Apr 152014

As a Pirate alumna, Dasha Little not only honors East Carolina University’s motto “servire”, or “to serve” by representing her alma mater well through her company’s dedication to providing services to injured service members and other government contracts, but also by her faithful contributions towards several different programs within the University.

Through her donations towards areas such as Academic Affairs, the Colleges of Allied Health Sciences, Business, Fine Arts and Communications, and Health and Human Performance, and Student Life, she has continued to give back to the University. ECU is honored to have Dasha serve as one of the Incredible Women of ECU and a member of the ECU Distinguished Military Service Society. She also joined the ECU Medical and Health Sciences Foundation Board in February and spoke at the ECU Women’s Roundtable event in October, delivering her perspective on leadership and service.

Dasha, who majored in art education, graduated from ECU, along with her husband Kirk in 1981 and 1982, and founded Apogee Solutions, Inc. in 2002. During her years at ECU, she was involved in including the Student Government Association, Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority, and ECU Ambassadors, and also served as a resident advisor. Following graduation Dasha decided to continue her education in a different area.

“I wanted to lean forward and use my creativity to venture into the counseling and Student services career field,” said Dasha, “I received my Master of Science degree in Counseling as a wife of an Air Force Officer. At that time I knew that having a portable degree and skills would make me employable in many duty sites and in many work situations. My love of people and serving led me to the Vocational Rehabilitation career field.”

When asked about her favorite memories from her time as an ECU student, Dasha is quick to say that meeting and marrying her “ECU sweetheart” Kirk is at the top of the list along with the amazing faculty with which she had the opportunity to interact.

Dasha Little with husband Kirk, photo by Jay Clark

Dasha Little with husband Kirk, photo by Jay Clark

“I am very thankful for the excellent instructors and administrator at ECU who saw promise and leadership qualities within me and called those capabilities forward to be my passion and vocational direction,” said Dasha.

Dasha now serves as the president and CEO of the company with Kirk as the vice president and chief operation officer. Apogee Solutions is a small business based in Virginia with over 160 employees in 13 states and the District of Columbia and provides allied health management, technology integration, and operations, training, and logistics consulting services to the U.S. government.

In its allied health management division, Apogee provides certified case management professionals who assist injured service members through counseling and job assistance. The division also helps assess patients’ potential benefit from rehabilitation services, vocational testing, vocational case management, and vocational earnings capacity assessments. Through their services, Apogee Solutions supports both the U.S. Government and private sector organizations in areas such as training and exercise support, medical training and education, and technology integration.

Through the other areas of Apogee, operations, training and logistics and technology integration, the company develops engineering designs and cyber operations along with modifying traditional, large-scale simulation systems to include weapons of mass destructions for marine training prior to deployment.

The Little family and their company make their focus and mission to “positively impact the delivery of professional services; exceed our customers’ expectations; provide qualified employees who deliver prompt achievement of customer requirements; and be priced at competitive rates.”

Despite their residency in Virginia, Dasha says that ECU has become a “destination and a lifestyle of living” that aids her and Kirk’s business.

“It has helped Kirk and I learn to focus on the fact that people are important, relationships are to be valued, and leadership and influence are to be shared. We are grateful to be proud Pirates and sing ECU’s praises often,” she says.

The Little’s four children followed in the footsteps of their Pirate parents, Forrest Little graduated East Carolina University in 2009 followed by sister Meredith in 2012 and both Robert and Raleigh Little are current students.

Mar 282014

The Department of Health Services and Information Management was awarded a BB&T Leadership Enhancement Grant funded by the East Carolina University BB&T Center for Leadership for the third consecutive year. Through the $10,000 grant, HSIM will conduct a project entitled  “Making Connections Between Leadership Theory and Practice: Student Reflection on Interviews with Health Care Leaders” with Dr. Leigh Cellucci serving as the principal investigator along with team members Dr. Michael Kennedy, Dr. Bonita Sasnett, Professor Myra Brown, Jean Merenda and Dr. Xiaoming Zeng.

The purpose of the project is to study health services and information management student involvement with social media for healthcare leadership development. The students will create and post blogs to discuss connections between leadership theory and practice, and they will create and post audio and video recordings in which they elaborate these connections. Not only will the students create their own blog posts, but they will also utilize social media tools to reflect upon the outcomes of the students’ social media efforts from the 2012 and 2013 Leadership in Health Care (HSMA 3050) courses.

Team members for the BB&T Leadership Enhancement Grant, top row to bottom row  (L-R) Dr. Leigh Cellucci, Professor Myra Brown, Jean Merenda, Dr, Michael Kennedy, Dr. Bonita Sasnett and Dr. Xiaoming Zeng.

Team members for the BB&T Leadership Enhancement Grant, top row to bottom row (L-R) Dr. Leigh Cellucci, Professor Myra Brown, Jean Merenda, Dr, Michael Kennedy, Dr. Bonita Sasnett and Dr. Xiaoming Zeng.

Along with reflection, it is important the students learn how to create social media products. Hence, their team outcomes are the blogs and recordings. They will be studying past social media efforts while creating new social media products

In the classroom, instructor efforts focus on helping students to master concepts and skills that will enable them to be effective, performing leaders in health care. In the Leadership in Health Care course, students learn more about basic leadership concepts such as health care executive ethical standards, decision making, change management, and the how to work productively as a team. Additionally, they learn about interpersonal leadership skills including effective communication, delegation, and the management of conflict.

In their application, the team from HSIM along with Educational Technology Specialist Jean Merenda, stated, “Health Service and Information Management graduates will inevitably practice in an online environment. The challenges to us as educators will be how to leverage these new tools to provide leadership education to our students and how to prepare our graduates to be effective leaders in this new environment.”

It is also important for students to go outside the classroom and away from the textbook to learn from real world health care leaders. The interviews of the 2013 students allow for this opportunity for the 2014 students. In this project, students will be assigned to about 15 teams and use the social media platform to share and reflect on the 2013 interviews with health care leaders, focusing on basic leadership concepts, interpersonal leadership skills, or technical leadership skills.

The technologies for students to share and communicate on the interviews will include, but are not limited to, ECU Inner Pirate Network, ECU WordPress blogs, SABA Web Conferencing, and My Mediasite services. As in 2012 and 2013, HSIM chose tools customized for users at ECU in order to generate a “walled garden” for students in order for them to feel comfortable to share their work and thoughts.

All activities during the project will be supervised and directed according to the ECU social media guidelines. The social media distribution tools selected are up to the student team members; the topics, however, must reflect leadership concepts, interpersonal or technical skills elaborated in class lecture and read about in the required text for the course.

Proposals submitted to the ECU BB&T Center for Leadership are chosen by their demonstration of how the initiative will assist and enable students to develop awareness, appreciation, sensitivity, and capacity for inspiring, empowering, and influencing positive change.


Mar 112014

When disasters strike, such as fires, tornadoes or more commonly for eastern North Carolinians, hurricanes, the American Red Cross does its part in aiding those affected by the incident. Now, one faculty member and four students from the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies in the College of Allied Health Sciences have recently been trained to provide counseling along with the American Red Cross through the “Ready When the Time Comes” program.

“Ready When the Times Comes” is a corporate volunteer program and is “designed to tap into corporate America’s expertise and desire to help people in need” according to the American Red Cross website. Through this program, Red Cross is able to prepare employees from partnering corporations to be mobilized and respond when a disaster occurs.

Navigate Counseling at ECU Team

(L-R) Members of the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies, Vanessa Perry, Celeste Crawford, Dr. Leigh Atherton, Samantha Coleman and Jeff Thomas are proud to serve as part of the American Red Cross “Ready When the Times Comes” program. (not pictured: Matt Cox)

Team leader Dr. Leigh Atherton, a clinical assistant professor and director of the Navigate Counseling Clinic, will lead four students from the department Samantha Coleman, Matt Cox, Vanessa Perry and Jeff Thomas in this endeavor. The group will not only use their skills and expertise required to provide counseling and aid through the Navigate Counseling Clinic, but also skills they learned through several required Red Cross trainings on topics such as mental health fundamentals, psychological first aid and providing emergency assistance. Now that they’ve completed the extensive training the Navigate Counseling Team at East Carolina University is ready to be dispatched if needed during a local disaster.

“Giving back to the community is a core value of Navigate Counseling Clinic, and the ‘Ready When the Time Comes’ volunteer opportunity is a perfect match for our team. We are all excited for the opportunity to provide assistance to those affected by disasters on both a local and national level,” said Atherton.

Another member of the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Services, Celeste Crawford has been a Red Cross RWTC volunteer for many years and while she isn’t part of the Navigate Counseling Clinic at ECU team, she has been on a number of national deployments. Most recently, she was part of a team of North Carolina-based volunteers who responded to the shooting on the Washington Navy Yard.

The Navigate Counseling Team at ECU is proud to honor the University’s motto “Servire” by serving those in need through the “Ready When the Times Comes” program with the American Red Cross. To learn more about how you can get involved with this program, visit the American Red Cross website at www.redcross.org .

Feb 212014
Dr. Stephen Thomas

Dr. Stephen Thomas

I recently published my second article on allied health in the North Carolina Medical Journal. The latest article entitled “New Initiatives in Allied Health in North Carolina” (see here) is another opportunity to educate the medical professions about the allied health professions and the important role we play in health and health care delivery. We all know the issue – allied health by name does not represent who we are as well as titles such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, and pharmacy. I am often asked “What is allied health?” and I give my quick “elevator speech” in which I name several of our departments and then the light bulb lights up—they understand. That often leads to a more in depth and engaging discussion about allied health professions.

I have often referred to allied health as an” alliance” of smaller but significant health professions that, collectively, are larger than medicine or nursing. By themselves, they are unable to bargain as effectively as the larger professions of medicine, nursing and dentistry. Therefore, they form an alliance in order to garner their fair share of the health and health care resources, particularly in higher education. I recently attended a Southern Association of Allied Health Deans Meeting at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where I was employed in my first professional position in their rehabilitation center in 1970 (I felt like I was going home). At the opening session, their allied health dean, Dr. Elizabeth Protas, referred to the method for addressing this issue as “Single Voice Advocacy.” That phrase has stayed with me. It offers a very direct approach for our College to effectively advocate for our professions and educate other health professionals, and the public, about the critically important roles of the allied health disciplines within this alliance, and our significant role in the successful and cost-effective delivery of quality health care.

Single Voice Advocacy was the motivation behind my desire to write the article for the NCMJ. As dean, it is my role to promote the high demand disciplines within the College of Allied Health Sciences. That has always been and will always be a core responsibility of my job. I would like to close by challenging each and every one of you to use “single voice advocacy” when sharing the value of the allied health professions with other health care providers and the public. With the many changes occurring in health care, it is the professional disciplines within allied health that can help deliver cost-effective, high quality, and patient-centered health and health care services throughout our state and nation.

Feb 042014

For ten years, the Jean Mills Health Symposium has addressed health and health equity issues of minority populations, particularly in eastern North Carolina to audiences as large as 175 participants that have included health care providers, faith based organizations, community leaders, students and faculty. Through the symposium, Amos T. Mills III, Jean’s brother, has help keep her spirit of discovery and community outreach alive.

This year’s symposium will take place February 7 at the ECU Heart Institute with the theme, “Navigating Health Equity in the Next Decade”. The College of Allied Health Sciences along with ECU Medical and Health Sciences Foundation will welcome Dr. Lori Carter-Edwards, deputy director for research and operations for the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) and research associate professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health as the keynote speaker for the event.

Dr. Lori Carter-Edwards

Dr. Carter-Edwards will address what she sees as the long-term picture and forecast of the direction of health and health care within the Affordable Care Act on the consumers in rural areas of the state. She will focus on questions such as :

  • What will health care look like and what can the consumer expect?
  • Will the consumer be more knowledgeable about health (prevention) and health care and how to access and use it as an informed consumer?
  • What changes can we expect to see in the health profile of consumers in 10 years and where and how will they be served?
  • Technology-based innovations are an important part of health and health care delivery and will there be funds available to pay for it?
  • What is the future of rural health and health care delivery and how and where will it be delivered?

Following Dr. Carter-Edwards’ lecture will be a panel discussion featuring Jim Baluss the executive director of Access East, Inc., Dr. Lorri Basnight the executive director of Eastern AHEC and associate dean of clinical medical education at the Brody School of Medicine and Dr. Tom Irons, associate vice chancellor of health sciences campus and professor of pediatrics at the Brody School of Medicine.

After the panel discussion and a lunch presentation, symposium attendees can choose between two concurrent sessions. Dr. Essie Torres from AMEXCAN will lead a session discussing health concerns of Latinos in North Carolina and the role of community based organizations in fostering the appreciation, understand, and prosperity of Mexican and Latino communities through culture, leadership, health advocacy and education. As a community based, grassroots organization AMEXCAN is concerned with the complexity of issues that impact the health of the Latino population. This presentation will focus on how a community based organization collaborates with health providers, community activists, local governments and others in identifying and implementing successful health programs.

 Another session led by Terri Joyner, Pitt County Schools nurse supervisor and Leslie Ricker from the Wayne Initiative for School Health, will focus on the innovative contributions of school nurses in reducing health disparities. Joyner and Ricker will discuss the health issues they observe within their school age population and the services their organizations provide to address those issues.

The second afternoon session entitled “Using Mobile Clinics to Address Health Disparities” will center around two ambulatory clinics offered by Winston Salem State RAMS Know H.O.W. (Healthcare on Wheels) and the ECU Operation Re-Entry North Carolina mobile van.

The RAMS Know H.O.W. (Healthcare on Wheels) mobile clinic is a community outreach program provided by Winston-Salem State University School of Health Sciences. The mobile clinic provides quality, accessible, and integrated wellness services to reduce health disparities. The mobile clinic offers free preventive health services to East Winston residents and others, who are uninsured or underinsured, in the convenience of their community.  The clinic’s team is made up of health sciences faculty, staff, and student volunteers. This team conducts the health screenings and makes referrals to local providers, as needed. The ECU  Operation Re-Entry van is equipped with satellite communication and other technology to take medical, psychiatric and behavioral health services to veterans and their families where they live. 

Throughout the day, posters and displays can be viewed in the atrium area.

To register for the 2014 Jean Mills Health Symposium visit https://piratealumni.ecu.edu/ccon/events.do and search for events in February 2014.
Visit www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs.ah/jeamills.cfm for more information about the symposium.