Local News

Cape Fear Valley Medical Center earns top safety awards

09capefearvalleymedCape Fear Valley Medical Center has been designated one of America’s safest hospitals by a national organization that monitors institutional patient safety. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine reported that nearly 98,000 Americans were dying annually because of medical errors. In response, a group of large employers formed The Leapfrog Group. Their goal was to collect data that ensures they are providing the best health benefits for their employees and to drive giant leaps forward in hospital safety. Thus, the name The Leapfrog Group was chosen.

The group developed the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, which assigns recognizable letter grades assessing the safety of general hospitals across the country: A, B, C, D and F.

Cape Fear Valley Medical Center was awarded an “A” rating this spring, acknowledging its efforts to protect patients from harm. The hospital survey system used 28 performance measures of patient safety. Details on those measures are available at hospitalsafetygrade.org. Across the country, 2,600 hospitals participated. The Leapfrog Group found that if hospitals with a grade lower than A are able to achieve the safety performance of A hospitals, an estimated 50,000 patient lives could be saved.

The 2017 American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey of patient admissions found that the number of avoidable deaths ranged from 3.24 lives per 1,000 admissions in A hospitals to 6.21 lives per 1,000 admissions in D and F hospitals. Overall results reflect average hospital performance in each grade category.

The information about hospital performance collected through the Leapfrog Hospital Survey is unique. “When they look into it, (you) realize how many things can go wrong in a hospital, and that makes a big difference,” said Leapfrog President and CEO Leah Binder. “That’s why I think it’s … important for us to highlight this in a way that’s easily accessible to laypeople.”

In addition to Leapfrog Group’s findings, Healthgrades has conferred three specialty clinical quality awards on Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, which include evaluation of patient safety.

The local hospital was ranked among America’s 100 Best Hospitals for the 2019 Cardiac Care Award. It also earned America’s 100 Best Hospitals’ Coronary Intervention Award for superior clinical outcomes in heart bypass surgery, coronary interventional procedures, heart attack treatment, heart failure treatment and heart valve surgery; and the 2018 superior clinical outcomes in coronary intervention procedures, which involve angioplasty with stent. Healthgrades evaluates hospital performance using objective quality measures, including patient safety, clinical outcomes and patient experience.

Cape Fear Valley Health System’s most recent honors included Get with the Guidelines — AFIB Gold Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association — for helping patients suffering from atrial fibrillation. Methods to aggressively reduce risks to prevent stroke and stabilize heart function were established. The American Heart Association estimates 2.7 million adults have AFIB, which is associated with a significant increased risk of stroke.

Cape Fear Valley is a private, not-for-profit health system governed by a 22-member board of trustees. The board includes the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners as well as physicians, registered nurses and various members of the community.

New Special Operations leader comes to Fort Bragg

08craigbishopFort Bragg is probably best known as headquarters of the famed 82nd Airborne Division. But it’s one of several major combat commands on post. They include U.S. Army Forces Command, Army Reserve Command, 18th Airborne Corps, Army Special Forces Command, the Army Special Operations Command, Joint Special Operations Command, John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, 528th Sustainment Brigade (Airborne) and the 4th Military Information Support Group (Airborne). An estimated three dozen general officers, including a four-star and half a dozen three-star generals, are stationed at Pentagon South, as Fort Bragg is colloquially known.

A veteran of the 75th Ranger Regiment is on his way to Fort Bragg to become senior NCO of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command. Command Sgt. Maj. Craig Bishop is currently the senior non-commissioned officer of the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas. He was named to replace JSOC Command Sgt. Maj. David Blake, according to a Pentagon press release.

JSOC oversees elite special operations strike forces, including the Navy’s SEAL Team six, the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron and the Army’s Delta Force, officially designated the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment. JSOC is also responsible for studying special operations requirements, ensuring equipment standardization and developing joint tactics among special operations forces.

Bishop enlisted in the Army in September 1992 from Sweetwater, Tennessee. Over the course of his Army career, he has performed all NCO leadership positions, from team leader to command sergeant major for the 75th Ranger Regiment. Bishop has been through all levels of the NCO education system, including Special Operations Command Summit course and the Joint Special Operations Forces Senior Enlisted Academy.

Bishop will serve under Air Force Lt. Gen. Scott Howell, JSOC commander and the first Air Force general to lead the legendary unit that was born out of the Iran hostage crisis in 1980.

Since 9/11, few elements of the U.S. military have been more involved in the fight against terrorism than soldiers of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, or USASOC. Established at Fort Bragg on Dec. 1, 1989, to enhance the readiness of Army Special Operations Forces, USASOC also functions as the Army component of the U.S. Special Operations Command, which is located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. In Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and numerous other hotspots around the world, USASOC soldiers have been among the first forces to deploy in support of U.S. and coalition force objectives.

Many of these soldiers, most of them having served in numerous combat rotations, remain deployed to those locations along with conventional forces and multinational partners to help ensure the success of all GWOT operations, whether in a frontline combat role or a humanitarian assistance function. Green berets ordinarily serve shorter deployments than traditional forces but are sent into combat more often.

Photo: Command Sgt. Maj. Craig Bishop

County high school grads awarded scholarships

07scholarshipCumberland County’s collective graduating class of 2019 has racked up more than $92 million in college scholarships. Local high school graduates earned $74.7 million in academic scholarships and $5.5 million in athletic scholarships, a Cumberland County Schools news release said.

Military scholarships, including those awarded by West Point Military Academy, Virginia Military Institute and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, totaled $10.2 million. Other awards of community and civic scholarships amounted to nearly $2 million.

This year’s scholarship dollar totals surpassed the class of 2018 by more than $800,000. The class of 2019 graduates will also be financing their higher education at Methodist University, Fayetteville State University, Duke University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Morehouse College, Ohio State University, Livingstone College and dozens of others.

Department of Social Services helps fund those in need during the summer heat

The Cumberland County Department of Social Services is accepting Crisis Intervention Program applications from individuals and families who are in danger of experiencing cooling-related crises. Households are being served on a first-come, first served basis. The CIP fund will be in effect until all funds are exhausted.

Eligible families may receive more than one payment during the year. Benefits will vary based on the amount needed to alleviate the crisis, but will not exceed $600. Funds are paid directly to the utility provider.

A household is considered in a crisis if there is a person experiencing or in danger of experiencing a life-threatening or health-related emergency when assistance is not available from other sources.

Applications are accepted Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at reception desk 23 on the second floor of the DSS building, 1225 Ramsey St. For information regarding eligibility criteria, call the Department of Social Services at 910-323-1540.

Register of Deeds staffers may beat their own school supply drive record

The Cumberland County Register of Deeds office is holding its 10th annual school supply fundraiser for homeless school children through Aug. 1. Individuals, businesses, civic groups and churches are encouraged to give. The Register of Deeds office hopes to collect supplies to fill 850 book bags, which will be donated to the estimated 650 homeless children in county schools. Some of the book bags will be set aside for relief events and the American Red Cross to help families that have experienced disasters.

The following school supplies are needed: pencils, pens, notebooks, rulers, composition books, folders, notebook paper, pencil sharpeners, erasers, glue sticks, crayons, toothbrushes, toothbrush cases, toothpaste and hand sanitizer. In addition to school supplies, gift cards or cash donations will be accepted. No checks, please.

Donated items can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Register of Deeds office in Room 114 of the Cumberland County Courthouse, 117 Dick St. For more information, call 910- 678-7775.

Vacation time at City Hall

It’s July, which means local government bodies are taking time off. Fayetteville City Council and Cumberland County Commissioners won’t be conducting regularly scheduled meetings until August. Fayetteville City Manager Doug Hewett took some time off last month so he can be on hand in the event something comes up.

National Airborne day

The 79th anniversary of U.S. Army airborne forces coincides with the 19th anniversary of the opening of downtown Fayetteville’s Airborne & Special Operations Museum. It opened Aug. 16, 2000.

The ASOM Foundation chose to celebrate National Airborne Day on Saturday, Aug.17, to maximize the opportunity for the public to visit and celebrate the museum’s anniversary. Visitors will see iconic static displays of the XVIII Airborne Corps, United States Army Special Operations Command, and 82nd Airborne Division, as well as period reenactors in the world-class museum.

ASOM is owned by the U.S. Army but operated by a local foundation. Local military and civilian officials decided to construct the facility in downtown Fayetteville rather than on Fort Bragg. They said at the time it was the most significant Army edifice in the civilian domain.

Community loses another icon

08Bob LewisTough but fair. Those were the words most frequently used to describe the late Bob Lewis by friends and former co-workers.

Lewis, 88, was a coach, teacher and principal in New Bern before relocating to Fayetteville, where he largely made his reputation locally as the principal at Seventy-First High School in the 1970s.

He went on to serve in local government, elected to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners and eventually rising to the chairman’s seat.

Larry Lancaster, who currently serves on the Board of Commissioners, was an educator at roughly the same time as Lewis. Like many, he knew of Lewis’ reputation.

“Bob was a man of conviction,’’ Lancaster said. “He did not shy away from controversy. Back when he was principal, it was a tough time. There were a lot of things going on in this country and a lot of stuff that was brought to the schoolhouse door.’’

Lancaster said Lewis ran a tight ship and expected both students and staff to follow the rules. “There were no shortcuts with Bob,’’ Lancaster said. “Strict, fair, but he had an eye for great people.’’

A number of the people who served under Lewis during his Seventy-First days went on to become leaders in both education and politics.

One of those was Alex Warner, who was an assistant principal with Lewis and became a member of the Cumberland County Board of Education and later the North Carolina General Assembly.

Warner said Lewis faced multiple challenges in his time at Seventy-First. The Vietnam War was raging, and public schools were about to be fully integrated for the first time when Lewis came to Seventy-First as principal in 1968.

On top of that, the building at Seventy-First was built for about 1,100 students, Warner said. At one point during Lewis’ tenure, they had 2,300 enrolled.

“It was dynamite fixing to be set off by some incident,’’ Warner said.

Warner said Lewis had a knack for finding the good in everyone he encountered and nurturing it. Lewis would frequently hold round-table discussions with his whole staff to get various opinions on problems they were dealing with, but when a decision had to be made, Lewis made it and stuck with it.

“When we left the office, we were unified together because the mission was established by the boss,’’ Warner said. “He was the boss, and I admire him for that.’’

Gerald Patterson, another former Lewis assistant who went on to become principal at Seventy- First, said the most important thing he learned from Lewis was to stand up and be counted. Patterson said it was the strength of Lewis’ leadership that propelled many of his protégés into administrative careers of their own.

“What he gave me was the impetus to stand on my own two feet,’’ Patterson said. “Don’t be afraid of who might come after me. Be yourself.’’

Photo: Bob Lewis

State offers higher education equality for military and family members

07edNorth Carolina law says that any member of the armed services qualifying for admission to an institution of higher education but not qualifying as a resident for tuition purposes shall be charged the in-state tuition rate for enrollments while a member of armed services. Dependents and spouses of active-duty service members using Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits are eligible to be reclassified under the in-state tuition rate without meeting the state’s 12-month residency requirement.

The North Carolina General Assembly passed Senate Bill 257 in 2017 to comply with federal law under Section 702 of the Choice Act. It provides a waiver of 12-month residency requirements for certain veterans and other individuals entitled to federal education benefits. In North Carolina, to qualify for in-state residency, a veteran must show that he or she established legal residence, or domicile, in North Carolina and has maintained that domicile for at least 12 consecutive months before the beginning of the term. They also must demonstrate that they intend to make North Carolina a permanent home indefinitely.

Active-duty members of the armed forces are charged in-state tuition while living in North Carolina because of their active-duty assignment in the state. This also applies to reservists, even those who are not intending to make the state their permanent home. If subsequently reassigned outside North Carolina, the members continue to qualify for instate tuition so long as they remain continuously enrolled in the program they were in before reassignment. Dependent relatives — spouses, children and siblings who share the abode of a service member who is in North Carolina on active duty — also qualify for in-state tuition rates.

Many service members seeking higher education have historically preferred community colleges. Fayetteville Technical Community College has been rated one of the best two-year institutions for service members, and it’s one of the largest in the state. FTCC is a public, two- to four-year school. Its highest level of offering is associate degrees. Tuition and fees for 2019 at FTCC are $2,544 for North Carolina residents and $8,688 for out-of-state students. The school has a total enrollment of 11,660. The studentto- faculty ratio is 19-to-1.

In October 1963, two years after the fledgling school opened, the board of trustees requested that the status technical institute be granted to the institution. The North Carolina State Board of Education did so in January 1964, and the name Fayetteville Technical Institute was adopted. The board of trustees was granted authority to award the associate in applied science degree in addition to diplomas offered in numerous programs. In January 1988, FTI became Fayetteville Technical Community College when the North Carolina Department of Community Colleges changed the name. The change was in name only though, as the purpose of FTCC remained intact.

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