Greenville, N.C. – June 30, 2021 – ECU Health Medical Center (VMC) is participating in TAKEHeart, a national initiative funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, to make a positive impact on the lives of patients by encouraging greater participation in cardiac rehabilitation. The initiative will help easily connect patients with cardiac rehabilitations services to improve their heart health and reduce the risk of future heart issues. As a TAKEHeart partner, VMC cardiac and pulmonary team members will receive advanced training, coaching and technical support as well as shared learning about cardiac rehabilitation best practices.

“Patients are more likely to survive an acute heart episode when they engage in cardiac rehabilitation,” said Stacey Greenway, director of cardiovascular disease management programs at VMC. “We know that only a small percentage of patients complete cardiac rehabilitation. Participating in TAKEHeart means bringing best practices and strategies in cardiac rehabilitation to Vidant and eastern North Carolina to improve outcomes for patients suffering from a cardiac episode.”

Approximately 1 million Americans have a coronary event or surgery each year, but only 20 percent are referred to cardiac rehabilitation. Among Medicare-eligible heart attack patients, only 6.5 percent complete the recommended cardiac rehabilitation sessions. Cardiac rehabilitation eases patients into heart-healthy exercises, nutrition education and education on how to manage risk factors such as stress. People who have cardiac rehabilitation after a heart episode have lower mortality rates, fewer hospital admissions and readmissions and higher quality of life.

The eastern North Carolina population faces a disproportionate risk of heart disease. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, patients who complete cardiac rehabilitation sessions have a 47 percent lower risk of death and a 31 percent lower risk of a heart attack than those who attend only one session.

“One of the most important benefits to patients participating in a cardiac rehabilitation program is learning how to take charge of their own health and become more engaged partners with their health care team,” Dr. Noel Peterson, cardiologist at Vidant Health, said. “Our care teams are excited to continue to partner with patients and provide advanced cardiac rehabilitation services to eastern North Carolina.”

Cardiac rehabilitation is a combination of medical care and counseling to improve cardiovascular health after a heart attack, heart failure, angioplasty, or heart surgery has taken place. It may include exercise counseling and training, lifestyle education (e.g., nutrition and reducing risk factors) and efforts to manage stress.

“It is broader than just diet and exercise,” said Greenway. “Factors like learning how to be more proactive about health and providing better access to resources can make an impact. Living in a rural area can create a barrier to resources, which makes these initiatives so critical to this region. By providing improved access to rehabilitation services, we can help patients find creative ways to improve their heart health through ongoing education and lifestyle changes.”

Heart and Vascular | Press Releases

Hand enters combination on a digital lock of a safe's door

Hand enters combination on a digital lock of a safe's doorGreenville, N.C. – June 21, 2021 – Vidant Health, the Eastern Carolina Injury Prevention Program (ECIPP), Veteran’s Affairs (VA) and the Greenville Police Department (GPD) are proud to announce the formation of the Pitt County Firearm Safety Coalition (PCFSC), a non-partisan, apolitical group with the goal of reducing injuries and death from firearm violence through education and safe storage techniques.

PCFSC will partner with stakeholders representing various sectors in the community, including the VA, GPD, East Carolina University, health care providers, Child Protective Services, Pitt County Health Department, faith-based groups, wildlife and hunting organizations, gun manufacturers and schools to identify solutions and impactful interventions.

“Firearm injuries have increased at an alarming rate in our state and in our region in recent months,” said PCFSC member Dr. Shannon Longshore, who serves as medical director of Injury Prevention and Pediatric Trauma for ECIPP. “We know each injury and each life lost is devastating to our community. The Pitt County Firearm Safety Coalition works together to prevent firearm injuries with proven solutions such as safe handling and storage and by addressing issues we see locally.”

Firearms are among the top five leading causes of injury-related deaths and account for half of all suicides, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Safe storage of firearms decreases the risk of accidental discharge by a child. Additionally, evidence suggests those living in households where firearms are stored and locked have a lower risk of suicide than those where firearms are stored unlocked.

“Increasing the time and distance between someone with suicidal intent and firearms can reduce suicide risk,” said PCFSC member Tiffany Chavis, senior social worker, suicide prevention coordinator, Durham VA Health Care System. “Providing education and resources to keep firearms safely secured, especially during mental health crises, is crucial in reducing the number of suicides. The Pitt County Firearm Safety Coalition demonstrates how well partners can work together for shared purpose, even if the populations differ.”

PCFSC has launched a firearm safety awareness campaign: “Lock It For Love – Firearm Safety is OUR Responsibility” to encourage the safe storage of firearms in order to reduce the number of firearm injuries in the region. GPD recently partnered with Project ChildSafe to get free gun locks, which will be distributed to local firearms owners/families.

“As police officers we often encounter people during some of the worst times of their lives, but our jobs take on an entirely new meaning when a child loses their life, especially to unnecessary gun violence,” said Chief Mark Holtzman of GPD. “The Greenville Police Department is humbled to be a partner in the Pitt County Firearm Safety Coalition to raise awareness for this very important cause. There is strength in numbers, and the safety and well-being of the members of our community is truly a collaborative effort. Together, we hope to make a difference and save lives.”

Community | Press Releases

Charlene Wilson and Mark Dunn

Greenville, N.C. – June 9, 2021 – Vidant Health is pleased to announce that effective June 21, Charlene J. Wilson, Ed.D(c), MPA, CCP will assume the role of Chief Human Resources Officer and Mark F. Dunn, CPC, MSL will become Vidant’s first Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Talent Management Officer. These decisions were made following an extensive interview process with members of the Vidant Health Board of Directors and leaders from across the organization.

“This is an exciting time for our organization as we continue to make important strides in our mission to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina,” said Vidant CEO Dr. Michael Waldrum. “Both Charlene and Mark understand the importance of Vidant’s role as a major employer in the region and our commitment to recruiting and retaining high-quality team members. I want to thank John Marques, who will be retiring at the end of June, for his leadership as Chief Human Resources Officer over the past six years and for building a solid foundation upon which we can continue to grow.”

Incoming Chief Human Resources Officer

Charlene Wilson

Charlene J. Wilson

As incoming CHRO, Wilson will oversee and provide strategic direction for the teams and programs within, HR Service Delivery, Talent Acquisition, HR Information Systems, Total Rewards, HR Business Partners and Team Member Relations.

“I am honored to step into the Chief Human Resources Officer role,” said Wilson. “At Vidant, we know high-quality team members are the driving force behind high-quality care. Our patients, their families and the communities we serve depend on us to provide the best care possible. I am proud to work on behalf of our 13,000 team members to ensure Vidant is a premier employer not just in the region, but in the state.”

Joining Vidant in 2016, Charlene has served as Vice President of Human Resources for ECU Health Medical Center and was appointed as Vice President, HR Business Partners in August 2020, leading and collaborating with HR leaders and teams in a variety of initiatives including HR transformation, operational efficiency across the system and workforce strategy and management.

With over 20 years of experience in human resources leadership, Wilson has worked at hospitals and health systems across the country. She received her bachelor’s degree from Hampton University and her master’s degree from Villanova University. Charlene is currently pursuing her doctorate in organizational leadership from Grand Canyon University.

New Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Talent Management Officer

Mark Dunn

Mark F. Dunn

Over the past five years, Vidant has placed a continued focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. As Chief Diversity, Inclusion and Talent Management Officer, Dunn will lead Vidant’s diversity, equity and inclusion vision and strategic direction by collaborating with several functions within the organization and out in communities across the region to align and implement inclusive-focused initiatives and programs.

In his new role, Dunn will continue to lead Organization and Leadership Development and Workforce Experience and Development. These teams contribute to building an engaged workforce culture by focusing on the equitable development of team members within Vidant.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to lead the organization in the areas of diversity, inclusion and talent management,” said Dunn. “This work is one of my life’s passions and I am excited to step into this position where I will lead with a servant’s heart and collaborate with key partners to reach the organization’s equity and inclusion goals.”

Dunn joined Vidant in 2019 as the Vice President of Organization and Leadership Development, which led to additional oversight of Talent Acquisition as well as partnering with Office of Experience in the equity and inclusion space.

He has family ties to eastern North Carolina and received his bachelor’s degree from University of North Carolina, along with his master’s degree in leadership and organizational change from Pfeiffer University. Prior to joining Vidant, Dunn led the functions of talent management and learning and organizational development within the higher education and health care industries.

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“I have learned a lot of real-world skills including proper cleaning and sanitizing methods as well as made a lot of new friends at my internships,” said Neil Williams, a Project SEARCH student. “My next steps are to work on getting my license, a job and a house.”

The Project SEARCH program at VMC began in 2015 through partnerships with Pitt County Schools, RHA Health Services and Vocational Rehabilitation. Students complete internships in various departments at VMC, including Central Services, East Carolina Heart Institute Cafeteria, the Main Cafeteria, Endoscopy Center, Grounds, Environmental Services and the Neuroscience Intermediate Unit.

“Project SEARCH gives us an opportunity to teach students trades and help them become employable,” said Tommy Cox, director of Community Employment Services at RHA Health Services, and a member of the VMC Project SEARCH Advisory Committee. “Project SEARCH at VMC brings diversity to the local workforce and makes a positive impact on the region economically. These students have completed three rigorous internships at Vidant during a pandemic and have grown tremendously. My greatest joy is to see them become employed.”

Students who participate in the program are enrolled at various Pitt County high schools including J.H. Rose, D.H. Conley, South Central, Farmville Central, North Pitt and Ayden-Grifton. Completing the program helps students transition into the workforce through employment and skill development and a customized job search in the second half of the program.

The employment rate for youth with disabilities is about 60 to 70 percent less than youth without disabilities, according to the Office of Disability Employment Policy. Many of the program’s graduates have gained competitive employment in the local community upon graduating from the program, and the program continues to help students become employed beyond graduation. The class of 2021 is the sixth class to graduate from the program.

The Project SEARCH program began in 1996 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and is now an international program with over 400 sites in existence now in at least 45 states and with programs in England, Scotland, Ireland and Canada.


Project SEARCH students (from left) Tolbert Wangila, Nick Smithson, Neil Williams, Eric Kenney and Kahlil Green graduated after completing three internships at ECU Health Medical Center during the school year.

Project SEARCH Vidant students (from left) Tolbert Wangila, Nick Smithson, Kahlil Green and Neil Williams at their graduation ceremony on June 1, 2021.

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An EastCare team member prepares for a shift

An EastCare team member prepares for a shiftGreenville, N.C. – June 2, 2021 – Vidant Health is proud to announce that EastCare – the premier medical transportation agency in the region – recently became one of the first medical flight programs in North Carolina to carry O Negative Whole Blood, which will help improve patient survivability in eastern North Carolina. Whole Blood contains all the components of blood that the body loses during trauma events and helps replenish all necessary blood components.

“Vidant Health serves a vast rural environment with long distances in between towns and sometimes between providers,” said Chuck Strickland, Outreach Coordinator. “Trauma patients often need immediate treatment, and that’s what the O Negative Whole Blood allows us to do. Helicopters carrying O Negative Whole Blood can increase the chance of survivability of trauma patients in eastern North Carolina while being transported from these rural areas to hospitals.”

O Negative is the rarest blood type and compatible with all other blood types, making it an important life-saving intervention for those suffering from serious traumatic events. EastCare collaborated with the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University to obtain the O Negative Whole Blood from the American Red Cross.

Recent studies show that patients who receive Whole Blood products early typically require less blood transfusions while in the hospital. This may also improve 24-hour patient survival by 23 percent and reduce the patient’s length of stay, according to a recent study.

“O Negative Whole Blood is vitally important to our collective mission because it is a universal donor,” said Dr. Darla Liles, ECU Professor of Medicine and Chairman of the Vidant Patient Blood Management Committee. “This blood can be administered quickly in the field when a patient has suffered a serious trauma and is bleeding too rapidly to make it back to the hospital. Our Vidant Patient Blood management committee is thrilled to work with EastCare to create this unique program, which has the potential to save lives here in eastern North Carolina.”

O Negative Whole Blood is carried on all 5 EastCare helicopters and can be utilized on ground ambulances as needed. In addition to the Whole Blood innovation, EastCare will continue to carry Fresh Plasma and Packed Red Blood Cells.

EastCare | Press Releases

Lab samples

Lab samplesGreenville, N.C. – June 1, 2021 – Vidant Health is proud to announce a new collaboration with Mayo Clinic Laboratories that gives Vidant access to Mayo Clinic’s extensive menu of primary reference laboratory tests and clinical expertise, adding to its state of the art laboratory capabilities. Through this collaboration, Vidant is furthering its mission by providing immediate, curated access to complex tests performed by Mayo Clinic to eastern North Carolinians.

Through its worldwide network of more than 4,000 clients, Mayo Clinic Laboratories enables hospitals, medical centers, and health care organizations around the world to send tests to the laboratories of Mayo Clinic, which are some of the most sophisticated in the world.

As a uniquely rural academic health care system, Vidant is constantly seeking new innovations to bring world class health care to eastern North Carolina. Vidant’s extensive laboratory services and locations will continue to perform the vast majority of tests. The collaboration with Mayo provides Vidant additional data and insights into certain tests and further strengthens the health system’s current advanced testing capabilities.

“This is an exciting time for both the present and future of health care in eastern North Carolina,” said Dave Harlow, vice president of operations – allied health, Vidant Health. “The COVID-19 pandemic taught us the importance of continuing to build our state-of-the-art lab infrastructure to ensure those we serve have access to the tests they need. This new collaboration with Mayo Clinic Laboratories will further enhance our already advanced testing services and will help inform the future of complex testing here at Vidant. This benefits all of eastern North Carolina.”

Vidant’s access to Mayo Clinic Laboratories’ test menu further strengthens Vidant’s ability to provide the highest quality laboratory testing for eastern North Carolina resulting in faster results for patients. Community members can continue to rely on Vidant’s enhanced testing capability for access to quality care close to home.

Specimens taken at any Vidant patient service center will be transported via air to Mayo Clinic Laboratories, with test results often available the following day through an interface. Additionally, Mayo Clinic physicians and scientists in every specialty laboratory will collaborate with the Vidant team regarding test selection, utilization and methodologies, and result interpretation.

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“May 12 is National School Nurse Day, so there is no better time to celebrate the incredible work that our school nurses do in Pitt County Schools,” said Catherine Nelson, senior administrator of community health at VMC, and a founding member of the School Health Program. “They have helped us safely mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while getting our students back in school for in-person learning, and continued to excel in their daily case management among students.”

Vidant launched the program in partnership with the ECU College of Nursing, Pitt County Public Health and Pitt County Schools in 1996. The program has grown from six registered nurses at 19 elementary schools to 21 nurses at 39 schools. The School Health Program was recognized by VMC in March 2021 for having the most certified nurses in an ambulatory care setting. School nurses complete daily tasks from overseeing the administration of medications to performing life-saving measures.

“At Pitt County Schools we value our partnership with Vidant and consider ourselves fortunate to have the terrific team of nurses to serve our students throughout these past 25 years,” said Karen Harrington, Director of Student Services. “The demands on school nurses continue to increase annually but never before have we been challenged to this level. This year, our nurses never stopped working – even when the rest of the system was in quarantine – and their efforts and time this year have not gone unnoticed. Not only have our nurses supported student health but they are a valuable resource to our staff. Please take time to thank a school nurse this week. And thank you to Vidant for your continued partnership.”

Press Releases

The safety of wellness members and guests, as well as Vidant team members, is Vidant’s priority. As a health care organization dedicated to serving and caring for the community, we will continue to place safety at the forefront of all decisions.

Based on widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the communities where the centers are located, Vidant has made the decision to resume the Centers’ exercise and aquatics serves with strict safety guidelines in place.

Following safety and sanitation protocols, including screening, masking, distancing, disinfecting and hand washing, all those who enter the facilities will also be expected to follow the below guidelines:

  • Complete COVID-19 screening upon entrance.
  • Wear an approved mask at all times, covering nose and mouth, except when swimming or showering.
  • Check in and out of each visit to track capacity and enable members to choose less busy times.
  • Maintain a minimum of six feet social distancing throughout the center and classes.
  • Observe and comply with the capacity limits posted throughout the facility.
  • Wipe down equipment before and after use.
  • Sanitize and wash hands often.
  • Bring your own towel.

Vidant’s ability to keep Wellness Centers operational during the pandemic depends on all members following the above guidelines. Like all businesses and facilities, Vidant will pause operations in the event of suspected COVID-19 spread at a Wellness Center location. Visit to stay up to date on the latest information.

The Vidant Wellness Center in Greenville will reopen later this year as a destination facility for Vidant’s wellness and outpatient rehabilitation services, once renovations are complete.

New member enrollment for the Vidant Wellness Center in Ahoskie or Washington will be available starting June 1 at

While Wellness Center members are not required to be vaccinated for COVID-19, Vidant Health strongly encourages all community members to get vaccinated to protect yourself and those around you. Schedule your vaccine appointment today at

The exercise opportunities and social support the Wellness Centers provide is vital to physical and emotional health. Together, we remain committed to meeting the health care needs of eastern North Carolina and improving the health and well-being of the region.

Press Releases

Vidant team members pose with Stop the Bleed kits.

“The school nurses have been instrumental in getting their school staff trained and prepared for the use of Stop the Bleed kits,” Erika Greene, pediatric trauma program manager for Maynard Children’s Hospital at ECU Health Medical Center, said. “We have expanded our outreach to Wayne County Schools while working towards our goal of providing education and placement of Stop the Bleed kits at each public school within the 29-county Vidant Health region.”

One of the most common contributing factors in trauma-related events is preventable blood loss. Approximately 40 percent of trauma-related deaths worldwide can be attributed to bleeding or its consequence. The items in these kits help control the loss of blood, leading to positive outcomes for those who sustain injuries.

The Stop the Bleed Kits are funded by Children’s Miracle Network along with training in the use of a combat tourniquet provided by Maynard Children’s Hospital. They were distributed to Wayne County Schools with education to ensure schools are prepared in the event of a trauma incident.

The Pediatric Trauma Department of Maynard Children’s Hospital distributed 66 kits to cover the 33 public schools in Wayne County with the assistance of the VMC Trauma Outreach Coordinator.

“Vidant Health provided an awesome comprehensive Stop the Bleed training for the school nurses of Wayne County Public Schools,” said Kim Kennedy, manager of School Health Services for Wayne County Schools. “Thanks to Stop the Bleed and The Children’s Miracle Network, all WCPS campuses will be equipped with tourniquet kits that can be utilized in the event someone suffers severe bleeding. We thank Vidant Health and The Children’s Miracle Network for sponsoring this vitally important project.”

Community | Press Releases

Vidant encourages all community members age 15 and older to complete the CHNA survey and provide meaningful feedback on how Vidant can continue to improve health and well-being in eastern North Carolina. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete and all responses are confidential. Your feedback helps ensure health care needs are met in the 29 counties Vidant serves. The survey is open through June 18.

The full CHNA process involves collection and analysis of a large range of data, including demographic, socioeconomic and health statistics, and most importantly, feedback from community members. The completed CHNA analysis and results serve as the basis for prioritizing methods to meet the community’s health needs in order to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.

The survey is in both English and Spanish and can be found at

Community | Press Releases