Dr. Teresa Anderson holds her ECU College of Nursing Hall of Fame Award inside her office.

Keeping patients safe while they receive high-quality compassionate care is at the heart of what ECU Health does for eastern North Carolina. This is especially important to Dr. Teresa Anderson, ECU Health’s senior vice president for Quality, who recently celebrated her induction into the East Carolina University (ECU) College of Nursing Hall of Fame.

She joins a number of colleagues, mentors, friends and former classmates in the Hall of Fame, which recognizes the accomplishments of ECU’s exemplary nursing graduates and faculty members.

When Dr. Anderson enrolled at ECU, nursing school was not the path she thought she’d take. She started out in education but after a semester of tutoring, she realized it was not her passion. She started on her nursing course work and never turned back.

“I always had a heart of service,” she said. “Then I got into nursing school and on we went. I actually started at [ECU Health] Medical Center in 1996 as a nursing assistant while I was in nursing school. I hit 28 years of service this May.”

Dr. Teresa Anderson holds her ECU College of Nursing Hall of Fame Award inside her office.
Dr. Teresa Anderson holds her plaque recognizing her induction into the ECU College of Nursing Hall of Fame inside her office.

Over those 28 years, Dr. Anderson has worn many different hats. From the nursing assistant role to a bedside nurse and working in various medical roles before taking on management and administration, she believes her varied experiences have helped her be successful in her current role in Quality.

Along with the variety of her work and the mentors she has learned from, Dr. Anderson said it’s the patients and ECU Health’s commitment to improving the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina that keeps her coming back each day.

“Our mission and the population that we serve are special and important to me,” Dr. Anderson said. “We serve a very complex population. I know that we’re doing so much good for our patients and our community, and there’s so much more we can do now alongside the Brody School of Medicine. There’s just going to be so much more that we can do with population health and making sure that people get all the services and access to care that they need.”

Dr. Anderson is a three-time ECU graduate with her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from the university. She’s also been recognized as a Great 100 nurse in 2016 and received a Leadership DAISY Award in February of 2021.

Dr. Amy Campbell, a quality nurse specialist at ECU Health and an ECU College of Nursing Hall of Fame inductee last year, submitted the nomination for Dr. Anderson to be admitted to the Hall of Fame. In the nomination, Campbell noted that Dr. Anderson is an outstanding role model and mentor who influences positive change while recognizing her team’s accomplishments.

“Over the years, she has served in many leadership and administrative roles that have led to improvements in patient outcomes. In addition, she has served on numerous community boards and enhanced the lives of Pitt County Residents,” Campbell wrote in her nomination. “On a personal note, Teresa has been a mentor to me personally and professionally over the last 14 years. She encouraged me to go back to school of my Ph.D. and was an active member of my dissertation committee. She has walked with me through tough times and give me priceless feedback to help me grow. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award.”

Dr. Anderson said she was humbled and grateful to have been nominated and accepted into the Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame members, new and former winners along with family and friends, attended a ceremony and had their nomination letters read before they were presented with a plaque to honor their induction.

Members of the Hall of Fame help fund a scholarship for the next generation of nurses and Dr. Anderson said this was one of the most special parts of the recognition for her.

“They showed a video from one of the recipients of the scholarship money at the event,” Dr. Anderson said. “She talked about how much it meant to her and it was very nice to know that the money collected goes to a great cause and to fund students in need. She talked about making ends meet and paying rent and all of her work in school. I remember those days, so it feels great to give back to future nurses.”

Resources

ECU Health Nursing

ECU College of Nursing Hall of Fame

2023 ECU Health Inductees

Awards | Featured | Nursing

Breanna Culler poses for a photo with her ECU School of Social Work Outstanding Field Instructor award.

After graduating from East Carolina University with a Master of Social Work (MSW), Breanna Culler moved away from her hometown of Stokes, North Carolina, to live and work in Poughkeepsie, New York. Then one day she received a call from Sue Anne Pilgreen, manager of the Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program (ECIPP) and the Pediatric Asthma Program at ECU Health.

“She’d gotten a grant for a Suicide Prevention Coordinator for ECIPP and needed to find someone to fill that position,” Culler said. “My previous internship field supervisor and a professional colleague gave her my name and she called me up.”

Culler ended up getting the job and moved back to North Carolina. Just a year after starting her new role, Culler was approached about serving as a social work field instructor for a graduate student. This year, Culler was awarded the East Carolina University School of Social Work Outstanding Field Instructor award in recognition of the work she’s done with social work graduate students.

Breanna Culler poses for a photo with her ECU School of Social Work Outstanding Field Instructor award.
Breanna Culler poses for a photo with her ECU School of Social Work Outstanding Field Instructor award.

Culler’s work primarily centers on firearm safety, safe storage of firearms and suicide prevention, specifically for veterans and LGBTQ+ individuals.

“I struggle to describe my job because our team does so much, but we provide resources and education through formal trainings such as Counseling on Access to Lethal Means (CALM) and less formal settings such as community events,” Culler said. “I am a co-lead with the Pitt County Firearm Safety Coalition, which includes law enforcement, medical providers and others from across Pitt County, and I work closely with Veteran’s Affairs and the Dr. Jesse R. Peel LGBTQ Center at ECU, along with other agencies across eastern North Carolina. If we’re not out providing education, we’re in the office preparing a program or connecting with new agencies.”

Culler said a challenge to developing these programs is how to customize the content based on location.

“Greenville is very different from other communities,” she explained. “Figuring out how to connect to rural populations and make this information and education relevant to folks living on the outskirts of town — that’s very important to me both on a professional and personal level. You have to think about those things to make any program sustainable and impactful.”

ECIPP does this by finding innovative approaches to the challenges associated with firearm safety and suicide prevention.

“For example, there are many health systems that partner with law enforcement agencies regarding firearm safety,” Culler said. “But we realized a lot of people get their guns from pawn shops, so we have initiated relationships with pawn shops around eastern North Carolina as a creative avenue to spread suicide prevention education and firearm safety resources.”

Along with her firearm safety work, Culler also partnered with the Safe Communities Coalition and Pitt County Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) to launch the You Belong Here campaign which aims to reduce suicide among LGBTQ+ youth.

“This is our other major project, as it encompasses a documentary, resource library, allyship education, parent support group and a therapy fund,” Culler said. “We started the therapy fund as a part of You Belong Here and created a partnership with mental health providers, linking those people with providers and giving financial coverage for that care. We’ve been able to share it both nationally and across the state, which is pretty cool.”

As a result of that creativity and hard work, Culler was approached early-on about taking a MSW student from ECU.

“I was only 24 and was nervous,” Culler said. She had great field instructors when she was a student, and that influenced her own interactions with her interns. “The thing I’ve enjoyed the most is seeing how the students see a new side to social work.”

Students may expect to work in child welfare or social services, but with Culler, they get to see a more community-based, out-of-the-clinical-box advocacy and education.

“Breanna is very intentional in allowing her students to play an integral part of the program development, implementation and evaluation of whatever they are doing,” said Pilgreen.

That’s why Pilgreen was not surprised when she learned that Culler had won the ECU School of Social Work Outstanding Field Instructor award. Culler, however, didn’t even realize she’d been nominated for the award until she found out she’d won.

“My intern nominated me, but I didn’t know, so it was very much a surprise,” she said. “I was excited to win the award in general, but that my intern nominated me made it much more special.”

The award recognizes student supervisors for their commitment to providing a rich learning environment and their dedication to educating the next generation of social workers while also exemplifying professional social work qualities.

“Breanna’s most recent intern played a huge role in the North Carolina Youth Suicide Prevention Symposium we hosted in March,” Pilgreen said. “The intern has a special interest in research and data collection, and she’s now working toward submitting conference presentation abstracts and a manuscript with Breanna’s guidance.”

In addition to her work, Culler now plans to become a North Carolina Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Doing so will allow her to practice independently or clinically.

“I have the degree, so I just need to go through with getting the clinical training hours to get become licensed,” she said. “Then I can become a provider serving the same communities where I work now.”

The grant funding Culler’s position was set to run out on Aug. 31, 2024, but Pilgreen recently received an unexpected call from NCDHHS asking if they could extend Culler’s position and programmatic funding for another year.

“This is unheard of,” Pilgreen said. “It only happened because of the amazing work that Breanna has not only done as a social work field instructor, but also as an avid advocate in the field of suicide prevention and firearm safety.”

Culler said she loves the work she does and was surprised to find out she had an additional year of funding.

“I love working in community health and with the prevention team,” she said. “I love the team I work with – they’re like a family. I appreciate being a part of a system that’s invested in my home.”

Awards | Community

Combined photo of, from left to right: Noor Baloch, Nolan Davis, Michael Denning, Charles Johnson, Hannah Rayala, Emmalee Todd, Ben Wise and Michael Wright. They will join students from other colleges and universities across the state in the North Carolina Medical Society Kanof Institute of Physician Leadership’s 2024 Future Clinician Leaders College (FCLC).

By ECU News Services

Eight students in the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University have been named to the North Carolina Medical Society Kanof Institute of Physician Leadership’s 2024 Future Clinician Leaders College (FCLC).

Noor Baloch, Nolan Davis, Michael Denning, Charles Johnson, Hannah Rayala, Emmalee Todd, Ben Wise and Michael Wright will join students from other colleges and universities across the state who are interested in leadership and professional growth.

“The FCLC program provides us with a unique, structured ability to engage with our future colleagues on community-level projects that address the varied landscape of health, health equity and health care,” Denning said. “Gaining intense leadership training alongside other health professions students will allow me both introspection and outward reflection on my future role, as well as mechanisms to ensuring our patients are excellently and compassionately cared for.”

Combined photo of, from left to right: Noor Baloch, Nolan Davis, Michael Denning, Charles Johnson, Hannah Rayala, Emmalee Todd, Ben Wise and Michael Wright. They will join students from other colleges and universities across the state in the North Carolina Medical Society Kanof Institute of Physician Leadership’s 2024 Future Clinician Leaders College (FCLC).
From left to right: Noor Baloch, Nolan Davis, Michael Denning, Charles Johnson, Hannah Rayala, Emmalee Todd, Ben Wise and Michael Wright will join students from other colleges and universities across the state in the North Carolina Medical Society Kanof Institute of Physician Leadership’s 2024 Future Clinician Leaders College (FCLC). (Photo contributed by ECU News Services)

Prospective students are referred and nominated to the program by faculty, mentors and others at their respective colleges. The 2024 class includes 27 students representing disciplines including medicine and pharmacy from ECU, UNC Chapel Hill and Duke, Campbell, Wake Forest, Western Carolina and Wingate universities in North Carolina, as well as St. Georges University in Grenada.

FCLC is a partnership with North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (NC AHEC) to provide opportunities of leadership in an interprofessional health care environment and networking across institutions. The one-year program is designed to enhance health care experience through advocacy, change-driving and individual leadership skills.

Baloch said she wants to be a leader when it comes to ensuring proper care for her patients.

“I felt that in order to be the best leader I could be, I needed additional training alongside other health care professionals to really understand my role as a physician in a health care team as well as establish how I can best serve my patients in that way,” she said. “Through this program, I am able to understand my own leadership style as well as my faults so that I can work on them and ensure I am self-aware regarding how I lead interactions with my patients.”

The program emphasizes leading in interprofessional health care environments and networking across institutions. The interactive learning format encourages participants to engage with their peers and program leaders, faculty and speakers. They also participate in a project that gives them exposure to some of the major health policy challenges relevant to North Carolina.

“This is an incredible opportunity for these eight students to work with other interprofessional students across the state to develop the skills necessary to be a leader in health care tomorrow,” said Dr. Amanda Higginson, Brody’s associate dean for student affairs. “We know our Brody graduates go on to do amazing things; this wonderful program will further develop these students to both improve the health and well-being of the region, but also to augment the already great training they receive here to prepare them to become physicians who will meet the health care needs of the state, both critical mission goals of the school.”

The students will have hands-on experience cultivating leadership skills including team-leading, communication and career development.

“The purpose is to build leadership that centers on self-awareness and fosters authenticity that allows each student to act in alignment with their core values as a leader, encourage and assess information from different perspectives, and balance transparency,” according to the program website. “With the individual core as a foundation for leadership development, this course prepares students for the leadership journey, allowing the individual to establish a strong sense of purpose and understanding of who they want to be as a leader.”

Todd said the nature of medicine as a “team sport” necessitates the ability to collaborate with other health care professionals at any given time.

“In order to do this, it’s important to understand your own teamwork preferences and leadership style and be able to refine them to better suit your purposes,” they said. “I believe my participation in FCLC is providing me the opportunity to do exactly that, which will hopefully lay the groundwork for not just my own success in residency and beyond, but the success of the health care teams of which I will be part.”

Todd said the unique experience to explore a current health-related policy issue in North Carolina is valuable because it gives students a chance to propose potential solutions.

“So much of what impacts our patients’ health are factors that we can’t necessarily do anything about within a half-hour annual physical — their housing situation; the ease of their transportation to work or school; the accessibility of nutritious food, clean water and green space where they live,” they said. “Working towards policy change is one way that physicians can make an impact on these broader societal factors, and it’s something that I would like to be involved in throughout my career. FCLC is equipping me with the experience and skillset I need to begin to pursue this goal.”

Read more from ECU News Services.

Awards | Community

Chad Tucker, director of the Volunteer Services Department at the Medical Center, shakes hands with Jennifer Congleton, administrator of pastoral care and volunteer services, while they hold the North Carolina Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service: Paid Volunteer Director.

The 2023 North Carolina Governor’s Award for Volunteer Services were recently announced, and four volunteers with ECU Health have been recognized. The award honors the true spirit of volunteerism by recognizing individuals and groups who make a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service. The ECU Health award winners this year are Shantell McLaggan, Gaddamanugu Uma and Ed Chambers. Chad Tucker won the North Carolina Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service: Paid Volunteer Director.

Shantell McLaggan and Gaddamanugu Uma

Shantell McLaggan and Gaddamanugu Uma are third-year medical students at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and North Carolina Schweitzer Fellows who have led the effort to train more than 60 health professional and undergraduate student volunteers to serve as doulas in ECU Health Medical Center’s Labor and Delivery Department.

The 2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award winners were recognized by the Pitt County Board of Commissioners during a recent meeting. The award winners are shown in a Pitt County government meeting room, posing for a photo.
Shantell McLaggan, second from left, and Gaddamanugu Uma, fourth from left, pose for a photo during a Pitt County Board of Commissioners meeting where 2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award winners were recognized.

Although the program had some initial growing pains, patient feedback about the program has remained appreciative and positive.

“Patients are always recommending our services to others who will give birth at ECU Health,” McLaggan said. “An unfortunate number of people go through the birthing process with little to no support, and our doulas have stepped up to alleviate that issue.”

Word of the program has spread, and they are receiving an increasing number of requests for doula support from mothers across eastern North Carolina.

“Our first cohorts of volunteers have grown into incredible role models for our newer doulas,” Uma said. “Now Shantell and I are focusing on securing the long-term sustainability of our program. We’re actively brainstorming innovative methods to enhance and optimize our services, aiming to amplify our impact and facilitate safe, empowering birth experiences for families in our community.”

Both McLaggan and Uma were surprised to be recognized with this award.

“Receiving this award was unexpected and humbling. It was nice to be recognized for our hard work and dedication to this community. Uma and I have always been passionate about women’s health and racial and social equity, and creating this program has meant a lot to us,” McLaggan said.

Uma cited the vast impact the program has made in a short time.

“When we began, our goal was to support 50 patients in a year, and we’ve far surpassed that expectation; in just 12 months, we trained 67 volunteers who supported 262 birthing patients!” This is an important achievement, Uma said, because of ECU Health’s wide reach to patients across the region. “ECU Health Medical Center is the sole provider of high-risk prenatal care across our 29 county region, so many of our patients have to navigate countless barriers to even make it to our hospital.”

Both McLaggan and Uma emphasized that their efforts would not have been fruitful if not for the support of administrators, classmates and fellow volunteers.

Ed Chambers

Ed Chambers, an ECU Health Medical Center volunteer, was recognized with the 2023 North Carolina Governor’s Award for Volunteer Services. He poses for a photo with a hospital wheel chair at ECU Health Medical Center's cancer center.

Ed Chambers is a patient escort volunteer at the Medical Center, where he has garnered over 5,000 hours of service in the 23 years he’s volunteered for the system. The Pennsylvania native grew up on a dairy farm before being sent overseas to Okinawa, Japan for service in the Air Force. He eventually moved to Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he met his first wife. She passed away in 1997, but he remarried in 1998.

Chambers worked for 30 years at DuPont in Kinston and Charleston, South Carolina before retiring, and in 2000, his wife came home and told him she applied to volunteer at the Medical Center.

“I asked her if she got me an application, and she said, ‘get yourself one.’ So I did and we worked together for about seven years until she had a knee replacement,” Chambers said. “I’ve just enjoyed it ever since and keep right on getting into it.”

Chambers has been recognized as the Volunteer of the Year for the hospital, and he enjoys training new volunteers. He primarily works in the North tower and in the Cancer Center, and while he can only work one day a week, he hopes to continue volunteering for as long as he’s able.

“I’m hoping I can get 30 years in at the hospital,” he said.

Chambers’ favorite part of volunteering is the people.

“Over the years, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the other great volunteers and the patients,” he said. “I enjoy meeting people and helping them out. It’s been a pleasure.”

Winning the award was a “great honor” for Chambers, and it was special that his daughters, one of whom has also volunteered at the Medical Center, attended the award ceremony.

“I know there are a lot of people deserving of this honor, and I hope their time comes,” Chambers said.

Chad Tucker

Chad Tucker is the director of the Volunteer Services Department at the Medical Center, where he oversees the recruitment, training and quality assurance for all volunteers in the Medical Center. He’s worked at ECU Health for nine years, and in addition to his work at the Medical Center, Tucker serves as the vice president for the NC Hospital Volunteer Professionals and volunteers with his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, where he’s serving as the Area Director.

Tucker attended East Carolina University where he got two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s in public health with a health care administration concentration.

“I thought I wanted to be an attorney,” he said. “I took the LSAT and realized it wasn’t my passion.” Tucker said he “fell into” his role and he’s loved it ever since. “This isn’t a position; it’s my passion.”

Chad Tucker, director of the Volunteer Services Department at the Medical Center, shakes hands with Jennifer Congleton, administrator of pastoral care and volunteer services, while they hold the North Carolina Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service: Paid Volunteer Director.

The best part of his job, he said, is seeing the volunteers interact with the patients, team members and guests.

“I enjoy seeing the impact they make, whether it’s a teenager, a college student who wants to go into health care or someone who is retired wanting to give back.” For Tucker, he doesn’t do the work for recognition. “I just love seeing the organization flourish,” he said. “It’s amazing to see our volunteers’ work and hear team members or patients who are grateful for their service.”

During his tenure, the number of volunteer programs has grown.

“We’ve grown our pet therapy program and our doula program,” he detailed. “We’ve added some people for art therapy, and we’ve had some people do music therapy, as well. Our teen program is one of the largest in the state for VolunTeens, ages 15-17. We’ve added our family medicine clinic and volunteers at the Wellness Center, as well.”

Those experiences have made his time with ECU Health rewarding.

“I’ve loved the opportunity to interact with so many different team members, volunteers, patients and staff, but I’ve also loved the professional development to grow,” Tucker said. “I like to volunteer in the community, so it’s a great marriage of me volunteering and professionally managing volunteers.”

When Tucker attended the Pitt County Commissioner’s meeting to recognize McLaggan, Uma and Chambers, he was surprised to learn he’d won the North Carolina Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service: Paid Volunteer Director.

“I was in complete shock,” he said. “I’m honored to be of service as a paid volunteer, but I also love engaging with volunteers who want to serve in the hospital and community.”

Jennifer Congleton, the administrator of pastoral care and volunteer services, hired Tucker and has enjoyed watching him grow into his role.

“To see him recruit and retain volunteers and become a director – it’s been a tremendous feat,” she said. “It’s been a privilege to work with him, mentor him and see him develop into a leader.”

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all of the volunteers and team members who serve eastern North Carolina at ECU Health. To learn more about the NC Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service, to nominate a volunteer or to see the full list of the 2023 winners, click here.

Awards

ECU and ECU Health leaders ask questions of presenters during the Quality Improvement Symposium.

Each year, the ECU Health Quality Improvement Symposium brings together a diverse group of academic and community physicians, health professionals, health care teams, residents, fellows and students from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University to present their work to an audience of peers and health system leaders.

On Wednesday, Jan. 31, ECU Health and ECU’s Brody School of Medicine hosted the eighth annual event at Eastern AHEC. This year’s event was held in-person and virtually, and showcased more than 40 projects related to quality improvement, patient safety, population health and interprofessional practice.​​

The day kicked off with opening remarks from Dr. Mike Waldrum, CEO of ECU Health and Dean of Brody School of Medicine. After welcoming attendees to the event, Dr. Waldrum expressed his pride in the symposium’s contributions, highlighting the collaborative efforts of teams in addressing regional challenges.

ECU and ECU Health leaders ask questions of presenters during the Quality Improvement Symposium.

“When I look at these posters and our presenters, I see multidisciplinary, diverse teams coming together to educate, engage in dialogue and drive quality improvement for ECU Health and the patients we serve. I am incredibly proud of our team members and students for their commitment to addressing the immense challenges we face as a region,” Dr. Waldrum said.

Following the opening remarks, selected presenters who were chosen from an application process that took place in late-2023, shared their work with the audience of 178 in-person and virtual attendees.

Presentations were categorized into podium presentations, poster presentations, and works-in-progress poster presentations. Awards for the top three podium and poster presentations were announced in the early afternoon.

PODIUM PRESENTATION:

  • Outstanding podium presentation: Erin Atwood, MD, MEd, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology, Brody School of Medicine, “Increasing Counseling about the Risk of Hypoglycemia Associated with Alcohol Consumption and Insulin use for Adolescent Patients with Diabetes at the ECU Health Pediatric Diabetes Clinic”
  • Honorable mention: Jennifer Stahl, MD, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Brody School of Medicine, “Right Care at the Right Location: Tele ICU Project”
  • Honorable mention: Benjamin Copeland, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Brody School of Medicine, “Improving Mental Health Access for Children in Foster Care in Eastern North Carolina”

QUICK SHOT PODIUM PRESENTATION:

  • Outstanding quick shot podium presentation: Juan Guillen-Hernandez, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Brody School of Medicine, “Reducing Unplanned Extubations in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit”
  • Honorable mention: Juli Forbes, MSN, RN, ECU Health Beaufort Hospital, a Campus of ECU Health Medical Center, “Improving Efficiency and Staff Satisfaction in the Operating Room Through a Revised Block Scheduling Framework at a Rural Community Hospital”
  • Honorable mention: Titilola Babatunde, BS, MS4, LINC Scholar, Brody School of Medicine, “Improving Documentation of a Pediatric Early Warning Score in the Electronic Health Record”
  • Honorable mention: Kate Knowles, MSN, RN, CNL, Management, ECU Health Duplin, “Back to the Basics: Hand Hygiene”

POSTER PRESENTATION:

  • First place: John “JC” Rowe IV, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brody School of Medicine, “Optimizing Outcomes for Patients with First Trimester Bleeding”
  • Second place: Gabriella Boccia, MHA, Administrative Fellow, ECU Health, “Improving Sick Visit Clinic Access at ECU Health Physicians Adult and Pediatric Health Care”
  • Third place: Stephanie Smith, MSN, RN, ACM-RN, Maynard Children’s Hospital, ECU Health Medical Center, “Improving Fall Risk Identification in Pediatric Patients”

With a total of 15 podium presentations and 29 poster presentations, symposium attendees gained insights into a variety of Quality-related projects. Dr. Waldrum emphasized the importance of what these presentations can offer.

“These presentations cover complex health care problems and this symposium enables us to think deeply about how we can tackle important issues facing our region,” Dr. Waldrum said. “It is always gratifying to see our team members and students come together to demonstrate their expertise and showcase the passion they have for the work they do.”

​The symposium closed with two concurrent education sessions led by ECU Health team members:

  • Patient Safety, Reliability Science and Root Cause Analysis Application presented by Susan Ingram, MSN, RN CPHQ, Director of Patient Safety
An attendee looks over poster boards of research during the eighth annual Quality Improvement Symposium in 2024.
  • Fostering Psychological Safety for Team and Quality Outcomes presented by Randy Cobb, DSL, ACC, CPCC, Director of Organizational and Leadership Development

To learn more about the symposium and view a list of presentations, click here.

Awards | Community | Featured

Dr. Yaolin Zhou makes notes during an examination of a sample.

Greenville, NC — Yaolin Zhou, MD, associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, director of Quality and Test Utilization, and head of Molecular Pathology at ECU Health, was named to the 2023 Becker’s Hospital Review “Emerging Leaders: Provider Organization Leaders Under 40” list.

The Becker’s Hospital Review list recognizes up-and-coming leaders who are quickly rising through the ranks at their organizations, focusing on development, innovation, and improved outcomes.

The “Emerging Leaders: Provider Organization Leaders Under 40” list honors leaders who are 40 years old or younger for their commitment to optimizing health care. The Becker’s Hospital Review editorial team accepted nominations for this list and curated it to highlight the accomplishments of these rising stars.

Dr. Yaolin Zhou makes notes during an examination of a sample.

Dr. Zhou trained at some of the most prestigious institutions in the world and chose to come to ECU Health to help address some of the most challenging problems in health care delivery. As the only molecular pathologist in ECU Health’s 29-county service area, she provides expertise that benefits more than 1.4 million individuals in the region.

“ECU Health is proud to have Dr. Zhou, a nationally recognized molecular test utilization expert, whose work exemplifies the vital connection between research, education and effective health care delivery,” said Dr. Michael Waldrum, ECU Health CEO and dean of the Brody School of Medicine. “Dr. Zhou’s expertise shapes innovative clinical solutions, addressing unique barriers in rural populations. I am grateful for leaders like Dr. Zhou who are helping to create a healthier present and future for eastern North Carolina.”

Since her arrival in 2020, Dr. Zhou established an innovative molecular consultation service, focused primarily on pre- and post-testing review, to ensure cancer patients receive appropriate molecular tests and treatment. In 2023, she secured a $250,000 industry-funded quality improvement grant to expand her molecular consultation services across practices in eastern North Carolina’s rural 29-county region. This grant aims to identify and address health care disparities in cancer care, ultimately improving patient outcomes.

In addition to her molecular expertise, Dr. Zhou is an internationally recognized quality improvement and test utilization expert. In 2020, she partnered with clinical colleagues to establish a health system-wide initiative to reduce daily repeat lab tests, achieving a 15 to 25 percent reduction in unnecessary repeat daily testing throughout the system. For this multi-specialty and multi-disciplinary collaboration, Dr. Zhou and her team were honored with the prestigious American Society for Clinical Pathology Choosing Wisely Champion Award.

Dr. Zhou is active as a teaching and clinical faculty member and a bioethics and quality improvement instructor at Brody and for ECU Health. She also represents eastern North Carolina on the board of directors for the Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP), the world’s largest association for molecular professionals. Dr. Zhou recently authored an invited guest editorial in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, the official AMP journal. This editorial, based on her grant work, presents a national solution to reduce barriers in precision oncology.

“As a cancer survivor myself, I strive to bring quality and equitable cancer care to those I am honored to serve,” said Dr. Zhou. “All patients deserve high-quality and guideline-recommended cancer treatment. Through this recognition, I hope we can bring greater visibility to how we are addressing disparities in cancer care in our patients. Through collaborative efforts, we can develop solutions for providing equitable cancer care on a broader scale – and it starts here in eastern North Carolina.”

Awards | Featured | Press Releases

A woman has her blood pressure checked at a community health event.

Greenville, N.C. – Four ECU Health Physicians clinics have been recognized by the American Heart Association and American Medical Association for its commitment to improving blood pressure (BP) control rates, earning Gold-level recognition as part of Target: BP. The Gold award recognizes practices in which high blood pressure is controlled in 70% or more of the adult patients affected.

“Managing and controlling your blood pressure is essential for preventing the development of heart disease and stroke, which continue to be leading causes of death for adults in our country,” said Dr. Jason Foltz, chief medical officer, ECU Health Physicians. “High blood pressure is a leading risk factor of heart disease and stroke that can often be prevented or managed if diagnosed and treated properly. Our region experiences high rates of diabetes, stroke and heart disease, and the Target: BP program allows ECU Health to better help patients lower their blood pressure by putting proven knowledge and guidelines to work on a daily basis.”

A woman has her blood pressure checked at a community health event.

ECU Health Physicians clinics achieving Gold Status in Target: BP for 2023 include:

According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a leading risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and preventable death in the U.S. There are 121.5 million adults in the country living with hypertension – that is nearly half of all adults in the U.S. Unfortunately, less than half of them have their blood pressure under control, making both diagnosis and effective management critical. Heart disease is the leading cause of death both nationally and in the state. Meanwhile, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., yet is the fourth leading cause of death in North Carolina.

Target: BP is a national initiative formed by the American Heart Association and American Medical Association in response to the high prevalence of uncontrolled blood pressure. The initiative aims to help health care organizations and care teams, at no cost, improve blood pressure control rates through an evidence-based quality improvement program and recognizes organizations that are committed to improving blood pressure control.

“By committing to helping more people in eastern North Carolina control their blood pressure and reduce their risks for future heart disease and stroke, ECU Health is taking a key step to helping more people live longer, healthier lives,” said Yvonne Commodore-Mensah, PhD, MHS, RN, FAHA, Target: BP advisory group volunteer and associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. “ECU Health’s participation in the Target: BP initiative shows its dedication to turning clinical guidelines into lifelines for patients and their families.”

Awards | Heart and Vascular

By ECU News Services

Dr. Carl E. Haisch, professor of surgery in surgical immunology and transplantation and vice chair of surgical education in the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, has been inducted into the American College of Surgeons Academy of Master Surgeon Educators.

Dr. Carl E. Haisch

Dr. Carl E. Haisch

Haisch is among a cohort of 63 surgical educators to be inducted into the academy in Chicago this fall.

“Dr. Haisch has contributed greatly to the education mission of the ECU Department of Surgery over many years,” said Dr. Eric J. DeMaria, interim chair of Brody’s Department of Surgery. “We continue to rely upon his expertise and experience as we develop new and better ways to educate surgeons both at ECU and around the world going forward. We are extremely pleased that the American College of Surgeons has recognized him for his many important contributions to education.”

Haisch is a dedicated educator whose experience in the field includes attending surgeon in transplant and trauma surgery. He served as chief of transplant at ECU for 20 years and was a member of the trauma team for 15 years. He has served on numerous local, regional and national committees and served as chair of the board of Carolina Donor Services. He is also a member in numerous transplant and trauma societies and is a member of the Society of University Surgeons, the American Surgical Association, the American Society of Transplant Surgeons and the Southern Surgical Association.

Once inducted, members actively engage in advancing the academy’s programs and goals, which are to advance the science and practice of innovative lifelong surgical education, training, and scholarship in the changing milieu of health care; foster the exchange of creative ideas and collaboration; support the development and recognition of faculty; underscore the importance of lifelong surgical education and training; positively impact quality and patient safety; disseminate advances in education and training to all surgeons; and offer mentorship to surgeon educators throughout their professional careers.

“The Academy of Master Surgeons Educators, a vital and ‘living body’ of the American College of Surgeons, continues its legacy of advancing the science and practice of surgical education. The academy is pleased to induct the 2023 cohort of distinguished and highly accomplished educators. This recognition is a true testament to the unwavering commitment of the college to develop and promote ‘best practices’ in surgical education, with the overarching goal to always improve patient care,” said Dr. L.D. Britt, past president of the ACS and co-chair of the academy’s steering committee.

Haisch’s other activities and honors as a surgeon educator include serving on the executive committee of the Association of Program Directors in Surgery and its foundation. He has served as a general surgery program director, surgery clerkship director, associate dean for faculty development and interim associate dean for student affairs. He has received numerous teaching awards including the Bernard Vick Teaching Award, the Distinguished Professor for Teaching from the UNC Board of Governors and the ECU Achievement in International Teaching Award. He was the honorary first recipient of the Carl Haisch Humanism Award initiated by the surgical residents in Brody’s Department of Surgery.

The ACS Academy of Master Surgeon Educators works to advance the science and practice of education across all surgical specialties. Individuals are selected as members, associate members, or affiliate members following a stringent peer review process. This year’s cohort includes 27 member inductees, 35 associate members, and one affiliate member. The first inaugural cohort was inducted in 2018 and the academy has grown to 358 professionals who represent 10 surgical specialties other than general surgery. Inductees are from 18 states and the District of Columbia. They come from 10 countries including the United States.

The ACS is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The college is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an influential advocate for all surgical patients. The college has more than 88,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

Awards | Health News

Technology on a virtual screen

Greenville, N.C. ECU Health has earned 2023 CHIME (College of Healthcare Information Management Executives) Digital Health Most Wired recognition as a certified acute and ambulatory Level 8. The CHIME Digital Health Most Wired program conducts an annual survey designed to identify and recognize health care organizations that exemplify best practices through their adoption, implementation and use of information technology.

“We are excited to see how our utilization of technology supports enhanced patient care and engagement,” said Tanya Thompson, vice president of IT Applications at ECU Health. “As the use of technology continues to evolve in health care environments, organizations are prioritizing growth in technology, not just keeping up with the status quo. At ECU Health, we continue to focus on where we can to bring value through the advancement of our tools and processes to support the organization and take care of patients in eastern North Carolina. The Most Wired Award will continue to be an important barometer for us in this effort.”

Technology on a virtual screen

Among the more than 55,000 facilities represented, ECU Health ranked above peers in categories across eight key areas including: infrastructure, security, administrative/supply chain, analytics/data management, interoperability/population health, patient engagement, innovation and clinical quality/safety. Participants receive a comprehensive benchmarking report enabling them to evaluate their current information systems’ health. This report assists in devising strategies to elevate the quality of health care organizations to enhance industry-wide care standards. The assessment covers digital health performance. The survey assesses the adoption, integration and impact of technologies at all stages of development, from early development to industry leading.

“We are proud to recognize ECU Health’s exceptional dedication to digital health excellence,” said CHIME President and CEO Russell P. Branzell. “ECU Health’s pioneering performance in the industry not only inspires other organizations by example, but also provides patients around the world with better care.”

Participants receive certification based on their overall performance, with level 10 being the highest. The 2023 Digital Health Most Wired program included more than 55,000 represented facilities, with the bar for excellence continually rising each year.

Awards | Press Releases

Greenville, N.C. – ECU Health and the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University’s Lora Joyner was recently selected as the National Bleeding Disorders Foundation (NBDF) Physical Therapist of the Year. Each year, NBDF honors those who have made significant contributions to the inheritable blood and bleeding disorders community at its annual Awards of Excellence program.

“It is an honor to be recognized for my life’s work as a physical therapist in the bleeding disorder community by fellow therapists, health care professionals, patients, families, and HTC colleagues,” said Lora Joyner, MS, PT, PCS, physical therapist and clinic manager at ECU Health Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC). “I am grateful that my name will be associated with Donna Boone and previous award winners and recognized as a role model and mentor for current and future health care professionals in the bleeding disorder community.”

Physical Therapist of the Year, given in honor of Donna Boone, PT, honors an individual who has demonstrated service to the inheritable blood and bleeding disorders community above and beyond their daily responsibilities in an HTC PT role. This person serves as a role model for others in the physical therapy field and has a minimum of two years’ experience working with individuals with blood or bleeding disorders at an HTC. Donna Boone was a pioneer in physical therapy and bleeding disorders and served as a mentor for many professionals.

“We are proud of Lora for all of the hard work, dedication, and leadership she has put into this clinic and into our patients,” said Dr. Beng Fuh, director of pediatric hematology and oncology, “Bleeding disorders, sickle cell disease and cancer are life-changing diagnoses for patients and their families. Lora is an invaluable asset and works hard to ensure patients can live their best lives as possible after diagnosis. Lora’s passion for her patients is reflected by this well-earned achievement.”

Joyner has worked at ECU Health HTC for 32 years as a physical therapist and as the clinic manager for seven years. As HTC manager, Joyner is responsible for selecting patients for clinical trials and research, supporting transition needs of the clinic, quality improvement and writing grants and reports. As a physical therapist, Joyner is responsible for treating any muscular skeletal complications, most commonly joint or muscle bleeds. If left untreated long enough, joint/muscle bleeds can cause chronic pain, long-term joint problems and limited mobility. Joyner also facilitates safe participation in sports and physical activity of patients, including medication management, which allows patients to live an active and fulfilling life. Additionally, Lora has held leadership roles in multiple regional and national organizations. She is the currently the national chair of the physical therapy committee of the NBDF.

“When you see the joy on the face of a little one when you say ‘yes you can play baseball’ after their diagnosis, after they’ve thought they wouldn’t be able to do normal activities, that’s one of my favorite parts of my day,” Joyner said. “All parents dream that their children are able to do normal things, and I’m able to help children do that.”

ECU Health HTC is a nationally recognized comprehensive lifespan clinic with both adult and pediatric specialty services that is one of only three in North Carolina and is part of a national network of over 140 Comprehensive Hemophilia Diagnostic and Treatment Centers, which provide comprehensive specialty care to people with rare inherited bleeding disorders and their families.

Awards | Community | Press Releases | Therapy & Rehabilitation