This is a significant moment in the history of Vidant and Brody, which could not have been possible without the extraordinary foundation built by Vidant and ECU’s visionary predecessors. The Brody School of Medicine and Vidant have a shared desire to enhance, grow and sustain access to high-quality health care to rural communities across eastern North Carolina today, tomorrow and for generations in the future – and this closer alignment reaffirms a joint commitment to build a premier academic health care enterprise for eastern North Carolina.
This strategic partnership is an important step toward the collective goal of clinically integrating Vidant and the Brody School of Medicine. Working together through a thoughtful and deliberate process, both organizations will work toward creating a new, distinct academic health care brand that will work in collaboration to adapt and succeed in a rapidly changing health care landscape. The mutual goal is to transform together, build on combined strengths, and become pioneers in creating a regional population health care, research and educational enterprise.
“I just had a cough, and when I started running a fever, I knew something was off,” said Tracy Glover, referring to how he felt in March of 2020.
Glover’s illness coincided with the early days of a new virus affecting people around the world.
“From the time I was diagnosed with COVID, to the time that I was intubated, became a blur,” said Glover.
In all, Glover spent 18 days at Vidant Medical Center – and nearly five of those on a ventilator.
“The concern when I first met him, I’m thinking, ‘Ok we’ve got a young, early 50’s gentleman who fits the profile of the person that should not survive,’” said Charlsie Woodard, a nurse practitioner and hospitalist at the East Carolina Heart Institute at Vidant Medical Center.
Woodard was one member of a large care team at Vidant involved in Tracy’s care, with her enthusiasm leaving a lasting impression.
“To have her come in and encourage me, push me and to give me goals, really meant a lot,” said Glover.
And so on the year anniversary of Glover’s discharge, he celebrated the occasion by making good on a promise to give Woodard a hug, in gratitude for the care he received.
“I’m glad to be here,” said Glover. “Because without the support and prayers of my family, and the great care of the staff here at Vidant, I would not have recovered as well as I did.”
“I feel like I was the calvary,” said Woodard. “So many people had taken such good care of him before I met him, and I just got to wean his oxygen and be a cheerleader and help him get home.”
A shared experience bringing forth recovery and reflection.
“He’s a COVID win, and that’s what we would call him,” said Woodard. “It’s a COVID win.”
“It really does change your perspective on life itself,” said Glover. “How every breath is not a guarantee, it’s just another opportunity.”
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.
Audio courtesy of WPTM-FM – Byrne Radio (Roanoke Rapids)
Dr. Kenneth Robert, Vidant family physician
COVID-19 has been devastating to our communities in eastern North Carolina from the small businesses that have closed to all of the loved ones we have lost. The vaccine is the best tool that we have to move past the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Robert said that the measures we took to slow the pandemic, like wearing masks and social distancing, were effective. Now, with a vaccine in hand we have a proven safe way to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Right now we have vaccines that have been tested and have been deemed safe,” Dr. Robert said. “Taking the vaccine would truly help to really overcome the devastation that the pandemic is causing throughout eastern North Carolina, the United States and the world.”
Vidant Health has vaccinated many people across eastern North Carolina and efforts are ongoing to reach community members who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Vidant still has COVID-19 vaccine clinics open throughout eastern North Carolina.
“We’re trying to get to as many people as we can,” Dr. Robert said. “We’re really trying to get the word out that the vaccines are available. In the early days it was somewhat difficult to get a vaccine… At this point in time, that is not the case. We have vaccines available for most anyone.”
Dr. Robert stressed that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. While side effects do occur for some people after receiving the vaccine, they are typically very minor.
As we look to a more hopeful future, receiving your vaccine is the best way to fight this pandemic, not only for yourself, but for those you love.
He also said the faster we can get people in the community vaccinated, the faster we can get back to living comfortably without the worry of infecting others with COVID-19.
If you have any questions regarding the vaccine, please contact your trusted doctor. To make your vaccine appointment, visit Vidanthealth.com/Vaccinate or call 252-847-8000.
There are differences in the forms of skin cancer and some, like basal and squamous cell skin cancers, are most common. They start in the top layer of skin and are often related to sun exposure. These cancers grow in the epidermis, the top layer of skin, and are usually removed completely to avoid spreading to other areas. Skin cancers like melanoma, while less common, are more likely to spread if left untreated.
Because exposure to UV rays is one of the most common risk factors for skin cancer, the most important way to lower your risk of skin cancers is to limit your exposure to these rays. Look for ways to reduce sun exposure by using and diligently reapplying sunscreen (with an SPF of at least 30). Also, avoid tanning lamps which give off UV rays and damage the skin.
Knowing your own skin is important to finding skin cancer early. Any spots on the skin that are new or changing in size, shape or color should be checked by a doctor. Any unusual sore, lump, blemish, marking or change in the way an area of the skin looks or feels may be a sign of skin cancer or a warning that it might occur.
“Remembering the A,B,C,D,E rule for skin cancer, particularly melanoma, is an important step in a skin self-exam,” said Dr. Nasreen Vohra, surgical oncologist and associate professor of surgery at ECU and Vidant Health. “For ‘A,’ look for asymmetrical shapes to skin lesions. For ‘B,’ check the borders of these lesions, irregular borders are more concerning. ‘C’ is for color, take notice if the lesion is unevenly pigmented or if there are changes in color. ‘D’ is for the diameter of the lesion and if it is greater than 6 millimeters, or the size of a pencil eraser, this could be concerning. Finally, ‘E’ is for evolving, so pay attention if the lesion is changing in any noticeable way.”
Some doctors and other health care professionals do skin exams as part of routine health check-ups. If the doctor thinks a suspicious area might be skin cancer, the area will be removed and sent to a lab to be examined.
There are different types of skin biopsies. The doctor will choose one based on the suspected type of skin cancer, where it is on your body, its size and other factors. Spread of the cancer deeply below the skin or to other parts of the body is uncommon for squamous cell cancers and rare for basal cell cancers, so most people with one of these skin cancers do not need imaging tests. However, imaging tests such as MRI and CT scans may be done if your doctor thinks you might be at risk for the cancer spreading outside the skin.
Fortunately, most of these cancers and pre-cancers can be cured with fairly minor surgery or other types of local treatments. It is important to discuss all of your treatment options, including their goals and possible side effects, with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs.
“One of the most important factors to remember is skin damage is cumulative and the negative effects on your skin during your early years makes an impact on your skin health as you age,” Dr. Vohra said.
Given this, you should be mindful of ways to reduce your exposure to harmful UV rays, such as avoiding direct exposure when they are the most intense, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Also, wear protective clothing such as hats and sunglasses with prolonged sun exposure. These are important, proactive steps for avoiding skin damage and maintaining skin health.
For more information about the risks and prevention of skin cancer, or if you do not have a primary care provider, please contact the Prevention Clinic at Vidant Cancer Care at (252) 816-RISK (7475).
Mark Dunn, Vice President of Talent & Organization Development for Vidant Health
Improving the health and well-being of a 29-county rural region goes beyond the advanced technology and cutting-edge treatment options housed in our hospitals and clinics. To meet our mission in the East, we at Vidant Health understand the importance of investing in and nurturing team members.
Vidant’s workplace environment is built around the concept of the “Big E,” which stands for everyone’s experience, versus a focus on only patient experiences or only team engagement. In short, we believe the way our team members experience each other, is how our patients experience their care. As the leader of Vidant’s Talent and Organization Development teams, our primary goal is to foster an environment in which inclusion, collaboration, development and accountability can thrive. Doing this well directly impacts the care patients receive.
Our work to attract and develop high quality, high touch team members is the first step in building a “Big E” workforce. I am convinced that the continued investment in personal and professional growth truly brings us closer to our mission. We want team members to take pride in where they work and the impact they have on each other and those we serve.
Vidant takes its civic responsibility to support and grow the region seriously. That’s why we have focused on creating growth opportunities from within and taken steps to ensure we are building a strong foundation, including raising the starting wage to $13 per hour. Out of this continued focus on our communities, Vidant is building stronger connections to regional universities, community colleges and county resources to advance programs such as our Health Science Academy, NA II advancement program, GED lab and Vidant Community Employment Pipeline, to name a few.
The “Big E” culture is built from the ground up.
Programs like the innovative “The Learning Pathway”, which was recently launched at Vidant Medical Center in partnership with Sodexo, a nationally known health care partner providing leadership and services in environmental services, food services and hospitality, prepares Vidant team members by positioning them to lead from their current role, and preparing them to take on leadership roles within the organization. The 12-week offering is designed for team members to learn leadership skills that can be applied both personally and professionally. This includes courses focused on content such as accounting, diversity and inclusion and more. The Learning Pathway is one of many programs led by Sodexo in partnership with Vidant Talent and Organization Development and we are constantly striving to be a positive example of workplace culture for businesses in the region.
We understand the importance of local hospitals, clinics and wellness centers in the region we proudly serve. These places of caring stimulate local economies, provide charity care and are often the largest employers. An economically vibrant community is a healthy community. At Vidant, this starts with an investment in a talented and diverse workforce of more than 13,000 team members across eastern North Carolina.
“I am incredibly proud of this important milestone in Vidant’s collective work to realize a life without cancer,” said Dr. Stuart Lee, chief, division of neurosurgery, Vidant Health and medical director of The Gamma Knife Center, Vidant Medical Center.
The Gamma Knife® works by targeting problematic cells, which shrinks the size of brain tumors over time. This technology shortens recovery time and is often performed in an outpatient setting. Before this technology, for certain kinds of brain tumors, the treatment was whole-brain radiation, which means even the healthy parts of the brain were radiated.
Dr. Lee spoke of a previous patient whose brain tumor shrunk significantly six weeks after treatment. “This was a lady in her late thirties who was still working, even with her cancer,” Lee said. “She actually went on a cruise after her second Gamma Knife®.”
“Our teams work passionately to support those battling cancer. Those across our region can access advanced technology close to home, which reduces the need to travel elsewhere to receive treatment,” said Dr. Lee. “By performing 2,000 Gamma Knife® procedures, we are delivering on our 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.”
The new location will initially be open Monday-Friday and can accommodate up to 350 vaccine appointments per day. Vidant may adjust days and hours of operations for the clinic based on demand. Appointments are required and are already available at VidantHealth.com/Vaccinate or by calling 252-847-8000.
The Convention Center clinic will pause operations from April 7-12 due to an event hosted at the Convention Center. The Convention Center clinic will re-open April 13 to complete already-scheduled second doses only and will permanently close after all scheduled second doses are complete.
Effective April 8 and until further notice, all new doses in Greenville will be given at the Vidant Greenville Vaccine Clinic on Arlington Boulevard.
Although the vaccine offers great hope, Vidant encourages everyone to do their part to keep communities in the region safe from COVID-19: wear a mask, social distance and wash hands. Those who receive the vaccine should still practice these important safety measures.
“I’ve never had an opportunity to do anything so important,” said Karen Harris, a pharmacy technician who has been on the job for more than 20 years. But what’s been required for COVID-19 is a first.
“This is our contribution to the public,” said Harris, who is part of a system-wide team helping prep vaccines at the Vidant / Pitt County Large-Scale Vaccine Clinic at the Greenville Convention Center.
“It’s kind of overwhelming to even think about being involved. And I’m grateful, so grateful that I can be a part of it – because this is a part of history,” she said.
The vaccines used at the convention center get their start at a pharmacy at Vidant Medical Center (VMC) each morning. An early start — and a lot of planning and coordination — ensures vaccines arrive when and where they are needed across eastern North Carolina.
“We carry a tray of vaccines out, with 20, 30, 40 doses over to our vaccination area,” said Andy Grimone, assistant director of pharmacy at VMC. “The doses are all prepared and no one really knows how they got to that point.”
What’s not a mystery — the significance of their role and the doses of hope they deliver.
“The experts and the science behind it is saying the vaccine is working,” said Grimone. “So to know that what we’re doing here is making an impact in eastern North Carolina, is pretty awesome. And we couldn’t do it without this team.”
Harris agrees. “Everybody here is dedicated to what we’re doing. We all want to stop COVID-19 and the best way to do that is to vaccinate.”
For additional information on vaccine appointment availability and how to register for your dose of hope, please visit www.VidantHealth.com/Vaccinate.