Health Care

Health Care Heroes: Innovation

By Staff Reports, posted Oct 20, 2023

Honors an individual or team behind a new scientific discovery, procedure, treatment or device that can save lives or improve the quality of life for a large number of people.


Title: Medical Director 

Organization: Optimal Bio

What a nominator said: “After spending 30 years as an OB/GYN, Dr. Brannon started to search for the core reason as to why his patients were struggling with symptoms of lethargy, anxiety, depression etc. Hormones were the answer! In particular, hormonal imbalance was the causal pinpoint. As one ages, it’s natural for the levels of key hormones to decrease. However, another contributing factor as to why hormones decrease, especially at the fast rate that is shown in present day society, is the environment. Endocrine disruptors, or xenoestrogens, such as pesticides in the food, BPAs in the water, even the phthalates in shampoo, disrupt the body on a physiological level and send the brain the wrong signals. … In 2012, Dr. Brannon began Optimal Bio, a medical practice that specializes in Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy. Through BHRT, individuals are able to optimize their hormones or in other words, get them back to where their body was originally designed to maintain. … Optimal Bio now has 7 locations, one of them being Wilmington, NC, and is continuing to grow and be a go to resource for the public that advocates for their wellbeing and fights against the standards or ‘normalcy’ of aging.”

– Allison Padgett, office manager, Optimal Bio


Title: RN, Nurse Educator and Founder 

Organization: Sankofa Training & Wellness Institute

What a nominator said: “Suprena Hickman is an RN who is now working as a nurse educator. Her program, Sankofa Training & Wellness Institute, seeks to address an important disparity in health care by first addressing access to healthcare education.While the US Census reports the population as 13.4% Black, this is not reflected in the health care industry. The 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey found that only 6% of the RN workforce identify as Black. This lack of representation in the industry reflects systemic issues with diversity in medicine. …

“Sankofa works to attract, educate, train and employ African Americans and other minority talent, to enhance diversity in the medical profession. The school has earned the NC Community College system’s certification for Health & Wellness Programming and offers a full course catalog dedicated to that first essential step in nursing careers: Certified Nursing Assistants. Importantly, nursing schools throughout NC are now requiring a CNA for admission to their programs.

“This year, Novant Health began offering full scholarships for students pursuing their CNA certification through Sankofa Training & Wellness Institute.”

– Margee Herring, PR consultant


Title: Clinical Pharmacist 

Organization: Novant Health NHRMC Specialty Pharmacy

What a nominator said: “Over the past five years Brittany has worked very diligently on projects to improve patient care and medication delivery at Novant Health in the Charlotte area and since returning to Wilmington in the winter of 2022. She was behind the concept and testing and was the first pharmacist to successfully deliver medication using drones to patients! She strives every day to provide the best care possible to patients going through all kinds of challenges and illnesses in their lives. She is an amazing wife and dog mother and I hope you select her to be recognized as a 2023 Health Care Hero!”

– Michael Meilinger, Environmental Specialist 2, NC DEQ DWR

Read more about all of the 2023 Health Care Heroes finalists here.

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