FTCC's sterile processing program produces unsung heroes

15 college studentsFayetteville Technical Community College's Central Sterile Processing Program offers students a chance to learn a new career and enter the health field in just 16 weeks.  Sterile processing is a field that does not receive a lot of attention, so spreading the word about opportunities in this field is a top priority.  It is a growing profession and needs trained, quality and technical individuals.

The Central Sterile Processing Program is part of the Department of Surgical Services at FTCC.  We offer a curriculum program, and our campus is military friendly.  The program’s goal is to provide the community with highly trained, certified technicians to build the local workforce.  Upon completion of the program, students will have the knowledge and skills to successfully pass the national certification exam provided by the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution, Inc. as a Certified Sterile Processing Department Technician.

The Sterile Processing Department is considered to be the “heart” of the hospital, as infection control starts here. SPD consists of disinfection, decontamination, preparation and packaging, sterilization, sterile storage, and distribution of medical supplies and equipment. Students must have a working knowledge of the SPD environment, including the types of chemicals used, surgical instrumentation, processes, record-keeping in addition to critical thinking and troubleshooting skills to name a few. Technicians must be able to provide safe, quality patient care.

The program is offered every fall semester and runs from August to December. Classes are broken up into two eight-week sessions. The program offers a combination class taught during the first eight weeks on campus in the evenings and shares information on an introduction to sterile processing, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and medical terminology. There is also a lab portion that meets two evenings a week and gives the students the opportunity to learn and demonstrate the necessary skills to prepare for the clinical environment. The second eight weeks are comprised of clinical hours and professional development in preparation for employment. Clinical hours are scheduled at various facilities with a minimum of 18 hours a week and vary from day to day based on the assigned location. Students are prepared for entry-level positions and are job-ready upon completion.

To find out more information and how to apply, visit, contact me at or call 910-678-9861. In addition to receiving affordable, high-quality education, students who attend Fayetteville Technical Community College have unique opportunities to network and experience leadership roles, enjoy athletics and much more. We invite you to visit our campus locations in Fayetteville, Spring Lake, or Fort Bragg and become a member of our team. Make the SMART choice for your education — Fayetteville Technical Community College.  

Nobody's Hero

14 Neil Peart"The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect." — "The Garden" by Rush.

 On Jan. 7, drummer, lyricist, motorcyclist and writer Neil Peart died from brain cancer. To the music world, he was one of the greatest drummers and percussionists ever. To the motorcycling world, he was a motorcycle enthusiast. To his fans, he was a hero.

 As the drummer for rock trio Rush, the band was different than the other groups in the 70s. They were the nerd squad. On tour, Rush was known for reading books, playing tennis and baseball, visiting museums and talking science fiction and philosophy. To them, the band was about the music and being the best.

 In 1997, tragedy hit. Neil's 19-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident, and nine months later, his wife died from cancer. Shortly after that, he packed up his BMW 1100GS and started riding. Absent for years, he traveled over 55,000 miles across the Americas. In 2002, he released the book, "Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road." The book documented his journey of grief, motorcycle life and healing. In the end, he found love and returned to the band and work. The motorcycle community took note.

 It was no secret that Neil disliked touring and the notoriety of stardom. After a show, Neil would escape to his tour bus, and the band would pull into a place they called the "Chateau Walmart" for the night. The next morning, he would ride off to the next venue.

 As a lyricist, once Neil joined the band in 1968, he wrote all of Rush's lyrics with over 75 songs to his credit. Rush's most popular sounds were "Tom Sawyer," "The Spirit of Radio" and "Working Man." Over time, Neil wrote seven books, including four about motorcycling. Rush retired in 2015 with a 40-year tour.

 In June 1994, The Standard wrote about him growing up in St. Catharines, Canada. In the article, Neil said, "And in a world which is supposed to be so desperate for heroes, maybe it's time we stopped looking so far away. Surely we have learned by now not to hitch our wagons to a 'star,' not to bow to celebrity. We find no superhumans among actors, athletes, artists or the aristocracy, as the media are so constantly revealing that our so-called heroes from Prince Charles to Michael Jackson, are in reality, as old Fred Nietzsche put it, 'human — all too human.' … And maybe the role models that we really need are to be found all around us, right in our own neighborhoods. Not some remote model of perfection which exists only as a fantasy, but everyday people who actually show us, by example, a way to behave that we can see is good, and sometimes even people who can show us what it is to be excellent."

 In an article in Inc., Neil told the reporter, "Never follow anyone, be your own hero."

More on black privilege being real in America

04 UAC012220006In my column two weeks ago titled “Black Privilege Is Real in America,” I shared my reaction to an opinion piece that appeared in The Fayetteville Observer. It was written by Debra Figgins and titled, “County schools must address racial disparities in discipline.” The writer presented several actions that she contended should be taken by the Cumberland County School System to reduce adverse disciplinary actions toward black students. I saw her presentation as reflecting “Black Privilege.” See for my column. In part, I wrote: “If I have accurately assessed what is being called for here, it means special treatment of disruptive black students, while disadvantaging educators and non-disruptive students. For educators, that disadvantaging comes by way of adding a multitude of new requirements to a workload that is very likely already overwhelming for most. Further, the additional requirements, without attention to parental and student responsibilities, are doomed to failure. Sadly, students who, without regard to race, will be disadvantaged in that teachers will have even less time and energy for helping them in their education process.

‘The bottom line is that this is a call for special treatment of black students while disadvantaging educators and other students; even those black students who want to learn and do not present disciplinary problems. This is ‘black privilege.’”

The school situation allowed for discussion of one manifestation of black privilege. However, another glaring indicator came along at about the same time as I was writing regarding Cumberland County Schools. In a column titled “Smith Recreation Center as Early Voting Site for Primary: Fear and Anger,” I addressed the push to make Smith Recreation Center an early voting site for the 2020 Primary. See

 Because the Cumberland County Board of Elections was not able to unanimously agree on a 2020 Primary early voting plan, the decision had to be made by the North Carolina Board of Elections. With three Democrats and two Republicans on that board, only a majority vote is required. Democrats from our local board presented a Majority Plan, and Republicans presented a Minority Plan. This was done before the State Board Dec. 20, 2019.

The State Board voted, along party lines, to approve the Majority (Democratic) Plan. This was not a surprise to me. However, I found the Majority’s argument weak, while Democrats on the State Board seemed to totally disregard the case made by the Minority. Given that the area in question is predominately black by population, I hold that this is another case of “black privilege.” What follows are some instances reflecting the Majority argument weaknesses and/or disregard of the Minority case.

Rev. Dr. Floyd W. Johnson Jr., Democrat and chairman of the County Board, opened the Majority presentation by saying, in part, “The members of the Majority Plan agrees that due to the aging community and lack of personal transportation that the Smith Recreation Center as an early voting site is a necessity because voters will not have to walk or ride the bus to another voting site. The site will not only accommodate the students from Fayetteville State University but also the voters from the Town of Spring Lake.”

He went on to say that the recommendation regarding Smith is not driven by consideration of race. This was followed by Johnson saying, “It is, however, one of the heaviest poverty struck areas in Cumberland County that is centered in heart of Afro-American community. It makes sense that everyone should have a right or access to a voting site regardless of their circumstances.”

When this opening is viewed in light of other information that was provided and the summary quote from my column, which is repeated at the end of this one, what is being called for here constitutes special treatment of black citizens in the area surrounding Smith.

Linda Devore, Republican and County Board member, talked about the Minority’s approach to selecting early voting sites. She emphasized that they want to minimize wait times on Election Day. That means focusing on large precincts when selecting early voting sites. Some have as many as nearly 5,000 registered voters. This is not the case in older neighborhoods like around Smith Recreation Center and around the Board of Elections. For me, this approach seems very reasonable. This thoughtful approach does not support making Smith an early primary voting site.

Irene Grimes, Democrat County Board member, also spoke for the Majority Plan. At one point, she made this statement: “I know we are probably going to hear about budgetary restraints that should keep Smith closed for the primary. Those, of course, have to be taken into consideration. However, one of the biggest arguments for Smith is that, this community, every time we have had a meeting about early voting plans, primary or general election, this community has shown up. They have shown up at the meetings advocating heavily for this center to be open. I believe we all are constantly lamenting the lack of voter participation in our elections. So, one of the biggest arguments is if the population in that area wants Smith Recreation as a voting site, then we should give it to them.”

I read this statement to say forget cost, scrap reason, and just give people what they want. That is a troubling approach and a weak argument. It is even more troubling when a statement by Linda Devore, regarding the Nov. 12, 2019, meeting referred to above by Grimes, comes into play. Devore said, “Of the 46 who attended the meeting, only two live in the precinct where Smith Recreation is, and only one was from the adjacent precinct. The other people live in scattered precincts all across the county.” These numbers do not line up with the tremendous interest and support argument claimed by Grimes.

Johnson and Grimes talked about not wanting voters to have to walk or take a bus to the Board of Elections to vote early. I found this interesting because of what was said about proposed weekend early voting. Devore explained that the Minority Plan called for Saturday voting on the first and third Saturdays so that workers would not work two weekends back-to-back. Grimes responded by saying: “I have been an election poll worker before I was appointed to the board. I also ran an early voting site, and I know that whether you are a regular staff member at the Board of Elections or a temporary poll worker like I was, everybody is extremely dedicated. And I understand that we have ... that we wanted to take into consideration the staffing issue, but it’s an election. I mean, we all just buckle down, put on our big girl pants, and do the 18 hours we have to do.”

So, people should not have to take a short bus ride to vote, but workers should “... put on big girl pants and ...” This sounds like very special treatment of a selected group of people.

Dr. Stella Anderson, Democratic member of the State Board, questioned Linda Devore regarding a reference Devore made during the Nov. 12 meeting to a newly revised state statute, adopted days earlier.  Anderson based her question to Devore on an article from The Fayetteville Observer titled “Vote site fight: Should early voting be held next door to Fayetteville State University?” Devore explained that her comments were mischaracterized by the Observer, which did not have a reporter at the meeting.  At the Nov. 12 meeting, Devore read the relevant section of the statute and then raised the concern about how this newly revised statute should be applied to the Smith issue. She also expressed her concern that the plan be based on what is best for the voters of the entire county.

The following section from my column gives attention to what Devore was referring to — “four precincts” are those close to Smith: “Finally, this singular focus will very possibly conflict with the intent, if not the letter, of recently passed legislation. During the 2016 primary, in these four precincts, a total of 2,516 ballots were cast: 205 by Republicans, 2,301 by Democrats and 10 by others. Having Smith Recreation as an early voting site during the primary would clearly favor Democrats and a primarily black population. Senate Bill 683/SL 2019-239, 163-227.6(b) speaks to voting site selection and ends with ‘... that the use of the sites chosen will not unfairly favor any party, racial or ethnic group, or candidate.’”

My assessment is that Anderson made a lengthy statement intended to exempt the State Board from considering the requirements of Senate Bill 683/SL 2019-239, 163-227.6(b). Quoted below is the heart of her statement: “We all need to be understanding about what the considerations are supposed to be for the state board when we have before us petition plans. And the standard is for us to look at the plan as a whole ... period. All of the sites that are proposed for the county and the extent to which the county’s electorate is well served by, and in this case, the multiple sites that are before us. So it is not the inclusion or exclusion of a single site and the perception of who will be best served, who would be mostly served, by any given site.”

Simply put, I strongly contend that Anderson’s statement dismisses consideration of an applicable statute.

Over the course of this hearing, Devore made several points that were also raised in my column. That was the case because much of what I wrote was prompted by a review of the  Nov. 12 meeting minutes. Aside from the statute issue, I summarized as follows: The picture here is one of misinformation that is not widely and forthrightly corrected by those who initially contribute to forming it: accusations of black voter suppression not supported by facts or reason; focusing on a small segment of the population when, in this case, equal treatment of all should be the aim; disregarding the high financial cost of the proposed change; not recognizing the inequity of having one site so much closer to another than is the case with others; by declining use of city buses, calling for greater convenience than seems necessary.

At the bottom line, Democrats on the State Board approved a plan including Smith Recreation Center, despite a weak argument for doing so, and a multitude of legitimate reasons for not approving it. Even further, they totally dismissed appropriate consideration for a statute that certainly should have been given far more attention. This is unjustified special treatment of a group of people; it is black privilege.

Legislative update: 2019-2020 long legislative session

05 teacher and studentsFriend, the 2019-2020 long Legislative Session has adjourned, and we still don’t have a budget. The failure to pass this budget lies with Sen. Phil Berger and the Republican leadership who are unwilling to compromise and work for all the people in North Carolina. Our educators deserve a pay increase, we need investment in our public education infrastructure, we must protect our water from contaminants like Gen X, North Carolinians need Medicaid expansion, and we can pay for it all by cutting corporate welfare in favor of taking care of the people of North Carolina. 

It is time to govern and put people over politics. Republicans continue to make excuses rather than working for the people of North Carolina and compromising on a budget that works for everyone. I am committed along with the other 20 democratic members in the Senate to continue this fight for a better budget. 

On Jan. 14, the North Carolina Senate met for a brief session before adjourning until April. 

During this session, no compromise was made on the budget. Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue and all Senate Democratic members offered to stay for as long as it takes to get an adequate budget that supports public education (K-12 and higher ed), teachers, support staff and retirees.

 What I’m fighting for in the budget process:
·     Adequate pay raise for teachers — GOP budget has a 3.8% raise, Gov. Cooper proposed 8.6%. Senate Democrats are fighting for a compromise of 6.5%.
·     Adequate pay raise for retirees — GOP budget has a 0.5% raise. Gov. Cooper proposed 2%. Senate Democrats suggested a compromise of 1.5%.
·     Adequate pay for noncertified educators — GOP budget included a $500 bonus. Gov. Cooper proposed 1.5%. Senate Democrats suggested 2%, while other state employees saw an increase of the minimum to $15/hour, facility staff like bus drivers, janitors, cafeteria staff and others have not seen a meaningful pay raise in years.
·     Democrats proposed a $100 million increase in public school infrastructure, including $19 million in additional funding for Cumberland County.
·     Democrats also proposed $5 million in additional resources to address contaminants like Gen X.

 The North Carolina General Assembly session has adjourned and will be back in session April 28. Please know that the office will continue to be open, so feel free to visit us at any time.  Please contact us by phone at 919-733-5776 or by email at for further questions.

Everything old is new again

03 margaret picRemember bell-bottom pants from the 1970s? How about shag haircuts and midriff-baring outfits and skinny suits for men? They are all back in some form, generally with new monikers like “flares,” “bedhead” and “hipster.” At the end of the day, though, these blasts from the past are comebacks of ideas that worked before and are working again.

The same is true for the names we bestow on what is most precious to us in life, our children.

The Social Security Administration has kept track of what we name our children since the 1880s, and it turns out that vintage names are making a comeback, especially for baby girls. A century ago, the 10 most popular names for girls were Mary, Dorothy, Helen, Margaret (yay!), Ruth, Mildred, Virginia, Elizabeth, Frances and Anna. I know babies and little girls today with some of those names, even though none of them are in the current top 10. Still, the SSA says traditional names are popping up on birth certificates, including Violet, Hazel, Faye, June, Millie, Eloise, Vera, Elsa, Stella, Rosalie, Olive and Josie. I know a few of those as well.

As for boys, the 1920 top 10 names were John, William, Robert, James, Charles, George, Joseph, Edward, Frank and Richard. William and James are still among the top 10 in 2020, which indicates that parents may be more willing to take a flier on girls’ names than with those for boys. Like the girls, boys are also experiencing a return of vintage names, including Clyde, Warren, Silas, Everett, Otto, Hugh, Jasper, Leon, Amos, Otis, Dean and Archie. Our family has a new double-traditional, George Claude.

North Carolina parents seem right on trend in our baby-naming. In 2018, the latest year available, we named our little girls Ava, Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Harper, Isabella, Amelia, Abigail, Sophia and Elizabeth, a nice mixture of tradition and a bit of modern. Tar Heel boy-naming continues to lean on tradition, with William and James still in the top 10 in second and fourth place, along with Noah, Liam, Elijah, Mason, Jackson, Carter, Lucas and Benjamin.

Make no mistake, though. American parents are perfectly willing to be creative on names when the mood strikes, according to Huff Post, which seems to be every bit as interested in baby naming as I am. For example, Maverick is more popular for boys than the first man’s name, Adam. Brooklyn, originally a New York borough, is more popular for girls than the traditional Anna. Oaklynn, a word that does not register on spellcheck, is one of the fastest rising names for girls. Axel was recently bestowed on more little boys than ever-popular Edward, and Genesis is both more popular than Lauren for girls and the fastest-rising name for boys between 2017-2018. Jason was a biggie several decades ago, but it has now been passed by Angel, and Roman now tops Justin. For girls, Serenity has edged out the traditional Julia, and Brittany, once in the top five, has declined to only a few hundred in 2018. Dior is one of the fastest risers, with more than 1,000 baby girls receiving it in 2018. Kairo, another made-up word, is zooming up the name chart for boys, while Cairo, the actual spelling of the word, has never hit the 1,000 mark.

The real question for parents with a new and precious bundle of joy is whether his or her name has already stood the test of time or whether someone will say 20 years later, “Oh, you must have been born in 2020!”

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