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Finding a path forward

How Sarah Farmer has found resilience and hope in the wake of tragedy

Around Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, most people know Sarah Farmer.

She’s a local — born and raised in Brunswick — and a nurse. When Brunswick County natives come to the hospital, they will often ask for her. Even though she is removed from day-to-day patient care now that she’s the hospital’s manager of accreditation and clinical regulatory, she still makes her own rounds, visiting friends and other members of the community.

“We may not be related, but it still feels like family,” she said.

And family is everything to Farmer, which makes the stories she’s begun to share quietly with individuals and small groups all the more difficult to hear.

Over the past decade, behavioral health issues have had significant effects on Farmer’s family, taking the lives of both of her children. Sometimes she can share these intimate details of loss without crying. Sometimes she struggles to hold back the tears. But she continues to share in the hopes that what happened to her family won’t happen to another.

“I don’t want any other family to go through what we went through, to feel like they just don’t have a way out or can’t find help,” Farmer explained. “This disease — it doesn’t just affect one person. It affects their entire family.”

Farmer’s story is an important one, like many others, and now is the time to spotlight them: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And although the COVID-19 pandemic has come to dominate healthcare conversations, behavioral and mental health issues continue to impact families like Farmer’s every day.

Across the country, 1 in 7 adults have a mental health condition of some kind. More than one-quarter of adults experience some type of behavioral health disorder in a given year. Brunswick County reported 162 heroin overdoses and 28 deaths from January to June of 2019. At the same time, the county has one mental healthcare provider for every 1,310 residents, while the national average is 490 to 1.

The pandemic is making matters worse. Almost half of Americans say the crisis is harming their mental health, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. At the same time, a federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress registered an increase of more than 1,000% in April, compared to the same time last year.

In 2019, Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center Foundation embarked on a campaign to address those issues. The goal is to raise $3.5 million to increase services and access to behavioral health treatment and resources, including expanding the hospital’s emergency department to include additional resources for behavioral health patients; creating a comprehensive behavioral health outreach network across the county; incorporating telemedicine into local schools to give children access to mental health resources; and supporting education programs on prevention and treatment.

The campaign is called A Path Forward, a name that resonated with Farmer.

“When the foundation decided on the name, I remember being so excited because that’s truly what this journey has been for me, a path forward,” she said. “I wanted to spotlight the need in the area for assistance and how Novant Health is stepping up to help provide for that need. I just wanted to do anything I could to help.”

While Farmer shares her story willingly with those who need to hear it, she doesn’t make a habit of looking back.

“We talk a lot about resilience at Novant Health,” she said. “One of the things I feel resilience means is the ability to move in a positive direction. Adversity does not have to take you down. It’s important that we rise up and move forward because nobody is going to benefit if we don’t. And from every horrible thing that happens, we need to try to pull some good.”

For Farmer, the good has come in the form of stronger community connections, deeper relationships with her three granddaughters and the ability to help those around her.

“If we put resources out there where people can see the light at the end of the tunnel, they’re going to go through it. But if they can’t see it or find help, they may not get out of bed,” she said.

These days, Farmer thinks a lot about the impact of COVID-19 on behavioral and mental health. She thinks about her healthcare colleagues who have been on the front lines. She thinks about the children who lost the remainder of their school year and the associated rites of passage — graduation, prom, college visits. She thinks about the fact that she can’t hug people, and Farmer is definitely a hugger.

“When I’m out in public, I don’t meet many strangers. I never have,” she said.

All of that reinforces the importance of continuing her work now, when the need is greater than ever before.

“You will be affected by this pandemic in some way,” Farmer said. “Let’s all come together and work on fixing it.”

You can do your part, too.

When you contribute to our campaign, A Path Forward, you’re helping expand access to lifesaving behavioral health services in the Brunswick community.

We hope you’ll consider a donation of any amount today.

Donate now

Charting a new path forward

In the midst of a pandemic, priorities have shifted, but this community’s generosity remains the same

Back in February, well before the COVID-19 pandemic created our strange, new reality, Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center Foundation hosted a disco party.

More than 250 people turned out, decked out in bell bottoms and sequins, all in support of Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center Foundation’s A Path Forward campaign, which is raising funds to support behavioral health initiatives and programs in the community. In total, the event raised over $40,000, said Cindy Cheatham, development program manager for Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center Foundation.

“It was wonderful, so fun and such a huge success,” Cheatham said.

Then came COVID-19.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things in and around Brunswick Medical Center. There are fewer people around the hospital every day, with elective procedures canceled and nonessential staff working from home. Telemedicine visits and face masks are the new normal. Any in-person events have been canceled, and fundraising priorities have shifted to support the hospital’s front-line workers through the Hope for Remarkable Team Aubergine Fund.

But one thing hasn’t changed: the community’s desire to support Brunswick Medical Center, any way they can.

Cheatham tells the story of a local church that took up an offering recently, which it used to purchase 300 meals from Hwy 55. The donation provided enough hot dogs and hamburgers to feed the entire hospital.

“So many people are buying food for our team, and restaurants have been sending meals. They’re suffering, too, and their willingness to donate to those on the front lines has been a testament to the generosity of our small community,” Cheatham said.

Shelbourn Stevens, president of Brunswick Medical Center, has seen a similar outpouring of support as the community rallies behind healthcare workers.

One community member with a 3D printer at home has been making face shields and delivering them to the hospital as he can, Stevens said. In addition, the volunteer team at the hospital has been routinely making cards and other gifts to thank front-line workers.

“One day, they went out and put them on the windows and windshields of team members’ cars. As people got off their shift, they found a note thanking them for being there,” Stevens said. “I had folks coming up to me after the fact with tears in their eyes. It’s those little gestures that go a long way.”

At the same time, many healthcare workers need more than thanks during this time. Some have spouses who have lost jobs. Others are struggling to find affordable child care or to find temporary lodging to avoid exposing their family members to coronavirus. That’s why Stevens and Cheatham have prioritized raising funds for the Hope for Remarkable Team Aubergine Fund above all else. The fund was created to ensure front-line healthcare workers can pay for what they need now so they can focus on the important work of helping patients and saving lives.

“We call them our ‘healthcare heroes.’ They are the ones fighting the battles to keep us all well, and this community wants to help,” Cheatham said.

The community has stepped up to support its healthcare workers before, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence back in 2018. And it will happen again now, Stevens said.

“As a hospital team and as a community, we’re going to rally together and get through this. We continue to grow to meet the needs of the community, and this pandemic is not going to slow us down,” Stevens said. “We’ve proven time and again we’re stronger than that, and we’re going to be even stronger on the other side of this.”

While the Hope for Remarkable Team Aubergine Fund remains the priority in the immediate future, the Brunswick Medical Center Foundation also believes the focus on behavioral health — the purpose behind the disco party just a few months ago — should not be lost. Brunswick Medical Center continues to offer virtual counseling sessions, and Cheatham said the need for increased access to that care will be more important after the pandemic than ever before.

“There are a lot of people out there who are right on the edge, and who knows what kind of job loss or financial loss has heightened those anxieties and those pressures,” Cheatham said. “On the other side of this, a lot of people are going to see the need for behavioral health services, and we want to be there to help”

You can help, too, by making a contribution

Either to the Hope for Remarkable Team Aubergine Fund or to support the A Path Forward campaign to increase access to behavioral health services throughout the community. More now than ever, our community must come together, for our front-line healthcare workers and each other.

Support our team members     Support A Path Forward


‘Leaders are made in moments like this’

From Hurricane Florence to COVID-19, Rob Stumbo is on a mission to help, no matter what

When you ask Rob Stumbo about the most poignant moment in his nursing career, he takes you back to 2018, when he was standing on the helipad of Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center in the hours immediately after Hurricane Florence had battered the surrounding community.

Stumbo had been on lockdown in the hospital with the rest of the medical team for six days while the hurricane raged. The North Carolina National Guard was conducting search-and-rescue missions and then bringing sick or injured patients to the emergency room.

“That was one of the hardest moments, professionally and personally, I ever had to go through,” said Stumbo, a nurse and house supervisor at Brunswick Medical Center. “There was a lot of fear. Everyone has their family in the community and their homes, and we left all that to be at the hospital and to provide for the community.”

Over the course of those six days, a patient came into the hospital who was in bad shape. She had to be placed on a ventilator, and, at a certain point, it became clear that she needed to be moved to a larger healthcare facility. Under normal circumstances, the team would call in a helicopter right away. In a hurricane, they didn’t have that option.

So Stumbo and his team dedicated all the resources they could to stabilize her condition until the hurricane passed. As soon as the storm broke, they sent for a helicopter, which landed at the hospital a short time later.

“I remember being out there when the chopper took her. I remember high-fiving everyone as they flew away. The sun was parting the clouds. It was like a movie,” Stumbo recalled. “It felt like we finally helped her.”

And helping people is all Stumbo has ever wanted to do.

It started when he became an EMT in his early 20s, after a friend had a diabetic seizure right in front of him. Seeing that made him feel helpless, and he hated it.

“I don’t like not knowing what to do,” Stumbo said.

So, he learned. Being an EMT taught him how to respond in a crisis, how to help. Then, when he met his wife, a nurse, she encouraged him to do more. She told him he’d make a great nurse, and he listened. Stumbo got his LPN, his RN, his BSN, and now he’s one month away from receiving his master’s degree in nursing.

“I do feel like nurses are the backbone of healthcare. We’re there for people in their worst moments. These are not experiences those people necessarily want to remember, but we get letters all the time thanking us,” Stumbo said. “It’s been challenging, but we feel a sense of duty. My dad will ask me sometimes how I do what I do, and I tell him, ‘If I don’t do it, who will?’ That’s the attitude that nurses have. We need to step up because we’re willing to be that person.”

Since Stumbo joined Brunswick Medical Center five years ago, he’s had to step up a lot. He’s the youngest house supervisor on staff by more than a decade — a promotion that he considers one of the highlights of his career. But more than that, the past few years have brought some of the most significant challenges the young hospital has ever faced.

Hurricane Florence was one of them. The COVID-19 pandemic is another.

“I was there during several early cases when we suspected COVID-19. It was a very scary time for everyone. We had great backup from our leadership, but no one knew how serious this situation was going to be,” Stumbo said. “When all this was really starting to ramp up, I went to every department and asked if they needed anything. I looked them all in the eye and told them, ‘Whatever happens, we’re going to figure it out.’”

House supervisors are the engine of the hospital, Stumbo said. They ensure everyone and everything stays on track. A big part of that involves making sure team members have a place to turn when they have questions or need assurance.

“I spend a lot of time consoling people,” Stumbo said. “Everything is changing every day, but we’re all in this together. And we really have become a more cohesive unit for the whole facility. It’s amazing to see how we’ve all adapted.”

He’s also been amazed at how different members of his team have risen to the challenge, Stumbo said.

In the earliest days of the pandemic, a man came to the emergency room at Brunswick Medical Center in cardiac arrest. Stumbo and his team didn’t know if he had tested positive for the virus. They just knew he needed help.

“This was very early on, when we were still figuring everything out, and there was no hesitation. Everyone jumped in. We fell right back into our practices of helping, even though at the same time we were taking a huge risk compared to what we were taking two weeks before,” Stumbo said. “The charge nurse risked his life to try and save that patient, and we see that every day with our people. They just care, and that’s the biggest thing that we’ll take away from this. Leaders are made in moments like this.”

Stumbo, too, is among those leading the charge. He’s on the front lines every day, so when he comes home to his wife and four dogs, he leaves his clothes on the front porch and heads straight to the shower. To protect others, he tries not to go anywhere except work and home. And he hasn’t seen his parents or his grandmother, all of whom live nearby, in a month.

He acknowledges that it’s hard, but at the same time, he doesn’t complain. He loves what he does, no matter how difficult the job can be.

“Helping people is all I’ve ever really wanted to do,” he said. “This job gives me an opportunity to make a difference, and I can see it every day.”

The World Health Organization has designated 2020 as “Year of the Nurse” in celebration of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. We are proud to celebrate and recognize our Novant Health nursing team members this year, and always, for the remarkable care they deliver to our patients and their loved ones every day.

Nurses like Rob Stumbo need our support more now than ever.

You can make a difference, too, by contributing to the Novant Health COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund, which was established to help nurses and other team members on the front lines of the pandemic with rent assistance, child care services and more.

Donate now

When behavioral health hits close to home

“Nobody needs to be perpetually sad all the time. No one needs to be drinking all the time. That’s not a happy, healthy lifestyle, and when we put it in our back pocket and say it’s too embarrassing to discuss, we’re compounding it.”

Lannin Braddock

When Lannin Braddock was asked to co-chair Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center Foundation’s A Path Forward campaign, she knew her answer was, “Yes.”

The goal of the campaign is to raise $3.5 million to implement programs and services that will help people with mental illness, substance misuse, eating disorders and other behavioral health issues.

“This work is needed in this county, for sure,” she said. “I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to be involved in something that could change the county, change the state, change the United States.”

But for Braddock, the campaign is also personal.

”Everybody has been affected by behavioral health. I have, too,” she said.

Braddock, who launched her own commercial real estate business a few years ago, spent most of her childhood outside Baltimore. She attended an all-girls boarding school, where she witnessed multiple behavioral health issues firsthand. Girls in her school tried to commit suicide, suffered mental breakdowns and struggled with anorexia and bulimia.

“It’s always been in my world, and I’ve always thought there was a need for services to be available — and not just in big cities,” Braddock said.

Then, it struck closer to home.

Braddock has a brother, eight years her junior. As she recalls, he was the child who always liked taking risks, who was always a little defiant.

“I always joked that, if I tapped the envelope, he blew it off the table,” Braddock recalled.

In high school, he started smoking marijuana and drinking. He also attended boarding school, which eventually offered him an entrée into harder drugs. By the time he was 21 years old, he was addicted to heroin, Braddock said.

“At his first inpatient rehab, the doctor looked at him and said: ‘You’ll always be a drug addict. I don’t even know why you’re here,’” Braddock said. “He was asked to leave the program after violating their no smoking policy, and when that happened, my brother said, ‘I can do this on my own.’”

He enrolled in an outpatient program and successfully stopped using heroin.

“He’s been sober for six years now,” she said. “He’s gone back to college to finish his degree and wants to go into law school. And I think he’s going to do great things.”

As he went through the process, he realized he was self-medicating, using alcohol and drugs to manage underlying mental health issues. He’s not alone:  One in seven American adults has a mental health condition. And more than a quarter have experienced some type of behavioral health disorder in a given year.

Unfortunately, treatment options are limited. In Brunswick County, there is one mental healthcare provider for every 1,310 residents (the national average is a ratio of 490 to 1). Those who seek help are forced to rely on the emergency room for referrals to mental health treatment facilities, which can take days.

That is having a profound and devastating impact on the population. In Brunswick County, there were 162 heroin overdoses between January and June of 2019. Of those who suffered overdoses, 28 people died.

Braddock is fully aware that, had her brother not followed the road to recovery, he could have become a similar statistic.

“I’m blessed and thankful that he beat the statistics and the odds and that he’s still with us today,” she said.

Now, Braddock is committed to helping other families get the support they need, when they need it. Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center Foundation’s A Path Forward campaign focuses on a few key areas, such as expanding the ER at Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center. Plans are to dedicate five new beds to behavioral health patients and create programs that will offer support to schools in detecting mental health problems earlier in students’ lives.

“There’s not a nurse in every school, so even if children are struggling with things at home, there’s no one who is equipped to handle information like that,” Braddock said. “Most mental health crises are well-hidden. You don’t see them, and there’s no one to look out for these kids. It’s a problem compounded with a problem compounded with a problem.”

That means the potential for impact is extraordinary should new programs be implemented.

“I go back to my brother. No one was hearing him. No one was checking up on him to make sure he was really OK,” Braddock said. “I don’t know that it would have changed his story, but he probably needed someone to say, ‘Hey, let’s talk.’ And maybe some choices would have been different.”

A Path Forward kicked off in 2019 and recently held its first major fundraiser, which raised more than $40,000. That puts the campaign well on its way to hitting its $3.5 million goal in the next few years.

“It feels like I’m actually accomplishing something that could set a standard or precedent for a huge issue that we all struggle with — every state, everywhere,” Braddock said.

“Nobody needs to be perpetually sad all the time. No one needs to be drinking all the time. That’s not a happy, healthy lifestyle, and when we put it in our back pocket and say it’s too embarrassing to discuss, we’re compounding it.”

So Braddock talks about it. She raises money for it. And she recommends others in the community do the same.

“Novant Health is a nonprofit health system,” she explained. “They are in the community to serve you, and we should be giving back to them so they can continue to serve our future. They can’t afford to do that without our support.

Want to do your part to enhance Novant Health’s behavioral health services in Brunswick County? There are plenty of ongoing opportunities to donate your time or resources to the cause. Click the button below to learn more about how you can make a difference.

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How you can improve access to life-saving healthcare in the fight against the coronavirus

For our healthcare community and our world, it appears we have a long road ahead of us.

COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus, has forced us into a fierce battle against its global spread, and healthcare professionals across the Novant Health system are on the front lines.

That’s why we need your support, now more than ever.

Novant Health foundations provide critical funds and resources across our network, which includes more than 1,600 physicians and over 28,000 team members who provide care at more than 640 locations. Last year, our team provided care to more than 4.4 million patients.

Our primary goal is to provide the lifesaving care our community needs, and we want to let you know we’re ready. We are working closely with state and local health officials, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to stay on top of this fast-moving situation. And we’re taking all precautionary measures to protect every member of our team.

The good news is, help has already begun to pour in. The David A. Tepper Charitable Foundation donated $1 million to Novant Health and Atrium Health. Novant Health foundations will receive $350,000 to support our team’s response to the pandemic across the state of North Carolina. Words alone cannot express our gratitude for such generosity.

And yet, in the coming days and weeks, we know we will need more. The impact of this disease is unprecedented, and we will need financial assistance to provide testing and medication to support patient care, as well as medical supplies and staff support to take care of our team members on the front lines. Their ability to care for our patients is critical, and we are committed to doing as much as possible to meet our team members’ needs.

Please stay safe and healthy. We will get through this crisis – together.

If there were ever a time to donate to our Novant Health foundations, it is now.

We are committed to helping our community every way we can, now and always, and we ask that you consider making a contribution today. Every dollar you donate helps us continue the important work of saving lives.

Donate now


For up-to-date resources and support on novel coronavirus, visit NovantHealth.org/coronavirus.

Our Mission

Novant Health foundations engage and connect donors to Novant Health programs and initiatives that save lives and improve the health of the communities we serve.

A generous grant, courtesy of a late Wilmington philanthropist, supports the fight against late-stage breast cancer diagnosis

This summer, the Breast Imaging Center at Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center (NHMBC) will start to see reduced wait times between appointments for diagnostic mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies, thanks to a generous grant from a late Wilmington philanthropist.

The Louise Oriole Burevitch Endowment, a component of the North Carolina Community Foundation, gave the Breast Imaging Center a $15,000 grant to help fund the purchase of a portable breast ultrasound scanner and iPad. The NHBMC Foundation will contribute additional funds toward the total cost of the system.

The new system will be in service by July 2020 and will provide diagnostic mammograms for women who are having breast issues or whose screening results indicate abnormalities. The Breast Imaging Center operates the only mobile mammography unit in Brunswick County and serves more than 650 patients monthly with screening and diagnostic mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies. The scanner will allow the center staff to serve more of those patients faster, which will help decrease late-stage diagnosis and, ultimately, reduce breast cancer mortality.

“We are sincerely grateful for this partnership with the North Carolina Community Foundation and the Louise Oriole Burevitch Endowment,” said Cynthia Cheatham, NHBMC Foundation development program manager. “Mrs. Burevitch’s compassionate, forward-looking generosity will help us provide the best in breast health care for the people of Brunswick County and surrounding communities.”

Before she passed away in 2014, Louise Oriole Burevitch gave generously to organizations in her community, with much of that giving focused on issues related to women and children. During her life, she never sought the spotlight for her charitable efforts. Instead, she lived modestly and earmarked the bulk of her estate for charitable purposes, including the $20 million endowment administered by the North Carolina Community Foundation.

The foundation has administered more than $161 million in grants since its inception in 1988.

‘We need to put some effort where we see the need, and the need is here, right now’

If you’ve been in North Carolina long enough, or you’re well-versed in behavioral health reform, you probably know the story of Willie M.

Willie M. was one of four children in North Carolina who was deemed delinquent — a lost cause — back in 1978. These children were violent and disruptive and plagued by various types of mental health problems. For a long time, the prevailing method of dealing with children like that was shipping them off to reform school or juvenile detention.

The case of Willie M. changed all of that, bringing about a transformation in how our state and others handle children struggling with behavioral health.

At the time all of this was playing out, Carolyn Felton was a teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina, working to help hospital- and home-bound students keep up with their work while they battled illnesses or healed from injuries. Some of those students were struggling with mental illness. Willie M. was one of them.

“I taught him in a hospital/home-bound setting while the case was going on,” she recalls.

“At the time, they didn’t offer enough services or support for families dealing with these children. And it only works if you have coordination with healthcare professionals, families and the schools. It’s got to be a team effort.”

The Willie M. case took a step in that direction, changing how the school system serves children with behavioral health issues. The case also became part of what pushed Carolyn to pursue a new career, in special education.

“I’ve always had a heart for students who are underserved,” she says.

Carolyn got her master’s degree in special education from UNC Charlotte and then spent a decade supporting students with a range of behavioral health issues. She started at Harding Senior High School, where one of her students spent his nights in the school bathroom for days on end. He had run away from his foster home and was no longer taking his medication, finding the bathroom preferable to the structure he had at home.

“He needed that structure, but he wanted to taste a bit of freedom,” she recalls.

Then, at McClintock Middle School, one student in Carolyn’s class struggled with anger and other mental health issues.

“He ended up going to jail for about 10 years,” she recalls. “We exchanged letters and Christmas cards. Now, he’s living in Charlotte and working as a cook in a restaurant. He’s making it.”

After a decade in special education, Carolyn decided to step away from her formal teaching position. She raised children and volunteered, taking the lead on Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Charlotte’s Web project, which introduced the community to the internet back in the 1990s.

“We had hundreds of volunteers who learned this new system. We’d teach it to them, and they’d go teach it to others. We’d make it available at places like the men’s homeless shelter to give them access, too,” Carolyn recalls. “Sometimes, I was so tired on the way home from that work that I’d fall asleep on the bus, and I’d have to call my husband to come get me. But it was so exciting.”

Then, about 20 years ago, Carolyn and her family moved to Brunswick County, where she embarked on a new career as a financial advisor. It was a profound shift at the age of 50, but one that allowed her to maintain her focus on helping those around her.

“Being a financial advisor is really about knowing how to use your resources and being nice to people and thinking logically,” she explains. “You give better advice when you care about people.”

And that is perhaps what Carolyn does best. In Brunswick County, she’s become deeply involved with Brunswick Community College, first as a volunteer and then as president of the Brunswick Community College Foundation. She’s also become an avid supporter of Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center Foundation.

“I’ve always felt like this is my home now. What can I do to make this a better place for everybody?” she says.

In Brunswick County, that involves a significant focus on behavioral health, which is often tied to issues involving drug abuse.

In 2016, a North Carolina Office of the Medical Examiner report found that opioid-related deaths had increased by more than 130%. Between January and June of this year, there were 162 documented heroin overdoses, which resulted in 28 deaths. At the same time, the rate of Brunswick County youths experiencing a mental health condition is on the rise. And while the average ratio of mental healthcare providers to residents is 490 to 1 nationwide, the ratio in Brunswick County is 1,310 to 1.

That means it can take days for a referral to a mental health treatment facility — far too long for someone in need.

“Brunswick County is in the midst of an addiction crisis, as is the state of North Carolina and across the United States. The only way to combat that crisis is to address the root problem, which is mental health,” says Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram.

That’s why Carolyn has become a passionate advocate for giving back to the community you call home.

“I want people to face what we have facing us and be a part of the solution. I want them to put something into their budget that helps support this, whether it’s a planned gift or gifting right now,” Carolyn says. “We need to put some effort where we see the need, and the need is here, right now.”

At Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center Foundation, we work hard every day to support the behavioral health needs of our community. Please join Carolyn and support our efforts by getting involved and giving back.

Together, we can strengthen our Brunswick County community by providing support to those who need it most.

Will you join us?

Make a gift today

Join Carolyn and become the life-saving partner our community needs

Remarkable care in Brunswick County starts with you

Twenty years ago, Carolyn Felton retired as a special education teacher and moved with her family to Brunswick County. She began a new career as a financial adviser and became active in her community. Over the last several years, her expertise as a teacher and her experience serving others has motivated her to take action where Brunswick County needs it most: improving behavioral health access.

“This is my home now. What can I do to make this a better place for everybody?” she asked herself.

That’s when she joined Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center Foundation’s campaign to improve access to behavioral health care. Without adequate support, our most vulnerable community members often turn to drugs. Between January and June of this year, 162 documented heroin overdoses were reported, which resulted in 28 deaths in our county alone.

“I want people to face what we have facing us and be a part of the solution. I want them to put something into their budget that helps support this, whether it’s a planned gift or gifting right now,” Carolyn says. “We need to put some effort where we see the need, and the need is here, right now.”

At Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center Foundation, we work hard every day to support the behavioral health needs of our community. We are committed to providing the treatment, outreach programs and community education necessary to meet this dangerous crisis head-on.

Your support will help Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center continue to be the life-saving partner our community deserves.

Read Carolyn’s full story

Join Carolyn in giving back

Will you join Carolyn and support our efforts by getting involved and giving back? Together, we can strengthen our community by providing support in the areas that mean the most to you.

Make a gift today

A Path Forward: Leading Brunswick communities toward better behavioral health


Help us address behavioral health distress

Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center will lead the way as a partner to those in need

With A Path Forward, we are committed to providing the treatment, outreach programs and community education necessary to meet this dangerous crisis head-on. Your support today will help Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center rise beyond being a great hospital and become the life-saving partner the Brunswick County community deserves.

Help make our dream a reality

Millions of Americans with mental health issues are not getting the care they need. Your support today will help us invest in the proper tools, solutions and integrated-care approaches to provide a safe place for behavioral health patients in Brunswick County.

“Brunswick County is in the midst of an addiction crisis, as is the state of North Carolina and across the United States. The only way to combat that crisis is to address the root problem, which is mental health.”

– John Ingram V, Sheriff, Brunswick County


Our communities in crisis:
Our youth are dying and families are overwhelmed


Brunswick County, Ground zero for opioid abuse: (January – June 2019)

  • 40 heroin overdoses in 30 days
  • 162 heroin overdoses to date
  • 28 deaths from heroin overdoses

Behavioral and mental health crisis:

  • Rate of Brunswick County youth experiencing a mental health condition continues to rise
  • Over 44 million American adults have a mental health condition – 1 in 7
  • More than one-quarter of adults in the U.S. experience some type of behavioral health disorder in a given year
  • One mental healthcare provider for every 1,310 residents in Brunswick County (national average 490:1)
  • Reliance on Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center ED at record numbers, overwhelming staff and resources
  • Days-long wait for referrals to mental health treatment facilities

Need for access and outreach

  • Need improved clinical access to behavioral health resources in each Brunswick community
  • Need improved transportation for behavioral health patients – 43% of the population live in rural areas with limited access to services and treatment

Our goal

Our goal is to raise $3.5 million to:


Click here to download a brochure about the capital campaign so you can share with others.


Join the Brunswick County champions who have pledged to help our community.

It is through community involvement that we become more like family and less like strangers. It is by the grace of your support that we are able to give back to the place that has given us so much.

A Path Forward Campaign champions:


The time to act is now.

Your support will mean the world to those in need.

You can learn more about how to support this campaign by contacting:
Cindy Cheatham, Development Manager
Phone: 910-721-1745
Email: [email protected]NovantHealth.org

Donate now