An EVS team member cleans a hospital bed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Feb. 24, the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU), who have seen COVID-19 patients since the pandemic began, shared their journey on Hometown Healing. Myra Thompson, the nurse manager of the MICU at VMC, said it is a part of daily life for those on her unit.

“We can’t get away from it,” she said. “It doesn’t go away. It is in my head all the time, whether I’m here or not.”

Thompson said it has been difficult to be away from family, friends and loved ones during the pandemic, but it is necessary to keep them safe. She said she does not want to be the one who could possibly spread the virus to a loved one because she works with so many infected patients.

She said some days don’t even feel real when working on the unit with all she sees. But she knows there is work that needs to be done and people who need help.

“We have families too and we have things we are worried about at home and all kinds of other things and we come here,” Thompson said, “we are expected to put that aside and do what we do. It’s more than being a hero for working in this unit.”

For Thompson, having a team to go through the daily challenges with makes things better. The team has also benefited from a tranquility room on the unit, where they can take a break away from the unit and have a moment to breathe.

Another source of inspiration and hope for brighter days ahead, comes from the community.

“Just love us. Motivate us. It’s the hardest work that we’ve ever done, and we do it well,” she said. “Just don’t give up on us. Please wear your mask, please wash your hands. Please stay home unless you have to be out. Just keep loving and supporting us.”

Behind the teams directly working with patients to keep everyone safe during the pandemic is the Environmental Services Team (EVS). This group of team members was recognized on Feb. 23 for their efforts throughout the pandemic.

Natashia Scott, the EVS manager at VMC, along with about 265 other team members, work behind the scenes every day to ensure doctors, nurses, patients, visitors and everyone who enters the hospital doors are as protected as possible from the virus.

It is not a job without risks.

“We disinfect and clean patient areas in the hospital to make sure it is clean and conducive for our patients,” Scott said. “We have to touch every surface, like walls, and we have to take the curtains down. We’re touching every high-touch surface like light handles and door handles.”

COVID-19 fundamentally changed how the team had to do their jobs. She said what used to be a 30-minute job can now take an hour.

The pandemic also brought more technology to the team.

“We introduced solaris, which is a UV disinfect tool. It ensures all of the surfaces that we might not get are penetrated, sanitized and disinfected,” Scott said.

She said she knows it is a scary thing, to go into a room and clean room that a COVID-19-positive patient has been in. But with a community and hospital relying on them, they step up to get the job done.

Scott said as a manager, it is important that she stands with her team and makes them feel comfortable during challenging times. Her team is working together to help a community.

“Our housekeepers are the real heroes. None of this would be possible without them,” Scott said.

Watch and read more on the MICU team’s story and EVS team’s story.

Covid-19 | Health News

Musicians play at the Vidant/Pitt Large-Scale Vaccine Clinic at the Greenville Convention Center.

“Music therapy is not a new science,” said Vidant Chief Experience Officer Dr. Julie Kennedy Oehlert. “We know that music can calm anxieties and ease pain. Music from internationally renowned musicians provides a soothing experience for community members in the observation area after they receive their dose of hope.”

Four Seasons Artistic Director Ara Gregorian values the partnership they have built with Vidant. “Four Seasons is committed to bringing great music and musicians to as many people as possible, and I can think of no better way to do this during the pandemic than bringing musicians from around the world to regularly perform at the Large-Scale Vaccine Clinic,” Gregorian said.

“The beautiful, healing music gratefully provided by Four Seasons will forever be a part of the memories of those that receive their vaccine,” Dr. Oehlert said. Vidant and Four Seasons have partnered for years to bring musical experiences to patients at Vidant Medical Center via live performances and video recordings featuring acclaimed Four Seasons musicians.

Dr. Oehlert said, “This collaboration is yet another demonstration of how our community comes together to support each other during this pandemic and other times of need.”

Vidant has vaccinated over 10,000 people thus far. For more information about vaccination appointments, visit www.Vidanthealth.com/vaccinate or sign up for email updates on Vidant’s vaccine efforts as new information becomes available.

Covid-19 | Health News

The 72-year-old lifelong eastern North Carolina resident was among the first in line at the large-scale vaccination clinic, organized by Vidant Health and the Pitt County Department of Health.

“I hope and pray that some other people will come to realize that this is what we need to do,” Joyner said. “We need to get this vaccine.”

Vidant teams have been working around the clock to prepare to vaccinate more than 4,000 people in the first week.

“We knew this was going to be a big deal, we knew we were going to need a lot of help and expertise to do it,” said Dan Drake, PhD, RN, president of Vidant Medical Group & Ambulatory Services.

“There is a lot of pride with being able to offer this to people who are vulnerable, and frail and at risk,” said Vidant Health Chief Experience Officer Julie Kennedy Oehlert, DNP, RN. “And none of us take it lightly.”

“Many of the patients that we have immunized have been so gracious; in fact, many of them have talked about it like it’s a life-saving intervention and for many of them it may be,” said Drake.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be unprecedented, so is the defense against it.

“This is the largest mass vaccination effort in the history of humankind; it’s the largest public health intervention we have ever faced,” said Drake.

“We all stood and watched these people that we’ve been preparing for, for a couple of weeks – and we were just like, ‘Yay! You’re here. We’re here for you! You’re here, we’re here. Let’s do this!’” said Oehlert.

It’s a rallying cry for a region – and a dose of hope for the communities Vidant serves.

Joyner, for one, agrees: “It’s a blessing, it’s a blessing that we’ve got this.”

Covid-19 | Health News

Appointment information for eligible community members:

Beginning 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 22, community members can view appointment availability by conveniently visiting VidantHealth.com/Vaccinate. The online appointment scheduler is the fastest and most convenient way to view and schedule an appointment. If internet access is not available or special assistance is required, community members may call 252-847-8000. Due to large call volumes, community members are encouraged to only use this number if necessary.

 

Appointment information for those on the Pitt County Health Department Wait List:

A majority of the appointment slots in the initial phase will be allocated for the more than 8,000 people on the Pitt County Health Department wait list. Those already on the health department’s wait list will be directly contacted in the coming days and weeks by either email or phone. Individuals who are on the wait list are encouraged to check their email regularly and answer calls from a phone number beginning with 252-902. The Pitt County Health Department will stop accepting new wait list submissions effective today, Thursday, Jan. 21.

Vidant serves a region of 1.4 million people and appointments are expected to fill up quickly. The public is encouraged to be patient as it is expected to take months to vaccinate eligible community members. The initial goal is to administer more than 4,000 vaccines per week depending on the state’s vaccine allocations. Vidant and Pitt County will adjust appointment slots as needed, depending on vaccine allocations and other resources.

Vidant is also collaborating with other health departments and ECU to rapidly open more vaccine clinics across the region.

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. Importantly, a high number of COVID-19 patients are relying on Vidant for care and our team members are not immune from community spread. Please do your part to protect yourself and those around you.

Community members can visit VidantHealth.com/Vaccinate to view appointment availability, stay up to date on Vidant’s vaccine efforts and sign up for email updates.

Covid-19 | Press Releases

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.

Covid-19 | Health News