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June 2017 RHA Public Newsletter

June 2017 

The opioid epidemic facing our country, state, and local neighborhoods is proving to be an extraordinary opponent, but the community stakeholders in New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington are rising to the call and fighting back.  

Opioid Task Force
L-R  Front Travis Robinson, Molly Daughtry, Deb Vuocolo, Kathy Smith, Olivia Herdon, Tony McEwen; Back Kenny House, Antonio Roper, Mitch Cunningham (Robert Childs not pictured)
RHA has had the opportunity over the past several months to participate in a multitude of initiatives to combat this health crisis and we are honored to work alongside a host of others dedicated to serving.  Projects such as the LEAD project, the Quick Response Team pilot, medication drop off sites, and community forums are designed to make a difference in the lives of those affected by opiate misuse.

Whether it is first responders, city or county officials, educators, or behavioral health providers, everyone comes to the table as an equal partner possessing knowledge, expertise, and compassion with a common goal of making a difference.

Leaders in this effort include professionals and citizens who have looked past artificial boundaries and are banding together around several strategies aimed at creating a healthier, more informed community.  SEAHEC is leading the charge with increasing awareness and educating the public through pulling people from all layers of community groups. 

"This story is all about the team work we have experienced and the solutions we have produced as a group.  I personally have been humbled by everyone's willingness to come to the table asking the question How can I help? How can I serve?"
-Kathy Smith, Ph.D. Chief Operating Officer RHA Health Services, Behavioral Health

Sam Hedrick Retires 

Sandra K Hedrick, known to all as "Sam", has decided to retire from RHA Health Services.  Sam has been with the company for 14 years in various executive roles, including President of RHA Howell. She is a legendary force in the health care field, but has always seen her role simply as an advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and behavioral health and substance use challenges.   

While at RHA, Sam was the recipient of the Steve Jordan Lighthouse Award at the 2016 NC Providers Council Conference, was named the 2016 Champion of Equality and Justice by Disability Rights NC, received the Triangle Business Journal's Healthcare Hero Executive Award, was a member of the Emerging Issues Panel hosted by Governor Jim Hunt, and served on the Board of Directors at ANCOR. Sam was also a graduate of the University of Delaware's Leadership Institute.

Jeanne Duncan, President, RHA Health Services says, "Sam's contributions to RHA are very much appreciated. She worked to develop innovative programs that have enriched the lives of the people we serve.  She is highly respected in the field and will be missed by all. We wish her well as she moves into the next phase of her life. 
Sophie's Story
-written by her mom, Melissa Blackmon 

Our daughter Sofie Blackmon was born with a rare disorder, called Biliary Atresia.   At just four and a half  months old, her liver failed.  She had her first liver transplant on August 17, 2012. She was just five months old.  Her transplanted liver started to fail and she had to be re-listed to receive another organ transplant that same week.  Sofie was extremely lucky and thanks to another organ donor she received her second life-saving transplant on August 24, 2012.

RHA CAP/C Case Management fast-tracked services for Sophie and she was able to come home after 6 weeks at Duke Hospital. She was taking 16 medications, 2 blood thinning shots a day, and had a feeding tube . Caring for Sofie was a full time job and without CAP/C services, I'm not sure what we would have done! With two young boys at home it was a difficult time.   But after only one sleepless night of around the clock care, Sofie's in-home nursing began on the second day she was home.  

Today, Melissa Blackmon works on fundraising initiatives for Donate Life NC.  They encourage all North Carolinians to become organ, eye and tissue donors.  Organ donors can save the lives of 8 people, tissue donors can help improve the lives of over 75 people.  Right here in North Carolina over 1500 people are waiting for an organ!
 Read more about Donate Life

To become an organ donor you can sign up at your local DMV, at any of our fundraising events or online at
Employee and Community Spotlight
Melissa Stewart-Wright receives NC Providers Council Award

We are all aware of how stressful direct care can be from time to time. Melissa Wright-Stuart's approach to serving consistently epitomizes proactive teaching and measured response when crises arise. As a good leader, she knows when to get her team involved in daily decision making. The people she works with know they can always count on her to be "steady" and professional with them. Melissa is a true professional and is greatly valued and appreciated by all.  We salute you!
Read More
Charles Taylor and
Courtney Evans

Team Trenton, TN complete 922 Out-Patient
medical appointments

During 2016, 922 outpatient medical appointments were successfully completed for 80 residents. These appointments included annual vision, hearing, dental & medical physicals. In addition, that included all the specialty visits required for cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology, ENT, dermatology, podiatry, oral surgery, orthopedics & psychiatry. Courtney Evans & Charles Taylor are the two unit clerks that  scheduled, coordinated and transported the majority of our residents to these appointments and to that we say, job well done!
Read More

Brittne with Journi 

Nashville Administrator Brittne Peterson Graduates with BSN

We are pleased to announce the Brittne was pinned on May 4, 2017, and graduated with her BSN on May 6.  We could not be more proud of all that she has accomplished. It should also be mentioned, Brittne is a wife, and a softball mom to a very smart and talented 10 year old daughter, Journi.  Brittne, you are a wonderful example of hard work paying off.  Congratulations on your graduation, and we are so happy to have you on our team!
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Creative Director
Debbie Valentine

Special Thanks to
Richelle Mitchell

Contributing Writers
Dr. Kathryn Smith
Deb Vuocolo
Fred Nelson
Michael Johnson
Lori Wooten
Denise Redfearn
Debbie Sprinkle
Carlo Black
Denise Redfearn
Debbie Sprinkle
Carlo Black
  Special Thanks to Melissa Blackmon with Donate Life NC
Senior Night Speech By a Remarkable Young Man!
RHA CAP/C Services Raleigh, NC    

  "Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to be here tonight on behalf of the Class of 2017. I thank the faculty for giving me the easiest transition to this amazing school as well as my fellow classmates for including me in everything from the very first day."  
 Read Tai's entire speech.  

When Tai was three years old, he was diagnosed with a genetic disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, more commonly known as SMA. He is a National Honor Society student and will continue his education in the fall at Coastal Carolina University.

Tai has been in the Community Alternative Program for Children (CAP-C) since 2014. His Case Manager, Casey Robinson, will be attending his graduation ceremony on June 24th!

Tai's family is in need of a new or used wheelchair van. If you are interested in helping please visit

Shore Program reaches out to families
RHA Behavioral Health Wilmington, NC

Supporting Hope Opportunities Recovery and Empowerment (SHORE) is a first-episode psychosis treatment program based at the RHA Covil location in Wilmington NC. The Shore Team publishes a monthly newsletter for family members of people active in the program. A FaceBook page has also been set up strictly for parents and is a closed group administered by two parent volunteers.

one knows what to say. After all, what do you say when someone tells you that your 21 year old son is psychotic and in a psychiatric hospital? People feel bad, but they don't know how to help.   I don't know what I need; all I know is that my heart is heavy and my eyes are full of tears.  I am so sad.  Did I miss something when he was young? Could we have done something differently to prevent him from ending up this way as an adult?" written by a Shore parent.   
Read More

Whole Person Learning Collaborative
RHA Behavioral Health Spruce Pine, NC 

 The RHA Behavioral Health Spruce Pine program began participating in the Whole Person Care Learning Collaborative:  Moving our organization ahead in Integrated Care in October of 2016. 

The Collaborative was presented through VAYA health and MAHEC.  We just submitted our finished project this past week and it summarizes the steps we have taken in moving forward toward Integrated Care in our offices.  Our goal in beginning the project was to increase effective communication between Primary Care Physicians and RHA in order to meet our client's holistic needs.

Thanks for reading this edition of our newsletter! Let us know if you have any questions or suggestions.