Barbara Woodland, Terry King and Richard Lucht earned the Governor’s Award for 2020. They each volunteer at VMC in a number of capacities and have adapted to changes in volunteering throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former Vidant team member, current volunteer
For Barbra Woodland, that meant a move to the department from which she retired.
“I feel especially privileged that my former supervisor here at the hospital had her secretary call me and ask if I would come and help with screening at the rehab center,” Woodland said. “When I can help, I’ve always been a team player so that works for me.”
Woodland began working for Vidant Health in December of 2005 and retired 10 years later as the Rehabilitation Residency program coordinator. She said she isn’t the kind of person who could sit at home after retiring, so she needed to get involved in something.
She’d had experience volunteering before and decided to get involved at VMC.
“Many people think you just volunteer when you retire,” Woodland said, “but I used to live around the corner from a neighborhood church in the inner city so I have a lot of good experiences, I would say. Experiences about meeting different people and treating people with respect and courtesy. Just because they’re in need of something, not feeling that great or have medical problems, we need to help them.”
Woodland said the recognition for her means that someone appreciates what she is doing for her community.
Retired minister and stroke survivor gives back
Terry King is familiar with this recognition as he received the award in 2014 as well. King, who was a minister in his working years, suffered a stroke in 2009 and stopped working full-time. With encouragement from his wife, a nurse at VMC, and his father, King decided to step into volunteering as a new way of continuing to serve others.
“I came in here as green as grass and said, ‘here I am, I want to serve’ and I have never looked back,” King said.
King said his interactions with patients, families and Vidant team members keep him coming back. He recalled times helping family members of patients who don’t speak English and helping patients navigate the hospital. He said the smiles on the faces of those he can help are better than any payment he could receive for the work.
He believes his time as a minister has prepared him for this chapter of his life and helps him in his interactions with patients and families.
“It’s helped me because I understand the human experience. You just take people from where they are, and you don’t try to change them – just try to work with them and help them see the benefit of changes,” King said. “I’ve worked with people who are very upset and frustrated and being able to diffuse that situation just by listening and talking normally and paying attention and being caring, that’s life.”
King also said that he enjoys feeling like a part of the Vidant team as a volunteer and the teams at VMC have made him feel welcomed and appreciated.
New accolades for former Volunteer of the Year
Richard Lucht was named Volunteer of the Year two years ago and received the state recognition for the first time this past year.
After retiring from East Carolina University, where he taught piano in the School of Music, he mentioned a desire to get involved in volunteering to a friend who suggested VMC. Six years later, he said he knows how important volunteering has been for him.
“I keep reinventing myself and I think one has to do that to find meaning in their life,” Lucht said. “A lot of people get very depressed about retirement but I found it a very exciting time. That’s all part of that – it helps keep me vital and it’s a very positive part of my retirement life. That just adds to the aspect of my being.”
Lucht said his family has been service-oriented for a long time and recognized his mother and brother for being influential in that space. He also said he has several nieces who are physician’s assistants and doctors.
As a retired professor, he said it is very exciting to him to be around a teaching hospital where many medical students are learning their craft – one of the many rewards for volunteering at his local hospital.
“Getting involved and meeting the diverse population we serve out there is very rewarding to me – the patients and also the bright, young college students that are working in some aspect of the medical field,” Lucht said. “It’s meeting people and giving back to a community that has been very kind to me and my family here.”
Vidant is proud of the volunteers that help us serve a region. The selflessness and passion these volunteers and so many others show each day is an inspiration and an important part of Vidant’s mission to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.
On April 7, Vidant Medical Center (VMC) hosted its Donate Life event, Pause to Give Life, to recognize organ donors and their families. Vidant team members, including the donor resource team and transplant team, were among those in attendance.
During the ceremony, the Donate Life flag was raised on the VMC flagpole at 10:08 a.m., a time symbolic of the ratio of one donor being able to save up to eight lives. Following the raising of the flag, a 30-second moment of silence was observed to honor donors and their families and recognize the more than 3,000 patients waiting for a life-saving transplant in North Carolina.
“It was a record year for organ donors at Vidant. We had 55 donors in 2020 that resulted in saving or enhancing 179 lives by those donations,” said Van Smith, VMC executive vice president of operations. “This is a celebration of the work of Vidant and Carolina Donor Services in partnership to support the community and improve the quality of life across eastern North Carolina.”
Carolina Donor Services President and CEO Danielle Niedfeldt recognized VMC for the record year of organ donations with an Outstanding Service Award during the event. Niedfeldt said in addition to a record year for transplantations at VMC, the hospital performed at a remarkable level in its own right and as compared to others within the Carolina Donor Services area.
Among the speakers at the event was Gerri Ashe, a community health worker at Vidant Health. She shared her story as a family donor – or someone whose loved ones have donated organs after they have passed.
Ashe began working at Vidant in February of 2008. In November of that same year, her oldest brother passed away from a stroke at just 43 years old. She recalled that when she was getting her license her dad told her to sign up as an organ donor and her siblings did the same. After his passing, they learned he would be able to donate three organs – his heart and his corneas.
“At that time, I decided to turn what seemed to be a really difficult situation into a positive moment of being able to share my story,” Ashe said. “It also made me want to get more involved and become more educated so I could help families understand the process.”
Ashe said she completed her studies in health education and promotion this past February.
As a community health worker, Ashe has many responsibilities in educating eastern North Carolina and connecting people to services or resources that they need to be healthy.
She said she also tries to raise awareness for the need of organ donation and stresses the importance of healthy living for anyone who may be interested in being an organ donor.
“No matter what decision a family makes, if I can just help them during that time – even as difficult as it is – I know I’ve done my job as a family donor,” Ashe said. “That’s how I honor my brother’s memory is by spreading the word and helping others realize how important it is to donate.”
Vidant Health is grateful for the countless contributions of all team members during this unprecedented time. It is with great pride that we announce Dr. Ogugua Ndili Obi, pulmonary and critical care physician at Vidant Medical Center and ECU Brody School Medicine assistant professor, was awarded the prestigious Dogwood Award from North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein for her contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Dogwood Awards are given annually to honor North Carolinians who are dedicated to keeping people safe, healthy, and happy in their communities.
“Dr. Obi and her team have risked their own personal safety to bravely care for COVID-19 patients,” said Stein. “It is my honor to recognize Dr. Obi and all the medical professionals on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Every North Carolinian owes a debt of gratitude to the health care professionals who are responding to this crisis.”
Dr. Obi’s award is a recognition of all health care heroes who have selflessly cared for their community. Vidant team members – both clinical and non-clinical – have never wavered in their commitment to meet our mission to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.
“I would like to accept this award on behalf of all the physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, care partners and everyone who takes care of COVID-19 patients both here at Vidant Medical Center and across North Carolina,” Dr. Obi said. “This award is dedicated to all of the team members at Vidant, especially in the Medical Intensive Care Unit. Every single one of them has made incredible personal sacrifices and stepped up in a truly amazing way to take care of patients with COVID-19. I am truly humbled and honored to receive this award, and to work with Vidant care teams.”
Please join us in thanking Dr. Obi and all health care heroes.
Since 1989, The Great 100 Gala has recognized and honored nurses in North Carolina for their commitment to excellence and to promote a positive image of the nursing profession. Out of the thousands of nominations, the selection committee chooses 100 nurses to honor as the best of the best in the state.Read more »