“It was very nerve wracking coming here,” said Denique Barnett, a pediatric rehab nurse at the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital and international nurse at ECU Health. “I’m an only child, so leaving my family in Jamaica was very hard.”

For Barnett, pursuing her passion has been a journey of more than a 1,000 miles.

“The welcome that I received was a good one,” Barnett said.

The warm reception Denique received is one ECU Health offers nurses from around the world as part of the International Nurses Program.

“My passion is pediatrics, but specifically neonatal nursing,” Barnett said. “Back home there is no degree program for neonatology. So I decided that, you know, to further my studies and to self-actualize, I would need to come to the United States.”

Not only does the program foster additional growth and training for participants, it also fills an important recruiting need for the health system.

“We bring international nurses from all over the globe to come to our organization to spend about two years in a clinical environment,” said Charlene Wilson, chief people officer of ECU Health.

Launched in November 2019, 175 nurses from 21 countries have since spent time at ECU Health.

“Even though these are nurses that are seasoned nurses, they have to go through our NCLEX,” Wilson said. “They then go through the immigration process. They then begin to understand the culture of the various hospitals that have openings for international nurses. One of the things that is very different about their practice here versus their practice in their home countries is the technology.”

“At first, you know, getting used to just how things are done here using technology for me, that was a bit of a challenge,” Barnett said.

“I’m always told by the clinicians, including the doctors, that one of the things that is fascinating about what they bring is their analytical skills, because they don’t have the technology that we have here in the United States,” Wilson said.

It’s a unique perspective put to work for a common goal, improving the health and well-being of the region these nurses now call home.

“As an international nurse, making the leap is the best decision that you will make. There is a lot of opportunities for growth,” Barnett said. “There are a lot of benefits to being here at ECU Health, you know, just make the leap, come, you won’t be disappointed.”

Featured | Health News | Nursing

Leaders of Pitt County’s Health Sciences Academy are working hard to give students the real-life skills needed to succeed in the work world—thus fueling the talent pipeline for our state’s employers.

While labor shortages have been prevalent across all industry sectors in recent years, it has been particularly acute in the health care industry and even more so in our state’s more rural communities. However, for Pitt County, this program has brought a tangible solution for training the next generation of health care talent in the Greenville area.

The Health Sciences Academy is a curriculum program, which was created to expose and prepare Pitt County high schoolers who wish to pursue a health care-related career after graduation.

Photo Courtesy of NC Chamber

During high school, students participating in the program complete a minimum of six courses that prepare them for various health careers. As part of their program experience, students can participate in job shadowing, mentoring, internships, medical research opportunities, career exploration, and volunteering at ECU Health. In addition to ECU Health, the school system works in tandem with East Carolina University Division of Health Sciences, Brody School of Medicine, the ECU Dental School of Medicine, Pitt Community College, Eastern Area Health Education Center, and the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce.

“When people think of health care, they think of doctors and nurses,” said Reed Potts, Health Sciences Academy Coordinator. “Doctors and nurses only make up 30% of the health care workforce, so there are many more jobs out there that the kids do not know about.”

The program, which began in 2000, currently has approximately 1,000 student enrollees, and works with high school students exploring all pathways including two- and four-year colleges, trade school, the military, and others. Potts expressed pride that 30 members of the program’s current cohort will be first-generation college students.

“Seeing a career firsthand — you’ll know whether or not it’s for you,” said Lisa Lassiter, director of workforce development at ECU Health. “We had a student who was set on being a labor and delivery nurse, but after a firsthand experience through Health Sciences Academy, she adamantly decided it was not for her anymore. That’s valuable too, because if she hadn’t had that opportunity, she never would have known until her junior year of college during clinicals.”

Potts said that standalone career nights are extremely beneficial to recruiting future students into the program because they can touch, see, and feel medical equipment and talk to staff about potential careers firsthand. They are also now starting recruitment efforts even earlier among middle schoolers.

To participate in the Health Sciences Academy, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA, have a clean disciplinary record and complete 25 hours of volunteer hours per year. There are also two dedicated counselors that work directly with Health Sciences Academy students and travel to all of Pitt County high schools.

In this program, students learn many soft or durable skills, including leadership, critical thinking, accountability, and communication, and they also get other important training such as etiquette lessons, resume building, and ACT and SAT workshops.

Potts stated that there has been a major return on investment as this program expands the talent pipeline in the Greenville area. “Roughly 50% of the students who go through the Health Sciences Academy stay in the area and go to East Carolina University,” he said. “And we anticipate seeing that number go up even more.”

He also attested that every single student who goes through the program goes to a two- to four-year college, trade school or the military.

When asked what recommendations they would make to other counties looking to implement similar programs, both Potts and Lassiter discussed the importance of constant two-way dialogue between the health system and school system, to ensure the needs of both parties are being met.

“Having direct communication with the school system has been extremely beneficial because we can discuss what’s going great and how to mitigate certain challenges,” said Lassiter. “As a result, we have this very well-trained future pipeline.”

She also stated that many people may be turned off by the cost of a similar program but suggested that other schools and health systems can start small by using time as a resource or having exposure activities that do not cost money.

Read more on NCChamber.com.

Community | Featured

Windsor, N.C. – ECU Health is pleased to announce ECU Health Bertie Hospital has been named a 2022 Human Experience (HX) Guardian of Excellence Award® winner for physician engagement by Press Ganey, the global leader in health care experience solutions and services. This award is part of Press Ganey’s annual ranking of the top hospitals and health systems in the country, according to performance in physician engagement.

“It is an honor to receive this award on behalf of the dedicated team members who make ECU Health Bertie a top performing hospital for physician engagement,” said ECU Health Bertie Hospital President Brian Harvill. “It takes a dedicated group of individuals working together to care for a community. I could not be more proud of the ECU Health Bertie doctors, nurses and support staff who work tirelessly to provide excellent patient-centered care to those we are honored to serve.”

As a winner of the Press Ganey HX Guardian of Excellence Award®, ECU Health Bertie is in the top 5% of health care providers in physician engagement in the last year. Press Ganey works with more than 41,000 health care facilities in its mission to reduce patient suffering and enhance caregiver resilience to improve the overall safety, quality and experience of care.

“By putting their patients and workforce first each and every day, ECU Health Bertie Hospital is demonstrating their unwavering commitment to their employees and to the communities they serve,” said Patrick T. Ryan, chairman and chief executive officer, Press Ganey. “The caregivers at ECU Health Bertie have inspired us with the compassion, empathy and human connection they bring to the clinical healthcare setting. We are honored to partner with them as we celebrate their achievement.”

Team member engagement is central to how ECU Health creates positive experiences and delivers upon its mission to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina. Per fiscal year data, ECU Health Bertie providers rated their engagement better than the national average in all five key engagement performance indicators: engagement, alignment, safety, resilience and diversity.

“As an organization dedicated to providing rural health care, ECU Health understands that exceptional patient experiences are created by compassionate, energized and engaged teams,” said ECU Health Chief Experience Officer Dr. Julie Oehlert. “This award from a globally recognized health care leader like Press Ganey is a testament to our whole team which goes above and beyond to overcome the challenges we face and ensure communities across our region have access to high-quality compassionate care they deserve.”

To learn more about ECU Health Bertie Hospital, visit ECUHealth.org/Bertie

Awards | Featured | Press Releases

Greenville, N.C. – The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a quality program administered by the American College of Surgeons, has granted accredited status to ECU Health Medical Center for the ninth year. Patients receiving care at a NAPBC-accredited center have access to information on clinical trials and new treatment options, genetic counseling, and patient-centered services including psychosocial support, rehabilitation services and survivorship care.

“ECU Health serves a vast rural region burdened by high prevalence of chronic diseases including cancer,” said Brian Floyd, chief operating officer of ECU Health and president of ECU Health Medical Center. “Our partnership with the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University allows us to provide research and clinical trials for patients, as well as recruit high-quality cancer care providers, both of which largely contribute to our accreditation. Bringing standardized, quality care close to home for the 1.4 million people we serve helps us meet our mission of improving the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.”

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for women in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The even higher prevalence of cancers in eastern North Carolina highlights the importance of having an accredited cancer care center in the region. Access to preventative screenings and early detection allows for less invasive treatments, a greater variety of options and a greater potential to prevent the spread of breast cancer.

“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. Emmanuel Zervos, executive director of cancer services at ECU Health, and professor at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. “Patients with breast cancer at ECU Health benefit from a robust team of disease site specialists in surgery, oncology and radiotherapy who are committed to working together to provide the type of care this important designation represents. I am grateful to our ECU Health team members and new breast cancer program leader, Dr. Karinn Chambers, for not only adhering to these standards but surpassing them.”

Accreditation by NAPBC is granted to programs proven to provide the best possible care to patients with breast cancer. To achieve voluntary NAPBC accreditation, a breast center demonstrates compliance with the NAPBC standards that address a center’s leadership, clinical services, research, community outreach, professional education and quality improvement for patients. Breast centers seeking NAPBC accreditation undergo a site visit every three years.

To learn more about breast cancer screenings and treatment options near you, please visit ECUHealth.org/breast-cancer.

Cancer | Featured | Press Releases

Greenville, N.C. ECU Health, the premier health system serving eastern North Carolina, experienced a transformational year highlighted by the introduction of a new brand, announcement of a new behavioral health hospital, recognition of multiple team members on the state and national levels and realization of clinical achievements and innovations that enhance the care for the 1.4 million people the organization proudly serves.

“As we reflect on the historic year that was and celebrate our achievements, I want to take a moment to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the team members who make ECU Health what it is: a premier rural academic health system dedicated to serving the people who call eastern North Carolina home,” said Dr. Michael Waldrum, ECU Health CEO and Dean of the Brody School of Medicine. “As one year comes to a close and another begins, I know the next chapter of our shared story will be just as important. Our efforts in 2022 helped position us to navigate the complex challenges we face moving forward by bringing clinical, education and research innovations, but we still have work to do in the upcoming year and beyond to ensure our communities have access to the high-quality care they deserve.”

The following highlights are only a few of the many achievements across ECU Health in 2022. For a more comprehensive review of the year, please visit: ECUHealth.org/YearinReview2022

Evolving to ECU Health

The re-brand to ECU Health is a visual reminder of how transformative the year has been. The ECU Health logo is a symbol of the commitment to transforming and elevating health care for millions, training the providers of tomorrow, collaborating with community partners to solve complex issues and bringing clinical innovations that improve the lives of those who call this region home.

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and the health system began a joint operating agreement on Jan. 1, 2022. In April, the two organizations hosted a press conference and shared the new logo for ECU Health and announced the brand launch that would begin in May.

In the months since, there have been visual changes across the health system from signage around hospitals and clinics to websites and social media channels. More importantly, the creation of ECU Health has opened the door for the system to improve access to care across eastern North Carolina while training health care professionals through Brody.

Expanding access to behavioral health care in eastern North Carolina

Access to behavioral health care is crucial across the country, but especially in rural areas like eastern North Carolina. In June, ECU Health and Acadia Healthcare announced plans to build a state-of-the-art, 144-bed behavioral health hospital in the medical district of Greenville, less than a mile from ECU Health Medical Center.

Slated to open in spring 2025, the hospital will operate through a joint venture between ECU Health and Acadia, the largest standalone provider of behavioral health care services across the United States. Together, the organizations will invest approximately $65 million in expanding behavioral health resources in eastern North Carolina.

The hospital will include 24 inpatient beds specifically for children and adolescents with mental health needs. These beds will be the first of their kind in ECU Health’s 29-county service area and the only child and adolescent beds within 75 miles of Greenville, North Carolina.

Twenty-two ECU Health nurses recognized among Great 100 Nurses of North Carolina

This year, 22 ECU Health nurses were selected to the 2022 NC Great 100. This is the largest number of ECU Health nurses to receive this recognition. The honorees were celebrated at a gala hosted by The North Carolina Great 100, Inc. in Greenville in October.

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. Out of thousands of nominations that are submitted annually, 100 recipients are selected based on their outstanding professional abilities and contributions made to improving health care services to their communities.

ECU Health Beaufort Hospital designated as primary stroke center by The Joint Commission

In July, ECU Health Beaufort Hospital – a campus of ECU Health Medical Center was designated as a primary stroke center by The Joint Commission and the American Heart/Stroke Association, recognizing the hospital’s preparedness and expertise to care for stroke patients. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the state, resulting in more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease.

With ECU Health Beaufort’s designation, all ECU Health’s hospitals are stroke certified by The Joint Commission.

Community | Featured | Health News | Press Releases

Greenville, N.C. ECU Health’s EastCare team was awarded MedEvac Transport of the Year by the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) for their initial transport of East Carolina University freshman Parker Byrd and subsequent transports throughout his recovery. The EastCare air medical team, Steve Bonn, pilot, Henry Gerber, EMT, Milando Stancill, EMT, Leigh Ann Creech, communication technician, Jessica Rispoli, flight RN and John vonRosenberg, flight paramedic, accepted the award on Oct. 26 for their efforts rendering life-saving care to Byrd.

On July 23, 2022, Byrd, an incoming freshman and baseball player at ECU, was boating in a remote creek when his legs were cut by the propeller, resulting in severe trauma. A friend and teammate was able to pull him back in the boat and immediately applied a makeshift tourniquet. First responders on the scene recognized the severity of his injuries and requested air medical transport. The EastCare air medical team jumped into action, rendering life-saving trauma care on the flight to ECU Health Medical Center, the only Level 1 Trauma Center east of Raleigh.

“EastCare team members dedicate themselves to ensuring the people of eastern North Carolina who live in vast, rural areas have access to timely and life-saving care,” said Trey Labreque, director of EastCare. “Thanks to the quick actions of everyone involved, including Beaufort County EMS for their initial response and clear communications with the flight crew, the transition of care was quick and efficient, and the patient made it to the trauma center stabilized, which is our objective as a flight team. This award is testament to all EastCare team members who live the ECU Health mission.”

Quick actions by the flight crew dramatically improved Byrd’s vital signs prior to arriving at ECU Health Medical Center. Flight nurses administered plasma, blood products and treatment for traumatic hemorrhagic shock during the air transport. In the following weeks, due to the severity of injury, the EastCare team provided Byrd transportation to the wound care center twice daily, multiple times per week to receive specialized care and hyperbaric treatments at ECU Health’s Wound Healing Center.

“The EastCare team has been nothing but phenomenal to me,” said Byrd. “From day one, they were doing their job to the best of their ability. I want to thank each and every person on the EastCare team for what they have done for me.”

Byrd was discharged in mid-August, nearly one month after his injury. After 22 surgeries and a partial leg amputation, Byrd continues to undergo outpatient care and rehabilitation in his recovery process. Byrd plans to continue classes at ECU and practice with the baseball team while he undergoes rehabilitation.

Please join ECU Health in recognizing the EastCare team for their rescue of Byrd and their efforts to render emergency care to all patients across eastern North Carolina.

Awards | EastCare | Emergency & Trauma | Featured | Press Releases

ECU Health is thrilled to celebrate the winners of the first annual Patient Choice Awards. These prestigious awards recognize teams that have the highest and most improved patient experience ratings in their care delivery category for “Creating a caring environment that helped me heal.”​ Hospitals also received awards for patient ratings in cleanliness and “Courtesy of a person who served me food.”

Throughout November, the Office of Experience traveled eastern North Carolina to host award ceremonies presenting the FY22 Patient Choice Awards. The winning teams were excited to be recognized by their patients, and leaders were so proud to celebrate this accomplishment with their teams!

One of the highest honors in health care is being recognized and appreciated by patients and families. The Patient Choice Award winners and finalists exemplify ECU Health’s mission and values through compassionate, human-centered care. Their patients have acknowledged the genuine impact of this care and of the loving environment they create every day.

Congratulations to FY22 Patient Choice Award recipients:

ECU Health Medical CenterNeuroscience ICU

Top Performing Inpatient Unit for Creating a Caring Environment that Helps Heal

Patient score rating: 89.5%

ECU Health Beaufort HospitalRadiation Oncology

Top Performing Outpatient Unit for Creating a Caring Environment that Helps Heal

Patient score rating: 96.7%

ECU Health Edgecombe HospitalAmbulatory Surgery Unit

Top Performing Ambulatory Surgery Unit for Creating a Caring Environment that Helps Heal

Patient score rating: 87.3%

ECU Health Bertie HospitalEmergency Department

Top Performing Emergency Department for Creating a Caring Environment that Helps Heal

Patient score rating: 63.2%

ECU Health Infectious DiseaseGreenville

Top Performing Medical Group for Creating a Caring Environment that Helps Heal

Patient score rating: 99.7%

The Outer Banks Hospital

Top Performing Hospital for Courtesy of a Person Who Served Food

Patient score rating: 73.3%

ECU Health North Hospital

Top Performing Behavioral Health Unit for Creating a Caring Environment that Helps Heal

Patient score rating: 72.2%

Most Improved Behavioral Health Unit for Creating a Caring Environment that Helps Heal

Patient score rating: +1.9%

ECU Health Home HealthKenansville

Top Performing Home Health for Creating a Caring Environment that Helps Heal

Patient score rating: 84.5%

Most Improved Home Health for Creating a Caring Environment that Helps Heal

Patient score rating: +6.3%

ECU Health Bertie Hospital

Top Performing Hospital for Cleanliness

Patient score rating: 91.5%

Most Improved Hospital for Cleanliness

Patient score rating: +9.7%

ECU Health Medical Center2 North Medicine

Most Improved Inpatient Unit for Creating a Caring Environment that Helps Heal

Patient score rating: +15.9%

ECU Health Edgecombe HospitalRadiology Diagnostic

Most Improved Outpatient Unit for Creating a Caring Environment that Helps Heal

Patient score rating: +16.6%

ECU Health Chowan HospitalAmbulatory Surgery Unit

Most Improved Ambulatory Surgery Unit for Creating a Caring Environment that Helps Heal

Patient score rating: +8.5%

ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan HospitalEmergency Department

Most Improved Emergency Department for Creating a Caring Environment that Helps Heal

Patient score rating: +8.6%

ECU Health General Surgery – Tarboro

Most Improved Medical Group for Creating a Caring Environment that Helps Heal

Patient score rating: +21.3%

ECU Health also recognized a number of teams from across the health system as finalists for Patient Choice Awards.

Awards | Featured

Greenville, N.C. – Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of ECU Health and dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, assumed the role as chair of the Council of Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems (COTH) Administrative Board for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), effective Nov. 12, 2022. In addition to his chair role, Dr. Waldrum is also a voting member of the AAMC Board of Directors.

COTH members include CEOs, presidents, and other executives who lead the AAMC’s nearly 400-member teaching hospitals and health systems. They concentrate on issues specific to academic medicine, such as demonstrating its value and societal good; financing graduate medical education; funds flow and enterprise-wide mission alignment. Dr. Waldrum is a leading voice in advocating for policies promoting and enhancing academic health care and in particular, rural academic health care.

“Dr. Waldrum has clearly earned the respect of hospital executives and leaders in academic medicine across the country as he was selected for this leadership role by his peers,” said Rosha McCoy, MD, AAMC acting chief health care officer. “As an AAMC council, COTH is one of the crucial professional development groups for the association, bringing together the highest tiers of leadership from academic medical centers. Dr. Waldrum has shown a deep commitment to patients and communities, with a particular focus on rural communities, a passion for academic medicine, and an excellent ability to navigate tough challenges. We are thrilled to have him as chair of the COTH Administrative Board and look forward to working with him over the coming year.”

Health care in America faces significant and unique challenges and it’s even more difficult in rural areas of the country where 183 hospitals have closed their doors since 2005, according to a recent UNC Sheps Center report. The impacts of a global pandemic combined with a high burden of disease, vast geographical areas, traditionally underserved communities and a high reliance on government pay requires innovative solutions, difficult decisions and importantly, the need to develop and train health professionals committed to rural health care. In eastern North Carolina, academic medicine is how ECU Health strives to sustain quality rural health care now and into the future and achieve its vision to become the national model for rural health care.

“It’s an honor to work collaboratively with other leaders across the nation who are committed and passionate about academic health care,” said Dr. Waldrum. “I understand the important responsibility and opportunity I have to highlight and advocate for the future of health care in rural America. I appreciate my peers for entrusting me with the opportunity to bring my unique perspective to the AAMC Council of Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems.”

The AAMC leads and serves the academic medicine community to improve the health of people everywhere. Founded in 1876 and based in Washington, D.C., the AAMC is a not-for-profit association dedicated to transforming health through medical education, health care, medical research, and community collaborations.

Community | Featured

ECU Health Beaufort Hospital, a campus of ECU Health Medical Center, hosted free community health screenings, produce giveaways and educational information at its first fall harvest event at the new community garden and outdoor classroom on Nov. 18.

The community garden and outdoor classroom, located next to the ECU Health Wellness Center in Washington was made possible — in part — by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the garden was developed by the ECU Health Patient Education team in collaboration with ECU Health Beaufort Hospital. Internal partners include the ECU Health Beaufort Hospital Food & Nutrition Services team, Community Health Improvement team, Volunteer Services, the Wellness Center, and Facilities & Properties.

“It has been wonderful working with such an innovative team,” said Tammy Thompson, director of Experience Engagement, Education and Design at ECU Health. “They have been true partners throughout entire process.”

Sowing the seeds for health and well-being

Over the summer, the garden started to take shape, resulting in 10 raised beds for vegetables, two large metal planters for herbs, fencing, a shed and space for community members to come together and learn outdoors. The hospital planted the first crops in September for the first harvest event.

Pam Shadle, director of Marketing, Community Outreach and Development at ECU Health Beaufort Hospital, said the opportunity to come together as a team and create something that will benefit the community has been a great experience.

“It’s been a labor of love since the creation of the idea,” Shadle said. “So many of our team members from various departments came together to make this happen, so it’s been a great opportunity for our folks to get involved and I really appreciate that.”

Shadle said the community garden and outdoor classroom is an integral addition to their community health improvement plan for Beaufort and Hyde county residents. While they already feel the great impact of existing programs on community health, the garden will help create new opportunities and help improve those established programs, Shadle said.

Beyond the harvest

The ECU Health Food and Nutrition Services team joined the event and shared easy-to-make recipes inspired by the garden’s produce — which includes vegetables and herbs like broccoli, collards, kale, lettuce, rosemary and thyme. Along with the opportunity to take home fresh, free produce, clinical teams were on hand to offer health screenings for community members, and the Wellness Center team shared information about lifestyle medicine and other services to support community wellness.

“It’s just a great complement to include these offerings because what we’re trying to do is not solely about food,” Dr. Thompson said. “We call these living-learning labs because of the interactive engagement to support healthy lifestyles. This is an opportunity for community members to receive a variety of information and resources for better health.”

ECU Health Chief Experience Officer Julie Oehlert, DNP, RN, said the garden is an important step in the community health work in eastern North Carolina.

“We’re so proud of the teams that made this garden a reality,” Dr. Oehlert said. “It’s going to benefit community members, team members and patients in the hospital and I think it’s really special for us to connect with the communities we serve in this way. We’re excited to offer something unique for Washington and Beaufort County and I know we’re going to learn so much from this project.”

Planning your visit

The garden will be open to community members from 9 a.m. to noon each Wednesday and Friday where any produce ready to be harvested will be distributed and other educational materials will be shared.

Community | Featured | Health News | Wellness

Pediatric patients at the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at ECU Health Medical Center got a little taste of Halloween as they had the chance to dress up and see ECU Health team members and community groups participate in a parade.

During the parade, floats with team members dress up as everything from Disney’s Up characters to safari themes poured by while patients and families had an opportunity to step outside of their rooms and enjoy some fresh air on a warm afternoon.

Quionna Lofton, the mother of pediatric patient Emoni Salvant, said it was a great experience for her and her daughter.

“It makes me feel really good,” Lofton said. “I didn’t think she would get to experience Halloween today because we are here. This is very nice and well thought out, it was just very lovely.”

Emoni said her favorite float was the Trolls characters and her mother agreed, since she got to see her daughter’s smile light up as it came by.

Various community partners came out to bring a little joy to the youngest patients at ECU Health Medical Center. The Greenville Fire Department brought two trucks to the parade while the Pitt County Sherriff’s Office showed off a safari-themed float. The Down East Wood Ducks baseball team mascot, DEWD, gave patients a big wave from the back of a Jeep while ECU’s mascot, PeeDee the Pirate, interacted with patients and families.

Karolyn Martin, Miss North Carolina 2022, was on hand for the parade as well. She said it was a great experience, and a personally meaningful cause for her.

“My younger sister actually has Crohn’s Disease,” Martin said. “When she was diagnosed, she was in a hospital for about eight months of her year in 8th grade. I know how important it is for families to have people come that care about their children and also to celebrate the people that are making sure children are safe and healthy – that’s so important and why I was so excited to be here.”

Patients had the opportunity to select a costume from those available in the Maynard Children’s Hospital and got to select a party favor, including books and other fun activities.

Chloe Williams, a Child Life intern who helped organize the event, said it was special to see the smiles on the faces of patients and families after the time spent planning.

“I think it’s great. I think it provides a sense of normalization to the hospital experience, because a lot of the time they don’t get to have a Halloween if they’re here,” Williams said. “Just to provide something that they can enjoy and the parents can enjoy, too, is a really special thing.”

Williams said it’s also something team members look forward to each year. Whether they are dressing up and riding along on a float or out in the sea of children, it’s a welcomed opportunity to see patients in their natural setting – enjoying time as a kid.

Children's | Community | Featured