Medical professionals at Vidant Health say lung cancer is the second most common cancer across the U.S. and the leading cause of cancer death. On average, about 13 people in North Carolina die from lung cancer every day. Doctors say one of the best steps you can take to protect yourself is to know your risks.
Smokers are at high risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer, but it’s not uncommon for non-smokers to be diagnosed, too. Experts say secondhand smoke and gas in your home can also play a factor. Doctors say it’s important to get tested for radon in your home because that is the second leading cause of lung cancer, especially in non-smokers.
Researchers estimate secondhand smoke contributes to about 7,300 cancer diagnoses and radon to about 2,900.
Other substances that could increase your exposure to cancer include asbestos, arsenic, nickel and chromium.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task force recommends yearly lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scan for people who have a history of heavy smoking (at least a 30 pack year smoking history-packs per day times number of years smoked), smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years and are between 55-80 years old.
If you believe you may be at risk or meet the requirements, talk to your primary care provider about getting a screening. For more information or if you do not have a primary care provider, call the Prevention Clinic at Vidant Cancer Care at (252) 816-7475.
The Greenville COVID-19 Drive-up Testing Site will be open, Saturday, Dec. 5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
COVID-19 testing is covered through the CARES Act and currently there are no out-of-pocket costs to the public. Insurance is not needed for a COVID-19 test at the Greenville site, however, health care organizations must collect and submit insurance information for patients that have it, per the CARES Act.
The Greenville COVID-19 Drive-up Testing Site is at the corner of Stantonsburg Road and Wellness Center Drive.
As Vidant Health continues to respond to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic across North Carolina, we are taking steps to ensure the safety of all. Vidant remains vigilant with its screening process for all visitors, entry requirements and visitor restrictions by department.
In anticipation of increased community spread across the country and here in eastern North Carolina throughout the holiday season, Vidant is proactively adjusting its visitation restrictions at Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital.
These new restriction are effective 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 27 at Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital.
As people plan their holiday season, Vidant encourages all community members to celebrate safely. Before you plan a traditional holiday gathering, consider setting up a virtual celebration with apps like Zoom or Google Meet instead to ensure the safety of those you love.
If you do plan to attend an in-person gathering, consider setting it up outside. Additionally, be sure to keep these holiday safety tips in mind: limit the number of people at gatherings, avoid out of town travel and practice the 3 Ws: wear a mask, wash hands often, wait 6 feet apart from others.
This is an evolving situation and Vidant continues to monitor the spread and examine local data, including COVID-19 cases in our region and in hospitals, and will adjust visitation restrictions accordingly.
Vidant still recommends and supports virtual connectivity to help loved ones safely interact with patients, especially in facilities where patients are at an increased risk for complications such as long-term nursing facilities.
Washington, and eastern North Carolina in general, is a small, tight-knit community. Something that affects one of us, affects us all. The outpouring of support that my family received when my dad passed away on Aug. 12 due to complications from COVID-19 only confirmed this.
This holiday season, our family is one person smaller. I want to take this moment to share our family’s experience with COVID-19 in the hopes that those in our community consider taking added precautions to make their holiday gatherings as safe as possible.
Dad’s personal experience with COVID-19 taught us a lot about the dangers of this virus. Early on, our family took some steps to protect ourselves, like wearing masks at community events and staying at home more than usual. We were following safety guidelines, but we weren’t doing things perfectly.
Everything hit home when our family was directly affected. In total, we had six family members who caught COVID-19, including my children and myself. It was different for all of us and some barely had any symptoms at all. My dad got the worst of it, though, and it was not long before he was at Vidant Beaufort Hospital and later Vidant Medical Center to get intubated and receive treatment.
The care team that treated my dad at both Vidant Beaufort and VMC were amazing. They patiently answered our questions, helped us understand potential treatments and kept us in the loop on his status. In the end, the virus took its toll and my dad passed away.
Make no mistake, this virus is real and it does not care about who it infects. I encourage everyone, especially my fellow Washington community members, to take extra precautions this holiday season: wear a mask, social distance and practice the safety measures that can help us care for each other.
Dad always encouraged us to get outside of our comfort zones and penning this letter is not easy. In life, my dad was a community servant committed to doing what was right. In death, that spirit continues to live on. If he was still here with us, he would want us all to work together, wear a mask, social distance and take care of each other because our community depends on it.
Sara Hodges Bell is the daughter of the late Washington, N.C., mayor, Mac Hodges.
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.
“I enjoy being outside, a lot,” said Paul Johnson, a transport RN with Vidant EastCare.
It’s one the perks for Johnson.
“I am not found of heights, I don’t like flying but it was worth it,” Johnson said.
The Bertie County native is no stranger to doing what it takes to get the job done.
“It looks pretty ridiculous, the moustache does,” Johnson said, “but that’s kind of what I’m going for, too. A little bit of fun.”
A little bit of fun – and a look that’s a lot different these days.
“Full beard – I tried to keep it somewhat trimmed but maybe not much – it was pretty scraggly,” Johnson said. “I enjoyed it. I quit shaving the day I got out of the Army and didn’t have to shave any more.”
That was 11 years ago – until COVID-19 and the need for all health care workers to wear a mask and other protective equipment.
“Saw the cases pick up in the state, certainly across the country and it was like, ‘Well, if I haven’t transported one of these patients it’s just going to be a matter of time,’” Johnson said.
So the beard had to go, to help ensure the proper fit of the masks necessary to help keep Paul, his colleagues and the patients they transport safe.
“The N-95 seals around the perimeter, the bridge of your nose and around here,” Johnson said.
Going facial hair free for ENC was easier said than done for communications specialist Jack Moye.
“You trim it, and you make sure it looks just right and you pet it – but yeah, it’s hard,” Moye said. “When you’re looking in the mirror and you’re about to make that first cut, it’s very difficult to do.”
Luckily Paul and Jack are in good company. EMTs, pilots, paramedics, at least one person in every EastCare role has done the same. It’s a show of solidarity and a commitment to one another and the patients Vidant serves.
“If we start getting sick, there’s not going to be anybody to bring these patients into the hospital,” Johnson said. “If nurses in the hospital start getting sick, there’s not going to be anybody to take care of those patients – we need to at least stay healthy as long as we can.”
The team mentioned they appreciate all of the community support being shown to health care workers on the front lines. As they go facial hair free for ENC, they encourage everyone to do their part, by social distancing and staying home to stop the spread.
Vidant EastCare travels more than 900,000 miles a year – and handles more than 10,000 patient transports by air and ground combined.
“The virus is still present in our community and it is spreading, at a faster rate than before,” Brian Floyd, president of Vidant Medical Center said.
Which is why staying ahead of increasing cases of COVID-19 is so important.
“At the outset of our awareness of COVID-19, the teams at Vidant Health came together and said, ‘what will be necessary to prevent its spread in the East?’ And one of the key objectives would be to find it, find it fast and know where it is so we can minimize it,” Floyd said.
Enter rapid testing and the ability to screen for COVID-19 across the region.
“We have a large-scale testing capability, so if there is a concern we want our public to seek out testing so that we can help make sure that we find, and minimize the spread of this virus in our region,” Floyd said.
Because the faster it’s found, the faster it can be dealt with.
“That’s what Vidant has been building,” Floyd said. “Thousands of tests can be done a day and returned within 24 hours because of the investments we made in building up this capability very early in the COVID-19 battle.”
In addition to rapid testing, Vidant is the only health system to partner with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on their community testing initiative.
Having testing centers in place across the East is an important part of facing the pandemic heat-on. But it’s not a battle that can be won by hospitals and health systems alone.
“So it’s really important that we wash our hands frequently, we socially distance, and that we wear masks when around other people to help prevent the spread,” Floyd said.
Our capacity to test, not only for COVID, but other viruses such as the flu, is instrumental in keeping our communities safe, improving our economy and mitigating the risks we face as we plan for the future. Having the capacity to broadly and frequently test protects those we love.
To build a community response, we needed to know how prevalent the virus was in the region and to achieve this we had to increase testing capacities. We collaborated with East Carolina University, Thermo Fisher Scientific, GenMark Diagnostics, The Blood Connection, the Mayo Clinic and others to help build accurate, dependable testing tools needed to care for the 1.4 million people in our region.
Testing for COVID-19 comes in different shapes and sizes. A local company, Thermo Fisher was instrumental in helping us build the backbone of our large-scale testing capacity at nearly 5,000 tests a day. With their technology, we are able to test a large number of patients and get those that tested positive the care they needed. This ability is one reason Vidant was selected by the state of North Carolina to help with testing in historically underserved communities.
Chronic conditions did not disappear when COVID-19 arrived. Health events like strokes, heart attacks, diabetic episodes were still affecting those we love. GenMark Diagnostics, a company that develops state-of-the-art testing systems, helped us implement molecular testing capabilities for all Vidant hospitals. This helps quickly test those needing emergency care. In the fall, it will just as quickly help us identify patients that have potentially serious respiratory pathogens such as the flu, RSV, pneumonia, or COVID-19 with a single test.
COVID-19 serological antibody testing is a phrase we will all hear more about moving forward. This testing helps identify people who have had the virus in the past by looking for antibodies, which are left behind once a patient recovers. These antibodies are important in helping the health care community learn more about the virus and create vaccines and treatments, which will make a global difference.
Our partners at The Blood Connection, the primary supplier of blood products for Vidant, also offers serological testing and accepts blood donations to help gather these antibodies and provide them to our lab. At Vidant, we collaborated with ECU and The Mayo Clinic in Clinical Trials to analyze these antibodies and put this knowledge to use.
Testing is the foundation of our community response. Our ability to test is already helping us protect organizations and local businesses as they implement their strategies for safe openings. This in turn will help support our economy. The amazing collaboration between Vidant and all of our partners provides us with dependable testing we need to make a difference in the region we proudly serve.
Michael Waldrum, MD, is chief executive officer of Vidant Health.
As COVID-19 cases continue to escalate across the country it has become painfully obvious that our loved ones with chronic conditions, especially in older populations, are particularly vulnerable to this virus. Cases continue to increase in the state, in our region and here in our local community. The risk is the highest it has ever been and the virus is spreading. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, we must continue to prioritize and protect the most vulnerable among us.
Wearing a mask in public is an important step in helping control the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our loved ones. We have all worked together in recent weeks to keep the curve flat by practicing social distancing, washing hands and avoiding large crowds. Now that our economy is reopening and we are seeing an increase in spread, we must continue to practice these safety measures and make them a priority. Masks are especially important when social distancing is not possible, when entering or exiting businesses and for employees who interact with customers. Masking allows us to open local businesses safely.
Masking and screening also has allowed Vidant to safely accommodate one healthy adult visitor in certain areas within hospitals and clinics for patients requiring support. Our expanded visitor restriction exceptions, which went into effect Friday at VMC and go into effet Tuesday at all other Vidant hospitals and clinics, are a result of our ability create a safe environment. We require masking for everyone in Vidant facilities and it has proven to be effective in preventing transmission.
Limiting visitation is one example of how this virus has upended our lives. It has been a very difficult and emotional concern and our ability to expand restrictions exceptions is directly linked to the ability to keep the spread from escalating.
These are unprecedented times and eastern North Carolina is resilient. Our success at keeping COVID-19 from spreading is dependent on our commitment to continue working together and taking simple steps to protect ourselves, our loved ones and the communities we care about.
Thank you for continuing to stand up for eastern North Carolina.
Brian Floyd, RN, MBA, is president of Vidant Medical Center. Learn how to make a cloth mask, how to take care of if and wear it properly at vidanthealth.com/covidresources. For information on visitor restrictions, visit vidanthealth.com/alerts.