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

The exterior of ECU Health Medical Center, near the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Tower.

Greenville, N.C. – ECU Health Medical Center recently earned accreditation from the Commission on Cancer (CoC), a quality program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). This accreditation means patients will receive comprehensive, personalized care provided by a team of specialists working closely together, access to information on clinical trials and new treatment options, ongoing monitoring of care and lifelong follow-up, mental health support, financial guidance, survivorship care and other long-term services.

“I am proud of our ECU Health team members and physicians who work hard to provide the most advanced cancer care to eastern North Carolina,” said Brian Floyd, president of ECU Health Medical Center and chief operating officer of ECU Health. “Cancer is a terrible disease that has touched most, if not all, of us in some way. As a regional academic medical center, ECU Health Medical Center strives towards excellence in all it does. This accreditation is a testament to the tireless efforts of our cancer care teams, who make a difference in the lives of so many in our region.”

The exterior of ECU Health Medical Center, near the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Tower.

As a CoC-accredited cancer center, ECU Health Medical Center applies a multidisciplinary approach and treats cancer as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists, and other health care professionals that specialize in caring for cancer patients. Cancer patients benefit from having access to clinical trials, screening and prevention events, palliative care, genetic counseling, rehabilitation, oncology nutrition, and survivorship services.

“Eastern North Carolina faces a disproportionately high rate of cancer, and as the largest health care provider in the East, ECU Health is committed to maintaining excellence in the delivery of comprehensive, compassionate, patient-centered, high-quality care for patients with all types of cancer,” said Dr. Darla Liles, Cancer Committee chair at ECU Health, professor and chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. “This accreditation demonstrates our holistic approach to cancer care that includes preventive measures, educational resources, clinical trials, support and survivorship services and treatment with the latest technologies and highest clinical standards.”

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1.9 million new cancer cases and approximately 609,820 deaths from cancer are expected in 2023 in the United States. Of those, 67,690 new cases are expected in North Carolina. Residents in eastern North Carolina have access to ECU Health’s cancer care network that spans across nine hospitals – including the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Tower at ECU Health Medical Center in Greenville that is home to both inpatient and outpatient cancer services – five radiation oncology sites, three joint ventures and numerous outpatient clinics.

“The Commission on Cancer brings together experts and advocates from across the country to develop standards for cancer care so that patients with cancer receive the highest quality care coordinated by a team of dedicated physicians and specialists,” said Timothy Wm. Mullett, MD, MBA, FACS, professor, general thoracic surgery medical director, Markey Cancer Center Affiliate and Research Networks University of Kentucky, and chair of the Commission on Cancer.

Awards | Cancer | Community | Press Releases

This article is one of a series celebrating the 2023 Great 100 Nurses of North Carolina ECU Health honorees. The Great 100 Nurses in North Carolina honors the nursing profession by recognizing nurses around the state for their commitment to excellence. The recipients are distinguished for their outstanding professional ability as well as their contributions to improving health care services in their communities. This year’s 13 ECU Health honorees include Lindsay Caddell, Jenny Wester and Rhiannon Stallings.

Lindsay Caddell

Lindsay Caddell, staff nurse in the NICU at ECU Health Medical Center, graduated from East Carolina University with her BSN and started working at ECU Health in 2015. She serves as a bedside nurse, but she also plays other roles, including precepting new nurses, acting as a charge nurse, chairing the bereavement team in the NICU and teaching in the STABLE program, which represents the six assessment and care modules used in the program: sugar/safe care, temperature, airway, blood pressure, lab work and emotional support.

A visit to see her cousin in the NICU when Caddell was in middle school sparked her interest in nursing. “I did some school projects after that, then went to nursing school and knew I wanted to work in the NICU.”

Caddell said now she can’t imagine working anywhere else or in any other setting.

“I built a family here,” she explained. “I have close friends and feel comfortable and confident. I have other people’s backs, and they have mine. Our team is great.” Part of her success comes from the mentorship she received. “I wouldn’t be here today without the people who precepted me and mentored me.” Caddell said that level of support and skill makes it unsurprising that 13 ECU Health nurses have been recognized by The Great 100 Nurses. “It shows we have a great team, especially in the NICU. It speaks to the focus each of us has on passing along the knowledge that was given to us. It’s an environment of education and mentorship.”

Caddell said she didn’t know she’d been nominated for The Great 100 Nurses, so receiving the award letter was a true surprise. “I was honored,” she said. “I know other nurses in the NICU and the hospital who have been honorees, and I respect them. Knowing I was chosen to be alongside nurses of that caliber was exciting.” Caddell hopes that being honored as a younger nurse would inspire new nurses as they began their careers. “It’s humbling to represent the NICU, but also to show younger nurses that there are things you can achieve as a younger nurse.”

Jenny Wester

Jenny Wester named several reasons for becoming a nurse, but a four-week stay in the hospital after breaking her femur when she was 12 made her confident nursing was the right career path.

“I was in traction, and it’s hard to be 12 and not able to move for four weeks,” Jenny said. “But my nurses treated me wonderfully and tried to make every day a good one. I thought, that’s the kind of nurse I want to be.” One nurse in particular, Mary Beth, made a strong impression, and the two stayed in touch well beyond Wester’s hospital stay. “I kept up with her, and when I graduated from nursing school, she sent me a pair of gold scissors. That meant a lot.”

Wester has worked at ECU Health Medical Center since 1998 in pediatrics, and she said she’s never thought about going anywhere else.

“I love this environment and my peds family,” she explained. “ECU Health has been really good to me.” Her work at ECU Health offered flexibility and opportunities to grow. “I had a good work/life balance when my kids were younger and I could adjust my schedule,” Wester shared. “I was able to attend professional conferences, and they paid for me to go back to school to get my BSN.”

Wester attributed her success in part to strong mentor relationships during her career. “I’ve had wonderful mentors, and I wouldn’t be here without them. Now I take ownership of helping our new nurses, and I’m often called ‘Mama Jenny’ on the unit.” Wester said above all, she’s proud of her profession. “I’m so blessed to take care of my patients, and I’m proud to be a nurse. I want for all of our nurses to take pride in who they are and what we can do as a group.”

When she found out she was named a Great 100 Nurse, Wester was humbled and surprised. “I thought, they must not have had as good of an applicant pool this year if I won,” she laughed. Wester said she doesn’t think she does anything that her colleagues don’t also do. “I was taught to work hard,” Wester said. “In 25 years, there’s not a thing I’ve done around here I expected recognition for.”

Rhiannon Stallings

Rhiannon Stallings, a perinatal nurse navigator at ECU Health Medical Center, said that for as long as she could remember, she wanted to be a nurse. “As I went through nursing school, I decided I wanted to work in obstetrics, and here I am.”

After working for a few years at a smaller hospital immediately after graduation, Stallings joined ECU Health and has been here for the last 10 years. Stallings began as a bedside nurse but transitioned three years ago into the perinatal nurse navigator role, which, she said, allows her to impact many patients every day.

“I work with antepartum patients, some of whom are admitted for long stays,” she said. “I go on rounds with OB providers and ensure patients have the consults and education they need. I coordinate cardiac OB patients, who sometimes need special delivery plans to account for their cardiac diagnoses. I get to know the patients ahead of time, but I also go out into the community to meet regional hospitals’ patients’ needs.”

When she learned she’d been named a Great 100 Nurse of North Carolina, Stallings said, “I cried. It was an honor just to be nominated. To have my work recognized – it made me know I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I really enjoy my work and the patients I touch.”

However, Stallings insisted she doesn’t do more than any other nurse at ECU Health. “We have so many nurses who provide great care and want the best outcomes for their patients,” Stallings said. “We love what we do, and we help our patients get through those tough times.” That teamwork, Stallings said, is key to quality care. “I couldn’t do what I do without the interdisciplinary team that’s around me and the administration that supports me. I’m truly thankful for the nurses and providers who support and believe in me.”

The honorees will be honored at a statewide gala in October, to be held in Raleigh.

Awards | Nursing

This article is one of a series celebrating the 2023 Great 100 Nurses of North Carolina ECU Health honorees. The Great 100 Nurses in North Carolina honors the nursing profession by recognizing nurses around the state for their commitment to excellence. The recipients are distinguished for their outstanding professional ability as well as their contributions to improving health care services in their communities. This year’s 13 ECU Health honorees include Elizabeth “Ann” Brabble, Emily Nock and Chelsey “Alex” Owens.

Ann Brabble

Elizabeth “Ann” Brabble described herself as a “small town girl” who enjoys her work as a nurse in the ambulatory surgery unit at ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan Hospital. “Some of our patients have never had surgeries before,” Brabble explained. “They’re scared. But you calm their fears and then see them in Wal-Mart, or they come in for another surgery and ask you to be their nurse.”

Brabble said growing up with her grandparents living with her influenced her decision to become a nurse: “When they got sick, my grandparents moved in and lived with us from when I was 12 or 13 and up. It was at that time I said I wanted to be a nurse, and I never changed my mind.”

Although Brabble loves her current position in outpatient surgery, she has worked in a variety of nursing areas for 37 years, 27 of which have been with ECU Health. “I worked in pediatrics for about 11 years,” Brabble said, “But I enjoy working with patients having surgery: providing the preparation and education to them and their families.”

What helps her in this work, Brabble said, is her faith and the support of her family. In addition to her work on outpatient surgery, Brabble also cross trains in chemotherapy, the outpatient clinic and outpatient lab testing.

“Nursing is about teamwork,” Brabble said when asked about being honored as a Great 100 Nurse of North Carolina. “If we didn’t have a good team, none of what we do would be successful. I try to do every day what is right for my patients, providers, family and co-workers. I wish I could take my whole team with me; I have co-workers who deserve it more than me.”

Brabble also acknowledged that having 13 honorees from the ECU Health system is significant. “It speaks highly of the team members who are striving every day to do the best they can, even in bad situations,” Brabble noted. “You don’t do it for recognition, but it shows that the organization supports team members.”

Brabble does her own work to support student and new nurses. “You have to come in to this not just for the money, but with compassion and care,” Brabble explained. “I tell that to all of my students. Don’t forget about the patient in the bed by focusing on the computer. I teach them to make eye contact and talk to the patient.” Brabble said she credits her own mentors for learning these important skills. “I had excellent preceptors who took me on this journey. Every transition I’ve made, I’ve had people I can refer back to.” Even now, Brabble said she learns something new every day. “New things come out all the time. And I learn things from the new graduates. We might all do the same skill but with a different technique, and you learn from each other what works best for you. Having an excellent team every day makes me successful.”

Emily Nock

Emily Nock wasn’t sure at first what her path in life was supposed to be. “I thought I wanted to be an accountant, and then I thought I wanted to work in public health,” Nock said. “I ended up going to UNC at Chapel Hill to study psychology. It wasn’t until my junior year in college that I realized what I wanted to be.”

Nock’s mother is a nurse, but while growing up, Nock said she thought she wanted to do something else. “In the back of my mind, my mom was a fantastic nurse and a role model, and I thought I could never live up to her greatness,” Nock shared.

After graduating from UNC, however, Nock worked in the Behavioral Health Unit at ECU Health Medical Center, which is where she said her love for helping others truly blossomed. Nock added that having that experience secured her desire to pursue nursing. “I come from a sheltered and privileged upbringing, so to see what many people struggle with – homelessness, mental illness, no family support – it was completely life changing.”

From there, Nock applied for and was accepted into the ECU Accelerated BSN program, from which she graduated in 2016. Nock didn’t want to completely step away from her background in psychology, which is why she chose to work in the neurosciences at ECU Health Medical Center.

“I love the brain and didn’t want to get away from my roots entirely. Seven years later, I still love my patient population so much,” Nock said.

That ECU Health has 13 Great 100 Nurses of North Carolina recipients says a lot about the health system, Nock said. “It’s so wonderful that our leaders and teams are excited to celebrate our nurses and give recognition that’s deserved.” What makes winning the award particularly special for Nock is that she’s not the only one in the family to achieve such an honor. “My mom is a Great 100 recipient from 2001,” Nock explained. “I remember when she got dressed up for the gala – she was so proud and it was so special for her to receive this award.”

When Nock found out she was being nominated, she said she initially felt unworthy. “It was humbling and fulfilling to read the nomination – to see all of your hard work written out helps you realize your worth,” Nock said. “I am especially honored to share the gala experience with my mom.”

Alex Owens

Chelsey “Alex” Owens said that while she picked neurosciences as a practice specialty on a whim, she doesn’t regret the decision. “What I like most about my unit are my co-workers and the patients,” Owens said. “The patient population isn’t the easiest, but we have great teamwork and that makes the shifts smooth.”

Owens graduated with her associate’s degree in nursing from Beaufort Community College in 2016, and she’s worked in ECU Health Medical Center’s neurosciences unit for the last seven years. Being a nurse is something that Owens said she “always wanted to be.” She followed a nursing career pathway in high school and became a Nurse Aide 1 (NA1) as a senior.

To be nominated for and then to win a Great 100 Nurses of North Carolina award was a shock, Owens said.

“My initial reaction was disbelief. I couldn’t believe I’d been a nurse long enough or accomplished enough to be honored with this once-in-a-lifetime award,” she said.

Still, Owens works hard to support her team and promote her profession. “I am head of our CAUTI quality team, I have participated in the Children’s trick-or-treat event for the past four years, I’ve been a clinical coach for five years and an elite charge nurse for four years and I’m a member of our stroke response team,” Owens said. “If my manager needs anything, she can depend on me.”

The honorees will be honored at a statewide gala in October, to be held in Raleigh.

Awards | Nursing

Greenville, N.C. ECU Health Medical Center recently achieved its first accreditations from Surgical Review Corporation (SRC) as a Center of Excellence in Robotic Surgery and a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Surgery. Recognition as an accredited Center of Excellence in Robotic Surgery and Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Surgery means that ECU Health Medical Center has met nationally and internationally recognized standards.

“We are proud of all of the work our team members have done to achieve Center of Excellence in Robotic Surgery and Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Surgery at ECU Health Medical Center,” said Brian Floyd, president of ECU Health Medical Center, chief operating officer, ECU Health. “Earning SRC’s Center of Excellence in Robotic Surgery and in Minimally Invasive Surgery accreditations signifies ECU Health’s ability to consistently deliver safe, high-quality care to our patients. Most importantly, these accreditations assure the patients in our region can access cutting-edge care close to home.”

ECU Health Medical Center team members review operating room monitors before a surgery.

Several surgeons at ECU Health Medical Center have been named Surgeons of Excellence in Robotic Surgery by SRC including:

ECU Health Medical Center surgeons named Surgeons of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Surgery by SRC include:

“Minimally invasive surgeries such as laparoscopic, thoracoscopic, endoscopic and robotic procedures can improve patient outcomes, reduce the risk of complications and reduce recovery times,” said Dr. Carlos Anciano Granadillo, thoracic surgeon, ECU Health, associate professor and chief of thoracic and foregut surgery, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. “These technologies and skillsets allow us to make smaller or practically invisible incisions to perform complex procedures with precision, improving outcomes and impacting recovery times. These accreditations represent all of the training, teamwork, education and procedures we have done to improve patient care.”

Health care facilities and surgeons seeking an SRC accreditation undergo an extensive assessment and inspection process to ensure the applicant meets SRC’s proven standards and requirements. These requirements include surgical volumes, facility equipment, clinical pathways and standardized operating procedures, an emphasis on patient education and continuous quality assessment. Inspectors educate staff in the accredited departments on best practices to help an organization improve its care and services.

“We’re proud to recognize ECU Health Medical Center for its commitment to advancing and providing quality care for all patients,” said Gary M. Pratt, CEO of SRC. “This accreditation signals that this facility is among the best in this specialty and is dedicated to delivering the highest level of care possible.”

Awards | Surgery

Greenville, N.C. – The Great 100 Nurses of North Carolina Board of Directors have named thirteen ECU Health nurses in their list of the Great 100 Nurses of North Carolina. The recipients are recognized for their outstanding professional ability and contributions to improving health care services in their communities.

“I admire, and I am so proud of our ECU Health nurses who have dedicated their careers to caring for others and serving our region,” said Trish Baise, chief nursing executive, ECU Health. “We congratulate the amazing nurses of ECU Health for receiving the once-in-a-lifetime honor of being part of the Great 100. Thank you to this year’s honorees and to each and every member of the ECU Health nursing team who exemplify our mission and an unwavering commitment to excellent, compassionate care every day.”

Since 1989, The North Carolina Great 100, Inc. has recognized and honored nurses around the state for their commitment to excellence and to promote a positive image of the nursing profession. Each year, the Great 100 Nurses of North Carolina Board of Directors asks patients, health care workers, friends and family members to nominate an outstanding nurse practicing in North Carolina. Thousands of nominations are reviewed, and 100 nurses are selected and honored at a statewide gala in October.

The ECU Health nurses chosen as Great 100 Nurses of North Carolina in 2023 are:

Elizabeth “Ann” Brabble, RNC

Ann Brabble, RNC is a staff nurse III in the Ambulatory Surgical Unit and Endoscopy Department at ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan Hospital. Ann has worked at ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan Hospital for five years and previously worked at ECU Health Bertie Hospital for 22 years. Ann received her associate degree in nursing from Roanoke-Chowan Community College and has been a registered nurse for 37 years. She also has a specialty certification in Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse (CAPA). Ann serves as a unit educator, safety coach and clinical coach for the Ambulatory Surgical Unit Department. She is also cross trained to work in the Outpatient Clinic, Patient Testing and Chemotherapy.

Dana Byrum, DNP, MSN, RN

Dana Byrum, DNP, MSN, RN is the vice president of Patient Care Services for ECU Health Bertie and ECU Health Chowan hospitals. Dana received her associate degree in nursing from Roanoke-Chowan Community College. She received her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in nursing from East Carolina University. Dana joined ECU Health Chowan Hospital in 1996 and began her nursing career there in 2000. Dana has obtained specialty certification in ambulatory care nursing. Dana is a member of several nursing and leadership organizations including the American College of Healthcare Executives and the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Lindsay Caddell, BSN, RN

Lindsay Caddell, BSN, RN is a staff nurse III in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Lindsay has worked in the ECU Health Medical Center NICU for eight years where she started her career as a new graduate nurse. Lindsay earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from East Carolina University. Lindsay serves the NICU as a charge nurse, float nurse, clinical coach and bereavement committee chair. She also serves as a member of the ECU Health Maynard Children’s Hospital interdisciplinary Adverse Drug Event workgroup. Lindsay continues to commit her nursing career to compassionately caring for the smallest patients at ECU Health Medical Center.

Elaine Henry, MSN, RNC-NIC

Elaine Henry, MSN, RNC-NIC is the manager of Children’s Surgical Subspecialists at ECU Health Maynard Children’s Hospital. Elaine has worked at Maynard Children’s Hospital for 27 years with experiences as a staff nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and a Quality Nurse Specialist for Women’s & Children’s division. Elaine earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing and master’s degree in nursing leadership from East Carolina University. Elaine has a specialty certification in Neonatal Intensive Care nursing and is a certified surgical clinical reviewer for the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) Pediatrics program. Elaine is a member of the Eastern NC Nurse Honor Guard.

Donnie Johnson, MSN, RN, NPD-BC

Donnie Johnson, MSN, RN, NPD-BC is a professional development specialist-nursing who works with the Emergency Services Division. Donnie has worked at ECU Health Medical Center for 14 years. Donnie earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing—and master’s degree in nursing, nursing education—from East Carolina University. Donnie has obtained specialty certification in Nursing Professional Development.

Jennifer Kendrick MSN-NE, RN, C-EFM

Jennifer Kendrick, MSN-NE, RN, C-EFM has been the Perinatal Outreach Coordinator for ECU Health since 2018. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from University of Western Ontario in Canada before moving to North Carolina to begin her career in Women’s Health. Jennifer received her master’s degree from UNC Wilmington and is currently pursuing her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Jennifer received specialty certification in fetal monitoring from both the National Certification Corporation (NCC) and Perinatal Quality Foundation. Jennifer is an active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics Advisory Group and has volunteered her time to review the upcoming editions of Association of Women’s Heath, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses Electronic Fetal Monitoring courses.

Katie Knowles, MSN, RN, CNL

Katie Knowles, MSN, RN, CNL is a quality nurse specialist III and has served her community at ECU Health Duplin Hospital for 10 years. Katie received her associate degree from James Sprunt Community College in Kenansville, NC, her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Mount Olive in Mount Olive, NC, and her master’s degree in nursing from UNC-Pembroke in Pembroke, NC. Katie has obtained a specialty certification as a Clinical Nurse Leader and mentors aspiring clinical nurse leaders across the state. Katie is a passionate advocate for community and rural health and is actively involved with both local and national organizations dedicated to improving health outcomes in under-resourced communities and faith-based communities.

Kimberly Lupton, MSN, RN, CCM

Kimberly Lupton, MSN, RN, CCM is an assistant nurse manager for Central Staffing Nursing Assistants at ECU Health, adjunct Instructor for Pitt Community College and health service coordinator for Spring Arbor Assisted Living. She has worked at ECU Health Medical Center for 11 years and as a nurse for 37 years. Kimberly earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from East Carolina University and her master’s degree from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. She obtained her certification in Case Management through the Commission for Case Managers. Kimberly exhibits exemplary transformational leadership qualities that inspire others to grow professionally and serves the needs of patients, families and her community with excellence.

Emily Nock, BSN, RN

Emily Nock, BSN, RN is a staff nurse III on the Neuroscience Intermediate Unit at ECU Health Medical Center. Emily has been with ECU Health Medical Center for nine years, serving as an RN on 3 North for seven of those. Emily earned her bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University in 2016. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2014.

Chelsey Owens, ADN, RN

Chelsey “Alex” Owens, ADN, RN is a staff nurse III in the Neuroscience Intermediate Unit. Alex has worked at ECU Health Medical Center for seven years. Alex received her associate degree in nursing from Beaufort County Community College in Washington, NC. Alex is the CAUTI champion for her unit and has received stroke response team certification.

Rhiannon Stallings, MSN, RNC-MNN

Rhiannon Stallings is the Perinatal Nurse Navigator for ECU Health Medical Center. She works with high-risk pregnant patients throughout the region to ensure they have appropriate consultations and follow-up during pregnancy, and also provides patient and team member education. Prior to this role, Rhiannon was a staff nurse for the Mother/Baby and Antepartum unit. Rhiannon received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from UNC-Chapel Hill and her master’s degree in nursing education from Barton College. She is certified in Maternal Newborn Nursing and is active in the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses.

Jenny Wester, BSN, RN, CPN

Jenny Wester is an assistant nurse manager on Pediatrics at ECU Health Maynard Children’s Hospital. Jenny has worked on Pediatrics for 25 years. Jenny earned her associate degree in nursing from Pitt Community College and her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Fayetteville State University. She has obtained specialty certification in pediatric nursing as well as the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON) Pediatric certification in pediatric chemotherapy and biotherapy.

Kiera Slade, RN is a travel nurse who previously worked on the Cardiovascular Intermediate Unit (CVIU) at ECU Health Medical Center.

Awards | Nursing

Although Ellen Walston, the Injury Prevention Coordinator at the Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program (ECIPP) at ECU Health Medical Center, is no stranger to winning awards and giving presentations about injury prevention, she was no less thrilled to learn she was named the 2022 Safe Kids Coordinator of the Year.

“You’re nominated by your peers, and it’s a big deal,” she said of the award. “I’m blessed to be recognized.”

Walston has been with ECU Health for 31 years, the first 14 of which she served as an oncology social worker. Although she loved that role, she moved into injury prevention in 2006. ECU Health supports her in this role, but for every project she undertakes, she must seek external funding.

“If I want to do a water safety program, I have to write a grant,” Walston said. But, she added, the effort is worth it. “All of my work is to teach children and their parents about safety and to prevent unintentional injuries. My goal is to keep kids out of the hospital.”

Walston also serves as the Safe Kids Pitt County Coalition Coordinator.

Ellen Walston, Injury Prevention Coordinator for ECIPP, poses for a photo after winning the Safe Kids Coordinator of the Year award.

“We have 50 coalitions in North Carolina, and we’re part of a worldwide network of more than 300 coalitions,” Walston explained.

An award-winning career

The work she’s done in these roles hasn’t gone unnoticed. She also received the Safe Kids Coordinator of the Year Award in 2013, and the coalition won Coalition of the Year awards in 2010 and 2021: That’s four awards in 17 years.

These achievements wouldn’t be possible without partnerships, and Walston said she has friends all over the state and country to partner on projects.

“You have to share your successes and what you’ve learned, and give tools to others,” Walston said. “If you have something that works, share it. I never tell anyone no.”

One of those partnerships has been with the Greenville Traffic Safety Taskforce, which was created out of necessity when the then-Greenville police chief approached Walston and her manager, Sue Anne Pilgreen, with concerns about car crashes.

“In 2018, we were number one in the state for crashes in cities our size. The chief wanted a new way to prevent these crashes so we put together the taskforce,” Walston said. “I was thrilled he was so forward thinking.”

From there, Walston helped build a multidisciplinary team of high-level leaders, including the hospital police chief, the ECU Health vice president from design and construction, Greenville traffic safety engineers, the ECU police chief, NCDOT and the Greenville police traffic safety sergeant.

“We then became an official Vision Zero community, one of only 12 in the state,” Walston said.

Vision Zero’s goal is to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries by improving the roadway environment, policies and related systems. The taskforce quickly began environmental modifications, such as high visibility crosswalks, modular medians and delineator systems in center turn lanes, throughout the city. They are currently seeking federal funding to install a High-Intensity Activated CrossWalk (HAWK) to help pedestrians cross the street more safely.

The outcomes of this taskforce were seen immediately; “In 2020 we went from number one in the state for crashes to number seven, and in 2021 we were number eight,” Walston said. Because of their work, the taskforce won the 2019 North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program Community Collaboration Award. In 2022, they won the Safe States Injury and Violence Prevention Achievement Award, and in 2023 they won the inaugural North Carolina Vision Zero Safety Award. Walston adds that another national award will be announced this year.

Sharing knowledge with others

Walston is eager to share her knowledge with others, and she’s done so through publications and conference presentations. She co-authored articles published in the November 2021 International Association of Chiefs of Police Journal and Exploring Perspectives – ECU Health Medical Center Journal, both addressing the evolution of Greenville’s Traffic Safety Taskforce.

She is also a veteran conference presenter.

“My husband says I go on my rock star tour,” she laughed when talking about her annual conference schedule.

This summer, she presented in Concord and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and she’s slated to present in Washington, D.C.; New York City; and Denver, Colorado. The Washington, D.C. conference, the Safe Kids Worldwide Conference, is especially significant.

“That’s an international conference and I’m giving three presentations. It’s a big deal to break into that conference,” Walston said.

Walston said she loves to share knowledge to help others.

“It brings me great joy to bring positive attention to our hospital and community,” she said. “I want this work to be replicated everywhere, because we all have a mission to keep people safe.”

She also said what she learns at these conferences, she then applies to her work in here in eastern North Carolina.

“When I see something that works, I’m going to do whatever it takes to bring it to the community,” Walston said.

In addition to her passion for safety, Walston said implementing safety changes is a part of her legacy.

“There are mounted speed boards around school campuses in Greenville, for example,” Walston said. When I drive by one of those, I think I can’t wait to tell my grandchildren that I was instrumental in getting those put in place.”

Ultimately, Walston’s goal is to make Greenville, the surrounding communities and the state safer.

“It hurts my heart when there are preventable injuries, and I don’t want that for families,” she said. “I’ve been touched by severe injuries and deaths and I am always looking for ways to reduce risks.”

Awards | Community

NAGS HEAD, N.C. — The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announced that The Outer Banks Hospital received a 5-star rating in both the Physician Communication and the Nurse Communication categories.

The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) utilizes these star ratings to summarize the patient experience, which is one aspect of hospital quality. The ratings are based on surveys that patients take after receiving care.

“The 5-star rating is the highest rating and it underscores the focus that Outer Banks Health places on the patient experience,” noted Kimberly Hardman, director of experience. “We know that listening to the patient and addressing concerns with compassion and high-quality treatment leads to better outcomes.”

“Our physicians and nurses are among the best of the best with only five North Carolina facilities achieving the 5-star rating in both categories,” said Ronnie Sloan, FACHE, president of Outer Banks Health. “It isn’t just about our commitment to delivering quality care. It’s about delivering quality care with compassion and our nurses and providers deliver it every single day.”

Awards | Community

Kenansville, N.C. — The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that ECU Health Duplin Hospital received a 5-star rating in the Physician Communication category.

CMS uses the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Survey to determine and publicly report star ratings for 10 measures regarding patient experience — communication with doctors is one of the measures. The HCAHPS survey is administered to a random sample of patients after their hospital stay and consists of 29 questions. The physician communication star rating is determined using three questions that focus on how well patients feel their doctors listened carefully, explained things and treated them with courtesy and respect.

“Our community is fortunate to be served by such a knowledgeable and caring group of providers,” said Dr. Chad Kornegay, chief of the medical staff, ECU Health Duplin. “I’m proud of our team and the fact that we were one of seven North Carolina hospitals recognized for physician communication and one of 357 hospitals recognized nationwide.”

“The providers here at ECU Health Duplin Hospital are some of the best in the country and they have truly earned this five-star rating,” said Jeff Dial, president of ECU Health Duplin. “Our team has set a high standard of performance for themselves and it is no surprise that we are seeing these results. They provide high-quality, respectful and compassionate care to every patient, every day.”

Awards | Community

Ahoskie, N.C. ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan Hospital has earned recertification as a primary stroke center by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, recognizing the hospital’s preparedness and expertise to care for stroke patients.

“I am proud of ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan’s team members and their commitment to provide high-quality stroke care to our patients and community,” said Brian Harvill, interim president of ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan, president of ECU Health Chowan Hospital and ECU Health Bertie Hospital. “Our hospital’s stroke recertification as a primary stroke center from The Joint Commission – and stroke readiness at each ECU Health hospital – represents ECU Health’s dedication to bringing a comprehensive stroke network to care for all patients across eastern North Carolina.”

Stroke is a leading cause of death in North Carolina and the leading cause of long-term disabilities. As a primary stroke center, ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan can treat and stabilize patients experiencing an acute stroke and care for more complex cases. Located in Ahoskie, North Carolina, ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan serves a rural community and is the closest emergency department for surrounding communities. As a resource for emergency care, ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan’s recertification ensures local community members have access to timely stroke care and extends the comprehensive stroke network capable of meeting the needs of all patients across eastern North Carolina.

The likelihood of having a stroke in North Carolina is significantly higher than the rest of the country as a whole. North Carolina is about 8 percent worse for stroke mortality than the national average, and in eastern North Carolina, that risk is even greater.

“Time is the most important factor when treating a stroke, so it is critical to provide stroke care close to home,” said Dr. Barry Bunn, regional emergency department medical director, ECU Health. “With eastern North Carolina’s high rates of stroke, ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan’s stroke recertification, combined with a network of stroke readiness at all ECU Health hospitals, reduces the time of treatment, the risk of mortality, permanent brain damage and other side effects including memory loss, difficulty speaking and potential paralysis.”

During the certification process, ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan was evaluated on performance measures in stroke care, including education for patients and families on stroke risk factors and recognizing symptoms of stroke. Other performance measures included staff education on stroke protocols and the appropriate prescription of medications to address stroke risk factors such as elevated cholesterol and blood pressure.

Awards | Health News | Neurology