Vidant Health’s mission to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina stretches beyond the walls of our hospitals and clinics here in the East.
With recent Community Health events across the 29 counties we serve, Vidant is delivering health care in unique ways. Recently, Vidant partnered with local leaders and community groups to host these events in Grantsboro in Pamlico County and Farmville in Pitt County.
Community members had the opportunity to get health screenings, receive health coaching, learn about providers and health care options near them and even receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Cheryl Willoughby, project coordinator for Systems & Procedures at Vidant, plays a key role in organizing these events. She said it is crucial to bring health care to the people of eastern North Carolina because of Vidant’s unique rural positioning.
“Access to health care is a huge issue for a lot of the people that we serve,” Willoughby said. “So when we do these community events, that barrier is easily broken when we meet people where they are. That’s the exciting piece for me.”
Pamlico County Health Event
Vidant hosted a Pamlico County Community Health event on Aug. 27 at Pamlico County Community College with great support from many local leaders and organizations. Pamlico County government, the Pamlico County Health Department and Pamlico County Community College all played a vital role in making the event possible.
Vidant Beaufort Hospital team members came out to the event to administer health screenings to community members, including body mass index measurements, blood pressure readings and blood sugar checks. Team members were also on hand to educate the community on colorectal cancer, diabetes and stroke.
Jennifer Lewis, community health improvement coordinator for Vidant Beaufort Hospital, said screenings and wellness checks events like these are crucial to making sure community members are staying on top of their health. She said that people will often go through everyday life feeling completely healthy while chronic illnesses like hypertension and diabetes go unchecked.
“We want to help identify some of those risk factors and maybe here we can share something with an individual that will get their attention,” Lewis said. “Hopefully we can get them in to see a physician and maybe make some changes in their diet, in their physical activity and if they need to get medication, that too.”
Dr. John Callahan from Vidant Family Medicine – Aurora was on hand to discuss any concerns with community members and to discuss COVID-19 vaccines with those interested. About 20 COVID-19 first doses were distributed to community members at the event.
The following weekend, Vidant team members and community groups showed up again to bring health care directly to the communities we serve at the Farmville Public Library. Many of the same screenings and opportunities available at the Pamlico County event were brought to Farmville as well.
KaSheta Jackson, nurse executive fellow at Vidant, said the community partnerships Vidant has built and are working to strengthen are key to creating trust with the whole community. She said having those trusting relationships with community groups trickles down to individuals within communities and ultimately leads to better health for everyone.
“We are making sure that we are connecting with the community,” Jackson said. “We are here with CAREE, which is a community group. They’re doing our vaccines with the Pitt County Health Department. The local library, they’ve offered up the space. Cheryl (Willoughby) worked with a lot of local agencies here so that they would support it. We work with a lot of communities here because we don’t want to just come in, we want to be a part of how we improve health care in these comminutes.”
Along with health screenings and awareness campaigns at the event, behavioral health team members were on hand to provide support and share information. Vidant’s Talent Acquisition team also joined each of the events to make connections with community members seeking employment with the health system.
Jackson said the Community Health events are important to bringing health care to people and hopes that positive responses and results continue to come out of these opportunities.
“We are following the model of doing health care on the outside to make health care better on the inside,” Jackson said. “We’re working to address the social determinants of health, offering employment, trying to take care of the need for vaccines, taking health care into communities versus having people come to us – we’re taking services to those that need them.”
Where will we be next?
Vidant’s next Community Health event will be on Aug. 21 in Bethel at the Field of Dreams – additional information can be found on the Events page of VidantHealth.com.
ECIPP Coordinator Ellen Walston said five children have already died in the United States this year from being left in a vehicle on warm days. Since 1998, when tracking began for these deaths, there have been 888 deaths across the country.
“Temperatures rise so quickly in a car and when a car is enclosed,” Walston said. “There is a myth that if you crack a window, the temperature will be reduced and that really does not happen. They heat up so quickly and we actually have a way to measure that today, just to show you how quickly cars can heat.”
This exercise took place on a 90-degree day. The temperature inside a parked car rose to 110 degrees within 10 minutes and over 120 degrees within 15 minutes.
Walston said while the risk is still high for seniors and pets, the majority of deaths that occur are in children under 2 years old. Children have less body surface area, so they are not able to cool themselves as quickly as adults and most of these children cannot verbalize if they are too hot.
In 53 percent of cases, a child is forgotten in the car by a parent or caregiver – often because that person is out of their daily routine. Walston said leaving a reminder for yourself can save a life.
“We always want to make sure that you have some type of reminder for yourself that the child is in the car because we do want the child to be in the rear seat,” Walston said. “If you can put your purse, a briefcase, your wallet, something in the backseat to remind you. We also have plenty of alarms on our phones and other devices that we use – just set an alarm. Particularly if it’s out of your normal routine.”
This reminder came at an important time as more people are out and traveling and running errands away from the house this year as COVID-19 restrictions are loosened and routines have changed.
Walston said now is the time to be vigilant if you are traveling with children, a senior adult or pets — or if you see one in a hot car.
“We always want a bystander to act and that means you need to take action right away,” Walston said. “So many times people are concerned about breaking a window, if they would be responsible. We ask you to take action, we ask that you immediately call 911. Please don’t wait to see if someone else will take action. We never want them left alone in a car – even for one minute.”
Greenville, N.C. – June 21, 2021 – Vidant Health, the Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program (ECIPP), Veteran’s Affairs (VA) and the Greenville Police Department (GPD) are proud to announce the formation of the Pitt County Firearm Safety Coalition (PCFSC), a non-partisan, apolitical group with the goal of reducing injuries and death from firearm violence through education and safe storage techniques.
PCFSC will partner with stakeholders representing various sectors in the community, including the VA, GPD, East Carolina University, health care providers, Child Protective Services, Pitt County Health Department, faith-based groups, wildlife and hunting organizations, gun manufacturers and schools to identify solutions and impactful interventions.
“Firearm injuries have increased at an alarming rate in our state and in our region in recent months,” said PCFSC member Dr. Shannon Longshore, who serves as medical director of Injury Prevention and Pediatric Trauma for ECIPP. “We know each injury and each life lost is devastating to our community. The Pitt County Firearm Safety Coalition works together to prevent firearm injuries with proven solutions such as safe handling and storage and by addressing issues we see locally.”
Firearms are among the top five leading causes of injury-related deaths and account for half of all suicides, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Safe storage of firearms decreases the risk of accidental discharge by a child. Additionally, evidence suggests those living in households where firearms are stored and locked have a lower risk of suicide than those where firearms are stored unlocked.
“Increasing the time and distance between someone with suicidal intent and firearms can reduce suicide risk,” said PCFSC member Tiffany Chavis, senior social worker, suicide prevention coordinator, Durham VA Health Care System. “Providing education and resources to keep firearms safely secured, especially during mental health crises, is crucial in reducing the number of suicides. The Pitt County Firearm Safety Coalition demonstrates how well partners can work together for shared purpose, even if the populations differ.”
PCFSC has launched a firearm safety awareness campaign: “Lock It For Love – Firearm Safety is OUR Responsibility” to encourage the safe storage of firearms in order to reduce the number of firearm injuries in the region. GPD recently partnered with Project ChildSafe to get free gun locks, which will be distributed to local firearms owners/families.
“As police officers we often encounter people during some of the worst times of their lives, but our jobs take on an entirely new meaning when a child loses their life, especially to unnecessary gun violence,” said Chief Mark Holtzman of GPD. “The Greenville Police Department is humbled to be a partner in the Pitt County Firearm Safety Coalition to raise awareness for this very important cause. There is strength in numbers, and the safety and well-being of the members of our community is truly a collaborative effort. Together, we hope to make a difference and save lives.”
Vidant Health is aware scammers are calling community members in an attempt to solicit Medicare or financial information. This is a common practice used by scammers nationally and is not the result of a data breach. If a community member receives a suspicious call from a Vidant number, or from someone who says they are from Medicare, they should hang up. Individuals should communicate directly with their provider regarding their medical equipment and service needs. Vidant encourages community members to be careful when giving financial, medical or personal information over the phone.
“The school nurses have been instrumental in getting their school staff trained and prepared for the use of Stop the Bleed kits,” Erika Greene, pediatric trauma program manager for Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center, said. “We have expanded our outreach to Wayne County Schools while working towards our goal of providing education and placement of Stop the Bleed kits at each public school within the 29-county Vidant Health region.”
One of the most common contributing factors in trauma-related events is preventable blood loss. Approximately 40 percent of trauma-related deaths worldwide can be attributed to bleeding or its consequence. The items in these kits help control the loss of blood, leading to positive outcomes for those who sustain injuries.
The Stop the Bleed Kits are funded by Children’s Miracle Network along with training in the use of a combat tourniquet provided by Maynard Children’s Hospital. They were distributed to Wayne County Schools with education to ensure schools are prepared in the event of a trauma incident.
The Pediatric Trauma Department of Maynard Children’s Hospital distributed 66 kits to cover the 33 public schools in Wayne County with the assistance of the VMC Trauma Outreach Coordinator.
“Vidant Health provided an awesome comprehensive Stop the Bleed training for the school nurses of Wayne County Public Schools,” said Kim Kennedy, manager of School Health Services for Wayne County Schools. “Thanks to Stop the Bleed and The Children’s Miracle Network, all WCPS campuses will be equipped with tourniquet kits that can be utilized in the event someone suffers severe bleeding. We thank Vidant Health and The Children’s Miracle Network for sponsoring this vitally important project.”
Vidant encourages all community members age 15 and older to complete the CHNA survey and provide meaningful feedback on how Vidant can continue to improve health and well-being in eastern North Carolina. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete and all responses are confidential. Your feedback helps ensure health care needs are met in the 29 counties Vidant serves. The survey is open through June 18.
The full CHNA process involves collection and analysis of a large range of data, including demographic, socioeconomic and health statistics, and most importantly, feedback from community members. The completed CHNA analysis and results serve as the basis for prioritizing methods to meet the community’s health needs in order to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.