Halifax, N.C. – ECU Health proudly joined community officials and business and health leaders at a Medicaid expansion roundtable hosted by U.S. Congressman Don Davis at the Halifax County Health Department Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, followed by a tour of ECU Health North Hospital.

Jay Briley, president of ECU Health community hospitals, and Jason Harrell, president of ECU Health North Hospital, attended the roundtable to offer insights on health issues impacting Halifax County and eastern North Carolina. Officials urged the need for Medicaid expansion, and community leaders offered perspective and insight on how to best advocate for expansion in North Carolina, which would provide invaluable health and economic benefits to communities across the region. With Medicaid expansion, more than 600,000 North Carolinians – 100,000 of whom live in eastern North Carolina – would have access to the affordable health care coverage they need.

“ECU Health is grateful for the opportunity to meet with Congressman Davis and other community leaders to discuss Medicaid expansion and other important health care needs for Halifax County and the region we so proudly serve,” said Briley. “Medicaid expansion is a crucial initiative that would provide numerous benefits for the state, and especially here in rural eastern North Carolina, where we see high rates of chronic diseases and high rates of uninsured patients. Simply put, Medicaid expansion would make an important difference in the lives of so many, and we are committed to advocating for this important measure.”

Following the roundtable, Briley and Harrell welcomed Congressman Davis to ECU Health North Hospital for a tour of the hospital, including the oncology unit and women and children’s unit. During the tour, the leaders discussed how Medicaid expansion and the Healthcare Access and Stabilization Program would help provide much-needed relief for rural hospitals across the state, ensuring that rural North Carolinians have access to high-quality health care.

“Rural hospitals like ECU Health North play a critical role in the communities they serve,” said Harrell. “Our hospital is not only a hub for high-quality care, but it is also the largest employer in the county. Medicaid expansion should be a top priority for the state, and we appreciate Congressman Davis’s efforts to advocate for the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.”

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Community | Health News

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’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 Medical Center

Greenville, N.C. – After an extensive search and interview process with stakeholders across the organization, ECU Health is pleased to announce and welcome Andrew (Andy) Zukowski, MBA, as the health system’s new chief financial officer (CFO), effective Nov. 28.

“It is my great honor to welcome Andy as the next CFO of ECU Health,” said Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of ECU Health and dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. “Andy brings more than 20 years of experience in highly-matrixed health care organizations with expertise in value-based care models and strategic financial planning and analysis that drive positive results. In addition to Andy’s vast financial background, his mission-focused mindset and passion for serving others are attributes we value and are at the core of who we are as ECU Health.”

Financial operations are a critical component of the joint operating agreement between ECU Health and Brody which outlines the goal of establishing a shared leadership and shared services model to support the enterprise. The CFO position will directly report to the health system’s CEO and have additional oversight and responsibility for Brody’s financial services and structure. This structure creates a more effective approach to integrating financial services and realizing efficiencies that will benefit patients and care teams across the organizations.

“This is an exciting time for me personally and professionally,” said Zukowski. “ECU Health and the Brody School of Medicine are both synonymous with rural academic and clinical excellence. I look forward to joining the leadership team at ECU Health to advance the important mission-driven work positively impacting the lives of the 1.4 million people who call eastern North Carolina home.”

Prior to joining ECU Health, Zukowski served as UNC Rex Healthcare’s chief financial officer since 2016. Zukowski’s arrival to ECU Health comes in succession of current CFO David Hughes’ planned retirement Dec. 30 after serving the organization and eastern North Carolina for 25 years.

“David’s leadership and expertise were instrumental in our ability to lay the building blocks that have positioned ECU Health to successfully realize its vision of becoming a national academic model for providing rural health care,” said Dr. Waldrum. “I greatly appreciate David’s contributions to our region and wish him the very best in his retirement.”

ECU Health looks forward to welcoming Zukowski to eastern North Carolina where his expertise, leadership and partnership will help the organization continue to deliver high-quality care as well as educate and train the next generation of health care professionals.

Press Releases

Greenville, N.C. – 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.  

This year, 22 ECU Health nurses have been selected to the 2022 NC Great 100. This is the largest number of ECU Health nurses to receive this recognition. This year’s honorees will be celebrated at a gala hosted by The North Carolina Great 100, Inc. in Greenville on Oct. 8.

ECU Health extends heartfelt gratitude to these nurses for their contributions to patient care and living the ECU Health mission of improving the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.

The ECU Health nurses chosen this year are:

Alyssa Ballestero

Alyssa Ballestero, MSN, RN-BC, APRN, is a staff nurse III in the Neuroscience Intermediate Unit and a nurse practitioner with ECU Health Neurosurgery in Greenville. Alyssa has worked at ECU Health Medical Center for seven years. Alyssa earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Barton College in Wilson, North Carolina and her master’s degree in nursing, family nurse practitioner from Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts. She obtained specialty certification in medical-surgical nursing, as well as certification in emergency neurological life support and the stroke response team. Alyssa is an active member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Cathy M. Bellamy

Cathy M. Bellamy, MSN, RN LNC, is the manager of Education Services at ECU Health Edgecombe Hospital in Tarboro. She has been with the ECU Health system for more than 30 years. She started her career in Surgical Intensive Care at Duke Hospital before joining ECU Health. Cathy has varied experiences in pain management, endoscopy, surgery, orthopedics and pediatrics as a Clinical Manager. For the last 20 years, Cathy has worked in the field of Staff and Professional Development, doing what she loves in her role as a nurse educator with ECU Health Edgecombe Hospital and working on system initiatives.

Marcia Bryant

Marcia Bryant, MSN, RN, NE-BC, is vice president of Clinical Operations and chief nursing officer at The Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head. Marcia earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her master’s degree in nursing from East Carolina University. She was appointed Chief Nursing Officer in 2015, bringing nearly 30 years of nursing experience to the role. Her leadership posts include director of cardiac services for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and administrative supervisor for Emory University Orthopedics and Spine Hospital. She has also held nursing leadership roles at Mission-St. Joseph Health System in Asheville, and ECU Health Medical Center in Greenville. Bryant serves on the Outer Banks Dementia Task Force and led The Outer Banks Hospital to be the first dementia-friendly hospital in the state.

Kristy Cook

Kristy Cook, PhD, RN, IBCLC, is an assistant nurse manager in the Special Care Nursery/Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at ECU Health Medical Center in Greenville. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2009 and completed the BSN to PhD program at East Carolina University in 2019. Kristy began her career in the Newborn Nursery of Pitt County Memorial Hospital 14 years ago as a nurse extern. She has since worked in various units, such as Rehab Spinal Cord Injury, Mother/Baby, Special Care Nursery, and is currently training with the Neonatal Intensive population. She has grown with the organization, remaining at Maynard Children’s Hospital for more than eight years. Dr. Cook has served in numerous roles, including as a volunteen, nursing assistant, staff nurse, charge nurse, quality liaison, breastfeeding champion, lactation consultant and clinical coach.

Jamie Hall

Jamie Hall, BSN, RN, CIC, is an infection preventionist II at ECU Health Medical Center. She has been with the medical center for three years in infection control and prevention. Jamie earned her associate degree in nursing from Cape Fear Community College and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Mount Olive. Jamie started her nursing career as an operating room nurse and later worked as a staff nurse for a colorectal and general surgery outpatient clinic. Jamie is certified in infection prevention and control, is a DAISY Award recipient, a member of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) and serves on the North Carolina APIC Chapter Recognition Committee. Jamie is a co-chair of ECU Health’s central line-associated infections (CLABSI) sub-committee and is involved with system-wide CLABSI quality improvement projects.

Daniel Hill

Daniel Hill, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC was recently the manager of Patient Care Services—Medical Unit at ECU Health Beaufort Hospital, a campus of ECU Health Medical Center. Daniel will continue his tenure as a nurse practitioner at ECU Health Multispecialty Clinic- Belhaven beginning fall 2022. He is a board-certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse and a Family Nurse Practitioner. He began his medical career in the United States Army, serving multiple tours of duty in Iraq as a combat medic. After 15 years of military service, Daniel earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from East Carolina University and a master’s degree in nursing from Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts. He has been with ECU Health since 2019 and has served in various roles, including staff nurse, charge nurse and nursing manager.

Jamie Hoggard

Jamie Hoggard, MSN, RN, CCRN, is a clinical education specialist at ECU Health Roanoke-Chowan Hospital in Ahoskie. She has been with the system since 2009, starting as a nursing assistant before becoming a registered nurse, and has served in her current role for seven years. Jamie earned her bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University and her master’s degree from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is a certified critical care nurse, certified in Nursing Professional Development, a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and a member of the Association for Nursing Professional Development.

Amanda Isbell

Amanda Isbell, CNM, MSN, C-EFM, is a staff nurse with ECU Health North Hospital in Roanoke Rapids, and will continue her tenure as a nurse midwife with ECU Health Duplin Hospital in Kenansville beginning fall 2022.  Amanda has been with ECU Health for 17 years, dedicated to her nursing career in maternal-newborn nursing.  Amanda earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Chamberlain College of Nursing and her master’s degree from Frontier Nursing University with her post-graduate certificate in nurse midwifery.  She is certified in nurse midwifery and fetal monitoring, and is a member of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses; the Association of Certified Nurse Midwives; Sigma Theta Tau; and Phi Theta Kappa.

Patrick M. Jones, RN-ADN, is a staff nurse III in the 3N Neurosciences Unit at ECU Health Medical Center. Patrick has been a nurse for nine years, and served at ECU Health Medical Center for five years. Patrick earned his degree from Pitt Community College in 2013 and practiced nursing in a variety of environments, including nursing homes, home health, and inpatient nursing. Patrick enjoys the positive impact nurses have in caring for patients, families and the community.

Kimberly Lodato

Kimberly Lodato, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is a staff IV nurse on the Medical/Surgical Unit at ECU Health North Hospital. Kimberly has been a nurse for 22 years and has worked on the same unit at the same hospital for the entire time. She graduated with an associate degree in 2000 from Halifax Community College and obtained her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2021 from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Kimberly is a Certified Medical Surgical Nurse and a member of the Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses.

Lawrence Madubeze

Lawrence Madubeze, BSN, RN, is an assistant nurse manager on the Neurosciences Unit at ECU Health Medical Center.  Lawrence has worked at ECU Health for 10 years and in his current role for two years. Prior to his current role, Lawrence served as a cardiac travel nurse and a staff nurse on the Neurosciences Unit. He earned an associate degree from Cape Fear Community College and earned his bachelor’s degree from Fayetteville State University.

Pamela Di Mattina

Pamela Di Mattina, MPH, BSN, RN, is a staff nurse IV in the Palliative Care Unit at ECU Health Medical Center where she has worked for three years. Pam earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2002 from Binghamton University in New York. She is a certified hospice and palliative nurse and was “the most outstanding nurse of the year” as a Vidant Brody Award recipient in 2021. She is the skin champion for her floor and is a member of the Hospice & Palliative Nurse’s Association. Pam is currently enrolled in the Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist master’s program at East Carolina University.

Grayson Moore

Grayson Moore, MSN, MBA, RN, is an education specialist for nursing at ECU Health Medical Center. Grayson has been with ECU Health Medical Center for 11 years and worked in nursing education for the last six years. Grayson earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from East Carolina University, master’s degree in nursing and business administration from University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in nursing practice at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is certified in Nursing Professional Development and is a member of the Association of Nursing Professional Development; the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing; and Betta Gamma Sigma.

Toria Moore

Toria Moore, BSN, RN, is an education coordinator at ECU Health Edgecombe Hospital, where she has worked for 19 years. Toria has been in her current role for more than a year and previously served as a staff nurse in the Emergency Department. She received an associate degree in nursing from Edgecombe Community College and earned a bachelor’s degree from Fayetteville State University. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Nurse Education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Lou Montana Rhodes

Lou Montana Rhodes, MSN, RN, is the vice president for the Office of Experience at ECU Health. Lou has been with ECU Health for 20 years, served as the vice president of nursing in two regional hospitals and worked in the Office of Experience for the last five years. Lou earned her associate degree at Beaufort County Community College, her master’s degree at East Carolina University and will graduate this year with her Doctorate of Nursing Practice focused in Nursing Leadership from East Carolina University. She is a member of the North Carolina Nurses Association, the North Carolina affiliate of the American Organization of Nurse Leaders and the Watson Caring Science Institute. Lou is a member of East Carolina University’s Sigma Theta Tau, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Key Honor Society and the Society for Collegiate Leadership and Achievement. She also serves on the Center for Family Violence Prevention Board.

Meredith Pauli

Meredith Pauli, BSN, RN-BC, is a staff nurse III for the Neurosciences Unit at ECU Health Medical Center. Meredith has worked at ECU Health for seven years. She earned her bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University and is certified in medical surgical nursing.

Erin Pearson

Erin Pearson, BSN, RN, leads clinical performance improvement work throughout the ECU Health system. She is a content expert in central lines and Foley catheters, guiding organizational best practice related to infection prevention. In her role, Erin collaborates with operations, information services and infection control and is responsible for building extensively successful relationships with those partners. She manages the best practice-based auditing program for ECU Health Medical Center in Greenville. Erin is a two-time DAISY Award recipient and has participated in multiple award-winning BSI quality improvement projects.  She’s a recipient of the ECU Health Board Quality Leadership Award; North Carolina Organization of Nurse Leaders, Best Practice Award; and the 6th Annual ECU Health Quality Symposium, Outstanding Podium Presentation Award.

Shannon Powell

Shannon Powell, RNC-LRN, is a staff nurse IV in Special Care Nursery/Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at ECU Health Medical Center. Shannon has been a member of the medical center team for 27 years, beginning her career at the hospital as a nurse extern in Newborn Nursery/Convalescent Nursery. Upon graduation from East Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1996, Shannon transitioned to a registered nurse role. Certified in Low-Risk Neonatal Nursing, Shannon has dedicated her entire career at ECU Health to serving the neonatal population and their families.

Jessica Scheller

Jessica Scheller, MSN, RNC-NIC, ACCNS-N, is a neonatal clinical nurse specialist at the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at ECU Health Medical Center. She has been with the hospital for 17 years and began her nursing career in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She has been in her current role for four years. Jessica earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from East Carolina University. She is a member of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses, National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialist and American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. She has a specialty certification in Neonatal Intensive Care nursing and Clinical Nurse Specialist Wellness through acute care (Neonatal).

Tara Stroud

Tara Stroud, DNP, APRN, NNP-BC, is the administrator for Patient Care Services at the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at ECU Health Medical Center. Tara has been with ECU Health for more than 15 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from East Carolina University and began her nursing career in the Neonatal ICU. Furthering her career, she earned a master’s degree in nursing from East Carolina University, practicing as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, and a doctorate of nursing practice in Executive Nursing Leadership from Baylor University. Tara maintains specialty certifications as a neonatal nurse practitioner and a nurse executive advanced. Tara is a member of the American Organization for Nursing Leadership and the North Carolina Nurses Association.

Beverly Venters

Beverly Venters, MSN, RN, CPHQ, is the director of Quality for ECU Health Bertie Hospital in Windsor and ECU Health Chowan Hospital in Edenton, and director of Nursing for ECU Health Chowan Hospital. Beverly received her associate degree in nursing at College of the Albemarle, bachelor’s degree in nursing at East Carolina University and master’s degree in nursing with an emphasis on Leadership in Healthcare Systems at Grand Canyon University. She started her nursing career in 1995 as a nursing assistant at ECU Health Chowan Hospital. She joined the Quality Department at ECU Health Chowan Hospital in 2006, and began providing leadership for the department in 2008. She is a member of the National Association for Healthcare Quality, the North Carolina Association for Healthcare Quality and serves on the Albemarle Hopeline Board.  She is a certified professional in Healthcare Quality.

Rebecca Williamson

Rebecca Williamson, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is an assistant nurse manager for 4 North Surgery at ECU Health Medical Center. Rebecca has been with ECU Health for 13 years. She earned an associate degree in nursing from Beaufort County Community College and her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is a Certified Med-Surg RN, a DAISY Award honoree, and a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and North Carolina Nurses Association.

Awards | Featured | Nursing | Press Releases

Greenville, N.C. – ECU Health hospitals have received several American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Get With The Guidelines® achievement awards for their work in treating stroke, diabetes, cardiac arrest, heart attack, and heart failure.

These awards recognize the hospital’s commitment to ensuring patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

“ECU Health’s recognition by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association through the Get With The Guidelines® awards further demonstrates our commitment to providing high quality care across the region,” said Teresa Anderson, PhD, RN, NE-BC, senior vice president of quality at ECU Health. “Meeting our mission to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina is about creating solutions for chronic conditions that affect so many in our communities, from children, to adults, to the elderly. I am proud of the care teams recognized for their work in delivering excellent care.”

ECU Health hospitals receiving recognition include:

Hospital

Program

Awards

Stroke

Gold Plus

Target Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll

Stroke

Silver Plus

Target Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll

Stroke

Gold Plus

Target Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll

Stroke

Gold Plus

Target Stroke Elite Plus Honor Roll

Target Stroke Advanced Therapy Honor Roll

Target Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll

Mission: Lifeline STEMI

Gold Receiving

Mission: Lifeline NSTEMI

Gold

Stroke

Gold Plus

Target Stroke Elite Honor Roll

Target Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll

“We are incredibly pleased to recognize ECU Health for its commitment to caring for patients with stroke,” said Steven Messe, M.D., chairperson of the Stroke System of Care Advisory Group. “Participation in Get With The Guidelines® is associated with improved patient outcomes, fewer readmissions and lower mortality rates- a win for health care systems, families and communities.”

Stroke, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which includes heart failure, heart attack and cardiac arrest, are among the leading causes of death in the nation. Cardiovascular disease claims more lives each year than all forms of cancer combined and is a major cause of disability.

The American Heart Association considers diabetes one of the eight major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). In fact, people living with Type 2 diabetes are two times more likely to develop and die from cardiovascular disease, such as heart attacks, strokes and heart failure than people who don’t have diabetes.

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. The severity and likelihood of having a stroke in North Carolina is significantly higher than the rest of the country as a whole.

“These awards are another proud moment for the ECU Health system as it earns the recognition from American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for providing a high level of stroke, diabetes and cardiac care,” said Dr. Niti Armistead, chief medical officer, ECU Health. “We are proud of our care teams for demonstrating best practices and delivering life-saving care for the patients we serve. These awards are a testament to team members across the region who embody ECU Health’s commitment to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.”

Community | Neurology | Press Releases

Taking a swab for coronavirus sample

Greenville, N.C. – With a significant decrease in demand for COVID-19 testing, combined with the extensive availability of other convenient options such as at-home tests, community health departments and physician practices, ECU Health is closing its COVID-19 testing sites effective Friday, July 29. This includes testing sites at 13 ECU Health medical group clinics (formerly Vidant Medical Group) and the drive-thru testing site in Greenville. This decision comes as North Carolina nears the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency, which will be lifted mid-August.

From the onset of the pandemic, ECU Health has placed the health, well-being and safety of eastern North Carolina at the forefront of our COVID-19 response. Once COVID-19 testing capabilities were established, ECU Health heavily invested in building a robust, state-of-the-art testing program. Since launching the testing sites across the region, we have been able to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on our region as well as share this valuable data with community members.

Taking a swab for coronavirus sample

ECU Health established the Greenville drive-thru COVID-19 testing site and regional testing sites when other convenient testing options were not available. These testing sites, which have helped mitigate the spread of COVID-19, served our communities for almost two years. Throughout this time, ECU Health resulted more than 800,000 total tests.

Regrettably, closing the testing sites impacts the employment of 141 team members across the region who were specifically hired to support the health system’s COVID-19 response. ECU Health is providing human resources and talent acquisition support to all team members who are interested in applying for open positions for which they are qualified for within the health system. This includes those who are working in part-time, full-time and supplemental roles related to the system’s initial COVID-19 response efforts.

ECU Health will continue to provide COVID-19 testing, if needed and by appointment, for patients during their scheduled visits at ECU Health primary care offices. Testing will also be available as needed in the inpatient setting.

The community should continue to follow the usual protocols when sick, and seek appointments with their primary care providers. Those strictly seeking a COVID-19 test should not visit the Emergency Department and should instead contact their primary care office or seek alternative testing options.

To find a COVID-19 testing location closest to you, please visit NCDHHS’ Community Access Points website at www.covid19.ncdhhs.gov/FindTests.

Covid-19 | Press Releases

Conceptual rendering of new behavioral health hospital

GREENVILLE, N.C. – ECU Health and Acadia Healthcare announced today plans to build a state-of-the-art, 144-bed behavioral health hospital in the medical district of Greenville, N.C., less than a mile from ECU Health Medical Center. This new facility will be a center of excellence, providing North Carolinians with important access to behavioral health services and treatment from specialized clinical teams in a carefully designed environment.

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

Conceptual rendering of new behavioral health hospital

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.

“This hospital will be a tremendous resource for our patients and our state, and we’re thrilled to bring a partner and a national leader like Acadia to eastern North Carolina,” said Dr. Michael Waldrum, chief executive officer of ECU Health and dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. “Acadia has an established track record of providing high-quality, compassionate care in communities across the country. Together, we will strengthen our level of expertise, implement proven best practices and enhance the quality and number of behavioral health services available to patients throughout the region.”

Prior to the pandemic, nearly one in five North Carolinians were experiencing a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder, according to a report from the North Carolina Institute of Medicine’s Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use. In the last two years, national data indicates a growing trend of depression and anxiety symptoms. This partnership demonstrates a commitment to talking about mental health disorders, normalizing and treating them with the latest science and medicine in appropriate care settings.

“As a clinician, seeing this type of investment and understanding the significant impact it will have on patients is exciting,” said Dr. Syed A. Saeed, an ECU Health board-certified psychiatrist with more than 40 years of experience. “The needs of behavioral health patients differ from other patients and vary widely even within the same diagnosis. This state-of-the-art hospital will allow us to fully meet our patients’ unique needs in a safe, patient-centered environment and ensure clinicians have the resources and training needed to deliver excellent care.”

The new hospital will also serve as a teaching hospital, training students and residents from the Brody School of Medicine, many of whom will go on to practice in eastern North Carolina and carry forth ECU Health’s mission to improve the health and well-being of the region.

“We are always seeking like-minded partners who share our commitment to expanding access to high-quality behavioral health services and transforming the way mental health patients are seen and cared for,” said Chris Hunter, chief executive officer of Acadia Healthcare. “Establishing a center of excellence in partnership with ECU Health presents a unique opportunity for us to support the development of the next generation of behavioral health care workers and clinicians. We’re excited to begin this important work with such a committed, patient-focused partner.”

Construction is expected to begin in 2023, pending standard state and regulatory approvals and gaining a Certificate of Need. To facilitate the development of the new 144-bed behavioral health hospital, ECU Health will transfer 80 of its current behavioral health beds.

To learn more about the potential partnership between ECU Health and Acadia Healthcare, visit
ENCBehavioralHealth.org.

Find more information in our Press Kit.

Behavioral Health | Community | Featured | Press Releases

Washington, N.C.ECU Health Beaufort Hospital – a campus of ECU Health Medical Center has been 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 this designation, all ECU Health hospitals are equipped to provide advanced stroke care in communities across eastern North Carolina.

“Stroke certification from The Joint Commission represents ECU Health Beaufort’s commitment to provide high-quality stroke care to not only patients experiencing stroke symptoms, but to all of our patients,” said Debra Hernandez, president of ECU Health Beaufort. “We are proud of being designated a primary stroke center. The commitment and diligent work of team members across all levels and services made this a reality.”

As a primary stroke center, ECU Health Beaufort can treat and stabilize patients experiencing an acute stroke and care for more complex patients. As part of stroke readiness by all hospitals in the ECU health system, this certification is symbolic of a comprehensive stroke network capable of meeting the needs of all patients across eastern North Carolina.

“Achieving stroke certification for all nine hospitals has been our goal since launching an intentional focus on improving stroke care in eastern North Carolina seven years ago,” said Barry Bunn, chief of medical staff and regional medical director of emergency services, ECU Health. “At the start of this process, ECU Health began a pathway of certifying all of the ECU Health hospitals with some level of stroke certification by the Joint Commission. Stroke certified hospitals were prevalent west of I-95, but there were few certified hospitals in the eastern part of the state. Now, we can proudly say that patients across the region will have access to high-quality stroke care, regardless of where they live.”

Because time is one of the most important factors in treating stroke, it is vitally important to provide stroke care close to home. ECU Health Beaufort’s stroke certification increases proximity to quality care in the Washington area, which reduces 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 Beaufort 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.

The severity and likelihood of having a stroke in North Carolina is significantly higher than the rest of the country as a whole. Eastern North Carolina is at the center of many strokes, often called the buckle of the stroke belt. North Carolina is about 8 percent worse for stroke mortality than the national average, and in eastern North Carolina, that risk is even greater.

“With all hospitals in the ECU Health system now stroke certified, a patient will be offered life-saving care regardless of the patient’s proximity to any of ECU Health’s hospitals and depending upon what additional treatments are needed, can be transported to a location with more extensive services when the patient is stabilized,” said Jay Briley, president of ECU Health Community Hospitals. “This system-wide stroke certification helps fulfill ECU Health’s mission of improving the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.”

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Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of ECU Health and Dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, speaks to the Edenton Rotary Club during a meeting on March 17, 2022.

Edenton, NC – March 17, 2022 – Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of Vidant Health and Dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, joined Vidant Chowan Hospital President Brian Harvill at the Edenton Rotary Club meeting Thursday to discuss the exciting future of ECU Health and the impact high-quality health care has on the vibrancy of eastern North Carolina.

The presentation to the Edenton Rotary Club is one of several planned this spring and summer to meet with community groups throughout the region.

“Every time I visit Edenton, I’m reminded that Vidant Chowan is one of the most important parts of this community,” Dr. Waldrum said. “Edenton and the surrounding towns have a great hospital where they can deliver babies, receive high-quality care and build their sense of community. We value the role of rural hospitals and that is why it is so important for us to have conversations about how we can best deliver health care across the region.”

Dr. Michael Waldrum, CEO of ECU Health and Dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, speaks to the Edenton Rotary Club during a meeting on March 17, 2022.

ECU Health – the joint enterprise between Vidant and Brody launching in the spring – was at the top of the agenda. Vidant Health enables the two organizations, which have worked collaboratively for years, to come together under a shared brand to provide streamlined care across the hospital system. A logo will be revealed in April and re-branding, which is expected to take months to complete, will begin in May.

Dr. Waldrum said ECU Health is the natural culmination of the two organization’s long partnership and shared mission of improving the health of eastern North Carolina. ECU Health will build on successful innovations such as the MOTHeRS Project, which is a grant-funded program through Vidant that connects mothers in rural areas to resources for nutrition, behavioral health needs and maternal fetal medicine resources. This program is beginning in Edenton and highlights the importance of collaboration to solve complex health issues in the region, Dr. Waldrum said.

“Having babies and being able to give birth here is really important to Edenton,” Dr. Waldrum said. “Babies that are born here are more likely to stay here when they grow up. We want to support that in an innovative way by providing access to care that meets the community’s need. The MOTHeRS Project is a great example of how Brody, Vidant and the future ECU Health will tackle complex challenges and bring a higher quality of care to the region.”

With Rotary Club members in attendance, Dr. Waldrum also spoke on the impact that access to care has on a community’s economic vibrancy. He shared that Vidant, which employs more than 13,500 team members, has a $4 billion economic impact on the region. Locally, Vidant Chowan has more than 500 team members and has a $61.3 million impact on the local economy. These numbers, Dr. Waldrum said, represent Vidant and the future ECU Health’s commitment to caring for the community.

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