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Health Care Heroes Winners Honored At Wilson Center Award Ceremony

By Audrey Elsberry, posted Oct 30, 2023
The Greater Wilmington Business Journal hosted the Health Care Heroes Awards at the Wilson Center on Friday, Oct. 27. (Photo by Madeline Gray)
The Greater Wilmington Business Journal hosted its annual Health Care Heroes Awards on Friday, Oct. 27 at the Wilson Center, honoring the community’s health care workers.

The business journal published an open call for nominations, which were voted on by an outside panel of judges and produced the 24 finalists, two scholarship winners and one Lifetime Achievement winner honored at Friday’s event.

Rob Harper, a cardiologist at the Novant Health Heart and Vascular Institute, won the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with his patients, Wilmington’s cardiovascular resources and legislative work for his late practice partner Henry Patel, who died after an oral surgery complication.

Other winners included Nin Patel, a pharmacy technician at Dosher Memorial Hospital who won the Community Achievement category. Patel started Operation Medicine Cabinet, a drug take-back event in partnership with Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and Southport Police Department.

In the Innovation in Health Care category, Greg Brannon, medical director of Optimal Bio was named the winner. Brannon’s work at Optimal Bio linked hormone imbalances in women to environmental factors like pesticides and delivers Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Drew Haygood took home the award for the Health Care Executive category. The Director of Information Technology at Wilmington Health won for his work keeping Wilmington Health’s technology up and running, especially during hurricane season, when he has been known to sleep in the data center to make sure things run smoothly in case of emergency.

Nurse Practitioner Bridgette Williams won in her category of Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant for her work developing Novant Health Cardiology’s first Advance Practice Provider-led clinic called HEART STRONG. Williams now works at Novant Health’s oncology team, a passion she has fed since her brother’s brain cancer diagnosis.

Lower Cape Fear LifeCare’s Nancy Russell won in the Nurse category. Russell is a nurse of 30 years and has a special gift in comforting families during the end-of-life process of a loved one, a fellow nurse Gail Futch said in her nomination. Futch said Russell has also offered her house or car to coworkers in need.

The Physician category award went to Jugta Kahai, from Pediatric Medical Center. Kahai won for her work with the Columbus County Opioid Task Force, Columbia County Community Collaborative and Resilient Columbus. She also created a community garden at Columbus Regional.

Clinical Pharmacist Practitioner Joshua Jones won the Unsung Hero Award this year. At Novant Health NHRMC and Novant Health Primary Care Clinic, Jones’s dedication to patient care is seen through his thorough explanations of complex medications and treatment plans, Araceli Leon, Jones’s colleague at NHRMC said.

The Volunteer Award went to Dot Grime, an 87-year-old volunteer at Novant Health NHRMC. With more than 7,000 hours and 20 years of volunteer service, Grime still stands to greet every person who walks into Novant Health’s orthopedic hospital, Director of Patient Services, Erin Barajas said. After getting her RN at age 50, Grime’s career got cut short when she was involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, Barajas said.

Friday’s awards ceremony ended with dinner, drinks and dancing following the awards presentation. More information about the full list of nominees can be found here.
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