant Health NHRMC
  • Erin Murray, Registered Nurse, Well Care Health
  • Nancy Russell, Registered Nurse, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare
  • Umar Bowers, Medical Director, Dawson Med Primary Care & Urgent Care
  • Catherine Daum, Physician, Wilmington Health
  • Jugta Kahai, Pediatric Medical Director, Columbus Regional Healthcare System
  • Terry Blackburn, Veterans Hospice Volunteer, Amedisys Hospice
  • Dot Grime, Volunteer, Novant Health NHRMC
  • Dave Pearce, Volunteer, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare
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