Greenville, N.C. – ECU Health is pleased to announce Eric J. DeMaria, MD, as chair of the Department of Surgery for the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and chief of surgery for ECU Health. Dr. DeMaria has served as the Interim Chair of the ECU Department of Surgery since January 2023 and will officially begin his new role serving both ECU Health and the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University on Monday, April 1.

“Dr. DeMaria’s appointment as chair of the Department of Surgery for the Brody School of Medicine at ECU and chief of Surgery for ECU Health improves avenues for collaboration and building a high-quality clinical and academic culture to meet the needs of eastern North Carolina,” said Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of ECU Health and dean of the Brody School of Medicine. “With proven experience in surgical excellence and leadership, Dr. DeMaria’s leadership and expertise will be instrumental in achieving our collective goal of becoming a national academic model for rural health care.”

Dr. DeMaria joined East Carolina University in 2018 as professor and chair of the Division of General and Bariatric Surgery. He has held many academic and clinical roles within the enterprise including senior medical director and vice chair of clinical operations for the Department of Surgery, and most recently as interim chair of the ECU Department of Surgery since January 2023.

In this new role, Dr. DeMaria will be responsible for helping create strategy for delivering surgical services across the system, ensuring the delivery of safe, efficient and high-quality surgical services and the recruitment of surgeons to meet this need. As department chair, he will be responsible for graduate medical programs, the academic pursuits in surgery and the oversight of the ECU Health Physicians Surgeons.

“I am excited to serve eastern North Carolina as chair of the Department of Surgery for the Brody School of Medicine at ECU and chief of surgery for ECU Health,” said Dr. DeMaria. “During my time here, I have had the opportunity to connect rural health care and academic medicine, and I look forward to continue bringing high-quality care to eastern North Carolina as an elite academic medical institution. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the high-quality surgeons, care teams, professors and students who personify the important work we do to meet the surgical needs of the region.”

Dr. DeMaria received his medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine and completed general surgery training at Brown University. He served on the faculty of the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia becoming the founding director of the VCU Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) Center and established one of the first MIS fellowship training programs. Dr. DeMaria’s other appointments include Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Surgery at Duke University, bariatric surgery practice at WakeMed, Director of Bariatric Surgery at Maryview Medical Center and staff bariatric surgeon Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital.

Dr. DeMaria is internationally recognized for his contributions to bariatric surgery, advanced laparoscopy and minimally invasive surgery. He is an author, speaker and lecturer, who holds numerous leadership positions within societies, boards and committees across the globe.

Press Releases | Surgery

Pictured Tess Judge, Outer Banks Health board chair, Lynne Miles, FACHE, administrator of regional operations, Walter Holton, MD [retired], Barbara Holton, and Ronnie Sloan, FACHE, president.

Manteo, NC – March 21, 2024 – Outer Banks Health celebrated a significant milestone on March 19 as it broke ground for the expansion of its Family Medicine practice in Manteo. The groundbreaking ceremony was a momentous occasion coinciding with the 22nd anniversary of the opening of The Outer Banks Health Hospital on March 19, 2002.

The expansion project aims to double the size of the existing building, creating a 7,500-square-foot facility dedicated to providing primary care services to the community. With more than 16,000 primary care patients currently served by Outer Banks Health, the Manteo practice stands as the second largest in Dare County, with 3,600 patients, second only to the organization’s primary care practice in Kitty Hawk.

Ronnie Sloan, FACHE, president of Outer Banks Health, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to enhance health care services in Dare County, stating, “We have been fortunate enough over the last year and a half or so to recruit six additional providers to Dare County for primary care.”

Pictured Tess Judge, Outer Banks Health board chair, Lynne Miles, FACHE, administrator of regional operations, Walter Holton, MD [retired], Barbara Holton, and Ronnie Sloan, FACHE, president.
Pictured left to right are Tess Judge, Outer Banks Health board chair, Lynne Miles, FACHE, administrator of regional operations, Walter Holton, MD [retired], Barbara Holton, and Ronnie Sloan, FACHE, president.

Sloan also highlighted the visionary leadership of Walter Holton, MD, one of the first full-time physicians in Dare County.

“You know, at the end of the day, we couldn’t do any of this without this man here, this physician, Dr. Holton, who came here in 1974 and worked here for 40-plus years and then turned over the reins,” Sloan said. “He had this vision himself. I’ve seen it on paper, to expand this clinic one day.”

The new building’s entrance will face the highway, and is being built to enhance accessibility for individuals with physical disabilities, a crucial aspect of Outer Banks Health’s dedication to ensuring access to care for all members of the community.

Outer Banks Health remains steadfast in its commitment to the community. The expansion of the Family Medicine practice in Manteo along with the recent opening of the state-of-the-art Cowell Cancer Center, reflects Outer Banks Health’s ongoing commitment to advancing health care delivery and meeting the evolving needs of the residents and visitors of Dare County and the surrounding region.

For more information about Outer Banks Health and its services, please visit To find a primary care provider, call the Primary Care Access line at 252-449-4540.

Family Medicine & Primary Care | Press Releases

Greenville, N.C. ECU Health Medical Center has been nationally recognized in Becker’s Hospital Review as the top hospital in the country for patient experience, according to a new ranking from PEP Health. PEP Health analyzed more than 30 million online patient reviews from hospitals across the country in 2023.

According to Becker’s, PEP Health extracts behavioral insights data from patient comments shared on multiple social media and review platforms. Hospitals with at least 300 staffed beds and at least 250 patient experience comments were assessed across seven domains: fast access, effective treatment, emotional support, communication & involvement, attention to physical and environmental needs, continuity of care, and billing and administration.

“At ECU Health, creating positive patient and team member experiences is at the heart of who we are as a mission-driven organization,” said Dr. Julie Kennedy Oehlert, chief experience officer, ECU Health. “Our continuous journey toward excellence in patient care is informed by the perspectives of our patients and driven by the hearts of our team members. Our patients know that ECU Health team members are here to care for them with compassion and respect. It is gratifying to know our intentional focus on creating safe, healing environments is affirmed by the feedback of those we are honored to serve. We are incredibly grateful to our patients for their honest review of the care we provide.”

ECU Health’s commitment to creating positive patient experiences can be seen across the health system. The Outer Banks Hospital achieved 5-star status in overall patient experience in 2023 and ECU Health Bertie Hospital met requirements for 5-star status as well from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 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 fill out after their inpatient stay and are designed to help patients choose excellence in health care. The HCAHPS survey captures the patient’s experience of communication with doctors and nurses, responsiveness of hospital staff, communication about medicines, cleanliness and quietness of the hospital, discharge information, transition to post-hospital care and overall rating of the hospital.

ECU Health’s providers also play an important role in supporting excellence in patient experiences. In the clinic setting, 99% of ECU Health providers are rated by their patients as 4.0 or higher out of 5 stars, with 96% of those providers being 4.5 stars or higher, according to Press Ganey LLC. ECU Health’s providers’ overall ranking as a medical group for excellence in care is 4.7 out of 5 stars based on patient reviews from Healthgrades, Google, WebMD, Wellness, Vitals and more.

“I am proud of the doctors, nurses and all team members who work tirelessly to deliver highly-reliable, human-centered care to eastern North Carolina,” said Brian Floyd, chief operating officer, ECU Health. “The experiences we create within our health care settings can leave lasting impressions on those we serve. I am fortunate to witness ECU Health team members in action every single day, and their role in compassionately caring for our community members – often during their most difficult moments – is central to our mission of improving the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.”

Community | Health News | Press Releases

An ECU Health team member moves a patient to a room. The patient sits in a wheelchair and smiles up at the care team member.

Greenville, N.C. – As part of ECU Health’s commitment to investing in the success and well-being of its team members, the health system has increased the starting wage from $15/hour to $16/hour. Additionally, Outer Banks Health will increase its starting wage from $17/hour to $18/hour.

“As a mission-driven organization committed to improving the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina, ECU Health is proud to invest in the success and well-being of each of our team members,” said Kelly Weatherly, vice president of Human Resources operations at ECU Health. “This starting wage increase is a reflection of our deep appreciation for the efforts our team members make to provide excellent care for the communities we serve every single day. We are excited to continue to implement more initiatives aimed at building and investing in our high-quality workforce.”

An ECU Health team member moves a patient to a room. The patient sits in a wheelchair and smiles up at the care team member.

ECU health will also include pay adjustments for team members who earn less than the new minimum wage or those with experience at ECU Health earning $16 – $19.99/hour before the new starting wage takes effect. These efforts to remain market competitive will help ECU Health attract and retain highly qualified, passionate team members to eastern North Carolina.

These compensation increases are part of several initiatives underway focused on reinvesting in team members and ensuring ECU Health is meeting – or exceeding – the competitive market rates for the work team members do every day.

To learn more about opportunities to work at ECU Health, please visit

Press Releases

The Carol S. and Edward D. Cowell, Jr. Cancer Center is shown from across the street in Nags Head.

NAGS HEAD, N.C. — Jan. 30, 2024 — Outer Banks Health is proud to announce the opening of the Carol S. and Edward D. Cowell, Jr. Cancer Center, a 15,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility made possible through the collaboration of Outer Banks Health, ECU Health, Chesapeake Regional Healthcare and the generous support of the Outer Banks community. The center opened its doors to patients on January 29, 2024.

This momentous occasion marks the culmination of years of dedication, perseverance, and community support. Outer Banks Health initiated the endeavor in 2015 with a vision to create a cutting-edge facility that would serve as a beacon of hope and healing for cancer patients on the Outer Banks and the surrounding region.

“The completion of the Cowell Cancer Center was made possible through the unwavering determination of the Outer Banks Health Development Council,” said Ronnie Sloan, FACHE, president of Outer Banks Health. “The council is comprised of dedicated individuals who share a passion for enhancing healthcare in the region and it played a pivotal role in bringing this ambitious project to fruition.”

The Carol S. and Edward D. Cowell, Jr. Cancer Center is shown from across the street in Nags Head.

Led by radiation oncologist, Charles Shelton, the new center boasts a dedicated team, including a director, radiation therapists, a radiation nurse, a genetics extender, a physicist, a dosimetrist, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, LPNs and RNs, lab technicians, navigators, a social worker, a practice manager, and patient access representatives. While the search for a permanent medical oncologist continues, Dr. Michael Spiritos, formerly of Duke Health, has agreed to serve in that capacity on an interim basis along with Dr. John Barton. Katie Caton, FNP is also on staff as a permanent provider.

Of the 1300 critical access hospitals nationwide, Outer Banks Health Hospital is one of only eight accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons and is also distinguished as the only one in the country with an accredited breast program. This notable achievement reflects the commitment of Outer Banks Health to maintaining the highest standards of cancer care.

Outer Banks Health remains focused on expanding its list of services and programs to meet the evolving healthcare needs of the community. The organization’s goals include delivering excellent care locally and collaborating with health organizations throughout North Carolina and Virginia to ensure residents and visitors can access the best possible care.

For more information about the Cowell Cancer Center or to inquire about services, visit or call (252) 449-7272.

Cancer | Community | Featured | Press Releases

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

Greenville, N.C. – As part of its continued evolution to become the national model for rural academic health care, ECU Health today announced new leadership roles and responsibilities intended to further enhance the organization’s transformation as a rural health care leader.

Effective Feb. 5:

  • Brian Floyd, RN, MBA, will dedicate his efforts to his role as ECU Health’s chief operating officer (COO), providing strategic oversight of the health system enterprise and its day-to-day operations. He will have heightened focus on creating seamless interoperability within the health system and ensuring we are operating, performing and providing care as one team.
  • Jay Briley, MHA, FACHE, current president of ECU Health Community Hospitals, will transition to president at ECU Health Medical Center, reporting directly to Floyd as COO.
  • Van Smith, MBA, MSHA, current executive vice president of ECU Health Medical Center, will transition to president of ECU Health Community Hospitals, reporting directly to Floyd as COO.

Additionally, Tara Stroud, DNP, APRN, NNP-BC, NEA-BC, current senior administrator of Children’s Services at Maynard Children’s Hospital, will become vice president for Maynard Children’s Hospital, Women’s Service Lines and Community Health Programs upon Kim Crickmore’s retirement departure date of Feb. 26.

“These leaders’ unique expertise in driving operational and clinical excellence, financial stewardship and leading complex health care environments are at the forefront of these proposed – and ultimately enthusiastically embraced – leadership appointments,” said Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of ECU Health and dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. “I look forward to working closely with these leaders and remain focused on steering the enterprise toward our vision, including strengthening our academic mission, advancing our synergies as well continuing to build partnerships across the state.”

Brian Floyd

Jay Briley

Van Smith

Tara Stroud

Community | Press Releases

A team gathers to discuss patient care at the ECU Health heart center.

Roanoke Rapids, NC — Tiffany J. Mose, MHA, FACMPE, CPC, administrator, regional operations, ECU Health Medical Group, has been named a Fellow in the American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE). ACMPE is the certification entity of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). Fellowship in ACMPE’s industry-leading program demonstrates mastery and expertise in the profession of medical practice management.

Tiffany J. Mose, MHA, FACMPE, CPC

To achieve Fellowship, Mose first earned the Certified Medical Practice Executive (CMPE) designation by passing examinations that assess knowledge of the broad scope of medical practice management, as outlined in the Body of Knowledge for Medical Practice Management. This includes business operations, financial management, human resources management, information management, organizational governance, transformative health care delivery, quality management and risk management. In addition, Mose completed a minimum of 50 continuing education credit hours to achieve CMPE status. To earn Fellowship, Mose demonstrated leadership, innovation, and professional engagement in the health care industry and the advancement of the medical group management profession.

Today, MGMA membership is comprised of more than 6,600 individuals who have attained CMPE or ACMPE Fellow status or who seek certification.

Mose has worked at ECU Health North for more than 15 years and worked in the field of health care for more than 25 years. Mose is directly responsible for oversight and management of the operations, development, expansion and financial viability of the ECU Health Medical Group ambulatory practices and hospital-based provider groups in the Roanoke Rapids market. She also serves on multiple interdisciplinary teams in the organization to include the Coastal Plains ACO’s Board of Directors, Finance and Quality committees.

Community | Press Releases

Greenville, N.C. – ECU Health, the premier academic health system serving eastern North Carolina, experienced a transformational year highlighted by Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, breaking ground on a new behavioral health hospital slated to open in 2025, receiving various accreditations that affirm high-quality care and recognition of multiple team members on the state and national levels, all of which represent the shared commitment of the 14,000-plus team members who live the mission to improve the health and well-being of the region.

“As we reflect on the historic year that was and celebrate our achievements, I am deeply appreciative of the dedicated team members at ECU Health who play an instrumental role in solidifying our identity as a leading rural academic health system committed to serving the vibrant communities of eastern North Carolina,” said Dr. Michael Waldrum, ECU Health CEO and dean of the Brody School of Medicine. “Looking ahead, I know 2024 will be another important year for our health system and medical school as we work to transform rural health care. I am proud of our collective efforts in 2023 which position us to become the national academic model for rural health care delivery. I am confident that our ongoing efforts will continue making a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve.”

The following highlights are only a few of the many achievements across ECU Health in 2023. For a more comprehensive review of the year, please visit:

Improving access to care through key behavioral health partnerships and Medicaid expansion

Improving access to behavioral health care has long been a priority for ECU Health. The organization made important strides in that work over the past year by hosting a mental health town hall with North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Sec. Kody Kinsley in February and breaking ground on a new behavioral health hospital with Acadia Healthcare that will open in 2025.

After more than six years of advocacy, Medicaid expansion is now a reality and could benefit more than 600,000 people in the state, including more than 100,000 people here in eastern North Carolina. ECU Health is passionate about Medicaid expansion because it witnesses first-hand the challenges uninsured and underinsured patients face. With expanded coverage, more patients can receive the care they need to keep them well.

Highlighting collective accomplishments

ECU Health accomplished much in 2023, including:

  • Receiving significant funding for ECU and ECU Health in the state budget to help us realize the mission through:
    • Brody class size expansion
    • the NC Care initiative
    • establishment of a new regional medical examiner’s office
  • Rebranding the ECU Health Foundation
  • Hosting U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means members for a roundtable discussion focused on supporting rural health care
  • Celebrating 75 years of service at Roanoke-Chowan and 10 years of services at Maynard Children’s Hospital addition
  • Honoring 13 nurses named to the North Carolina Great 100 Nurses list
  • Graduating 77 medical students from the Brody School of Medicine

Press Releases

Greenville, N.C. – Gov. Roy Cooper recently appointed Dr. Mark A. Newell, associate trauma medical director and attending surgeon at ECU Health and professor of surgery at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, to serve on the North Carolina Medical Board. Dr. Newell’s term began Nov. 1, 2023, and ends Oct. 31, 2026.

Dr. Mark Newell

Dr. Mark Newell

Dr. Newell is a trauma and critical care surgeon at ECU Health and has published numerous articles, textbook chapters, abstracts, research projects and presentations in his field of expertise. Dr. Newell currently serves as vice chair of diversity in the Department of Surgery at the Brody School of Medicine.

“I am deeply honored to be appointed to serve on the North Carolina Medical Board by Gov. Cooper,” said Dr. Newell. “As part of the North Carolina Medical Board, I am committed to upholding the highest standards of health care. I look forward to bringing my unique health care perspective to this highly esteemed board of dedicated medical professionals.”

The North Carolina Medical Board is an independent public agency that is charged with licensing and regulating doctors, physician assistants and certain other medical professionals on behalf of the state. The Board’s primary mission is to protect the public. It screens candidates for licensure, issues licenses to qualified professionals, develops rules and positions that guide its licensees and, when necessary, disciplines its licensees.

Dr. Newell earned his medical degree at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and completed postgraduate training in general surgery at Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center at New York Medical College in the Bronx, where he was chief resident. He also completed a fellowship in surgical critical care at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, also at New York Medical College. Dr. Newell later earned a Master’s of medical management degree at Carnegie Mellon University. He is certified in surgery and surgical critical care by the American Board of Surgery.

Dr. Newell is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, the American Association for Surgery Trauma and the Society of Black Academic Surgeons, among other organizations.

Community | Press Releases