NC Department of Health and Human Services

Cherry Hospital Completes Patient Move to New Facility

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A chartered bus and two vans formed part of the transportation team that
helped relocate patients from the old to the new Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro.

Goldsboro - Patients have been safely moved and now occupy the new Cherry Hospital facility as of Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. The hospital, dedicated Aug. 30 in a ceremony attended by Gov. Pat McCrory, provides psychiatric care to individuals with the greatest need and with the least resources who live in 38 eastern North Carolina counties.

In coming months, Cherry Hospital will expand its capacity by 116 psychiatric beds, bringing the total beds to 313. In order to adequately staff the additional beds, 373 new jobs will be added, bringing the total to more than 1,300 employees.

“I am very proud of our staff and thankful for their tremendous and tireless efforts during the last several months as we transitioned to this new building,” said J. Luckey Welsh, Jr., Chief Executive Officer, Cherry Hospital. “We are excited to be safely in the new facility where we will continue to provide hope, care and recovery for our patients.”

The previous hospital at 201 Stevens Mill Road was composed of several buildings where patients have received care for more than 100 years. The new, single-structure, three-story building with approximately 410,000 square feet of space provides expanded services and additional capacity. It features a state-of-the-art laboratory, internal and external courtyards, dental and radiology departments, and a treatment mall.

“I watched patients enter this grand facility, their faces lit up with joy and their voices exclaimed their excitement,” said Welsh. “They were ready for this day because of thoughtful preparation and reassurance from our staff.”

Cherry Hospital is part of the Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities within DHHS, which oversees and manages 14 state-operated healthcare facilities that treat adults and children with mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance use disorders. These facilities serve those with complex acute care needs, providing a level of care not available in their communities.

More information about Cherry Hospital is available at
http://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/dsohf/cherry-hospital.

Dr. Angela Black Smith Recognized for Customer Service

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Dr. Angela Black Smith and DHHS Deputy Secretary for State Operated Healthcare Facilities Dale Armstrong at the award ceremony.

Dr. Angela Black Smith, PharmD, whose research and analysis could save the state $2.5 million a year in prescription costs, recently won recognition as a recipient of the 2016 Governor’s Award for Excellence. The award is the highest honor a state employee may receive for dedicated service to the state and citizens of North Carolina. She was one of 16 chosen among 118 nominated for this year’s recognition.

Award winners were guests Sept. 27 at a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion and then welcomed by Gov. Pat McCrory at the award ceremony Sept. 27 at the North Carolina Museum of History Auditorium,  where he offered thanks and praise for their outstanding service.

As director of Pharmacy for the Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities (DSOHF) within the Department of Health and Human Services, Smith oversees the use of medications and pharmacy functions across 14 facilities, ensuring operations run efficiently.

She and her team found numerous opportunities for savings after performing a detailed analysis. She initiated changes allowing the state to buy medications at deeper discounts by leveraging the buying power of governmental pharmacies across the nation.

“There’s a greater emphasis on efficiency and driving down costs while improving quality for patients,” Smith said. “To do that, you really need tools to understand where you are today and to figure out where you need to go.”

She helped design data-driven analysis to identify patterns of medication use by physicians among each facility type. The tools are reducing variations in physician practice, improving patient care and reducing expenditures. This work is projected to save more than $2.5 million annually.

“Angela sees every concern, every barrier, every problem that’s brought to her as an opportunity,” said Susan Saik Peebles, MD, Medical Director, DSOHF. “Her impact has been remarkable in many different ways.”

Smith is currently leading an innovative program, the Pharmacist Assisted Discharge Project (PADP), designed to improve access to medications for patients being discharged from state-operated facilities. This project reviews medications with patients before discharge and looks for opportunities available to make medications more affordable. Additionally, the project links patients with special services offered in their communities.

“To have the opportunity to serve in this capacity for the state is rewarding,” Smith said. “I find great value in being able to improve the health of North Carolinians who need us the most.”

Surry County Pair Picked as N.C.’s Top Paramedic Team for 2016

Top team members Josh LeCrone, left and Jose Butron, right, from Surry County Emergency Services, flank Office of Emergency Medical Services Chief Tom Mitchell with the award.

GREENSBORO – A team from Surry County Emergency Services gave the top performance during a judged competition with five other teams at this week’s North Carolina Paramedic Championship.

Jose Butron and Josh LeCrone claimed top honors following the 26th Annual Paramedic Competition, held at the Koury Convention Center during the Emergency Medicine Today Conference.

They out-performed defending champions from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Roger Horton and Barry McMillian, and four other pairs of champions selected following regional competitions in July from Rowan County EMS, Cabarrus County EMS, Hoke County EMS and an additional team from Surry County. The championship competition is co-sponsored by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the N.C. College of Emergency Physicians, and participating community colleges.

Tom Mitchell, chief of the N.C. Office of Emergency Medical Services, announced the winners Tuesday night to cheers and applause from a banquet hall packed with hundreds of EMS professionals and county emergency services medical directors. Mitchell praised the competing teams.

“All of this year’s competitors have shown dedication to their profession and their communities through preparation and hard work,” Mitchell said. “They are the best of the best and are on the cutting edge in emergency medical response. We offer our special congratulations to this year’s winners from Surry County.”

Teams were sequestered and drew lots to determine their order as each was called out to face a room full of peers while treating injuries from a failed infant abduction.  

In the scenario, the competing team arrives on the scene to treat an unspecified number of victims. The only information they have comes from dispatch and what they are able to glean as they assess the scene. Shortly after the team arrives, a police officer on scene dealing with a gunshot victim discovers a sobering situation in an adjacent bathroom: the gunshot victim and her accomplice had stalked a pregnant woman, drugged her and attempted to snatch her unborn child through a crude Caesarean section. Both are in critical condition and must be rapidly assessed and treated. The teams have 12 minutes to assess, treat and stabilize all victims.

The competition provides a training opportunity not only for the competitors, but also for the paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians who closely observe each team’s analysis and reaction to the scenario from bleachers positioned a short distance away. Large video screens display close-up views of procedures as teams administer care. Teams are judged on patient care, professionalism, communication, patient rapport, conduct, attitude, appearance and attire.

Through the Office of Emergency Medical Services, the Department of Health and Human Services works to foster emergency medical systems, trauma systems and credentialed EMS personnel to improve responses to emergencies and disasters.

Cherry Hospital Community and Recruitment Day is Saturday

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With DHHS Deputy Secretary Dale Armstrong, Cherry CEO Luckey Welsh and Governor Pat McCrory on the platform and the new facility behind them, DHHS Secretary Rick Brajer thanked employees from Cherry Hospital for the care they show to citizens who come to them during times of crisis. The four spoke at last week’s dedication and ribbon cutting for the $138-million building that will begin serving patients late this month.


GOLDSBORO – The public is invited to tour the new Cherry Hospital facility in Goldsboro this Saturday, Sept. 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The new facility is at 1401 W. Ash St., Goldsboro. A ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony for the new hospital was held last week.

Visitors will get a glimpse of the future of psychiatric care in eastern North Carolina before patients are transferred in late September. Hospital staff will also be recruiting nursing professionals, clinical social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists at the new facility. Potential candidates may tour the new hospital and submit applications. On-site interviews will be conducted.

The state-run facility provides psychiatric care to individuals with the greatest need and with the least resources who live in 38 eastern North Carolina counties, and strives to provide a place of hope, care and recovery.

The new Cherry Hospital facility is a three-story structure approximately 410,000 square feet. At full occupancy, the facility will include 116 additional beds, for a total of 313 inpatient beds, and add 334 new jobs for a total of more than 1,350 employees.

Cherry Hospital staff are currently working through a transition plan that includes staff training and setting up departments in the new hospital. At the time of the move, the hospital will be staffed for the current capacity of 197 beds. Capacity will be increased over time to its full occupancy, contingent on the hiring of additional staff.

Cherry Hospital is part of the Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities within DHHS, which oversees and manages 14 state-operated healthcare facilities that treat adults and children with mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance use disorders. These facilities serve those with complex acute care needs, providing a level of care not available in their communities.

More information about Cherry Hospital is available at
http://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/dsohf/cherry-hospital

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Lobby at Cherry Hospital offers a welcoming message.

Protect from Mosquitoes after Storms

Remember to Tip and Toss

Public health officials remind everyone to “tip and toss” outdoor water containers after Tropical Storm Hermine delivered heavy rains to some parts of North Carolina last weekend. More than half of the state received heavy rainfall as the storm tracked along the coast. Disposing of standing water is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce breeding sites for mosquitoes near houses.

Storms with high wind and rain can wash away existing mosquito breeding sites. But, as standing water recedes, new breeding sites for mosquitoes develop and flourish.

“Based on experience with prior hurricanes there is a high probability that populations of nuisance mosquitoes, which often breed in floodplains, will increase,” said State Public Health Veterinarian Carl Williams, DVM. “These mosquitoes, such as Aedes vexans, lay eggs on moist surfaces at sites where standing water occurs occasionally. The eggs remain dormant through a dry period and then hatch when covered with water. In this circumstance very large ‘broods’ of mosquitoes may emerge simultaneously.”

These mosquitoes may not transmit disease, but are known to hamper reconstruction efforts and place additional stress on human populations. While individuals can do little to reduce the breeding habitat of these types of mosquitoes, their effect can be reduced through the use of insect repellents such as DEET on exposed skin and treating clothing with permethrin.

“Container inhabiting Aedes species mosquitoes, such as Aedes albopictus, breed effectively in small containers of standing water that Hermine will create,” said Williams. “Minimizing the habitat for mosquitoes and reducing exposure to them is essential.”

The following are basic steps everyone should follow throughout warm weather months:

  • Reduce mosquito breeding opportunities by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths at least weekly.

  • Tightly secure screens on all openings on rain barrels used for water conservation.

  • Clean up any trash or leaves that may be around your home or in rain gutters.

  • Use tick and mosquito repellent that contains DEET (or equivalent) on exposed skin and wear clothing treated with permethrin, a synthetic insecticide used against disease-carrying insects.

  • Mosquito-proof your home by installing or repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside, and use air conditioning if you have it.

For information on preventing tick- and mosquito-borne illnesses, visit http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/vector.html.  

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The N.C. Division of Public Health Epidemiology, Communicable Disease Branch works with the public, local health departments and other public health agencies, healthcare professionals, educators, businesses, communities and healthcare facilities to protect and improve the health of people in North Carolina through disease detection, tracking, investigation, control, education, prevention and care activities.

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