Category Archives: Rowan

Right place, wrong job

Debbie Daniels’ journey from accounts payable to critical care nurse on the front lines of COVID-19

Debbie Daniels has been part of Novant Health since she was 16 years old.

She started in accounts payable. Her mom worked in that department and helped get Daniels a part-time job that she kept through high school and as she went off to college at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

In turns out, Daniels was in the right place but the wrong job.

By the time Daniels finished her freshman year of college, she was a certified nursing assistant. She got her bachelor’s degree in nursing and her master’s in nursing administration. And while she’s still at Novant Health more than two decades later, her role looks very different than when she started. Now, she’s a critical care nurse manager at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center.

“I have a natural ability to take care of people,” said Daniels, who has spent 16 years working in the ICU. “As a leader, I’ve always wanted to be an advocate for the bedside, to make sure that nurses have a voice. I keep what’s important to them at the forefront of all the decisions that are being made.”

That’s never been more important than now, when critical care nurses are on the front lines of a global pandemic.

“It’s definitely been stressful. My team has experienced a lot of fear and anxiety. They’ve experienced a lot of joy. We’ve seen a lot of people get better, even people we didn’t think would get better,” Daniels said. “We’ve also experienced a lot of sadness. We’ve seen several deaths, and my team has worked through being there for the patients and for the families.”

In this new normal, Daniels has built her days around serving her team. She starts by meeting with her assistant nurse manager and her team lead, who collectively review staffing and the status of all current patients, as well as anything they know might be coming. Then, she rounds on the patients, but also on her team, checking in to see how everyone is holding up on any given day.

Patient care has always been the priority in the ICU, but with COVID-19 and a strict limitation on visitors, patient support now comes in a close second, Daniels said. One recent day, a nurse spent 45 minutes in the room with a patient, doing FaceTime calls with family and friends. Another nurse donated her own iPad to the ICU because she understood how important a video call can be for both patients and their families.

“We are taking the place of being there for the family, letting them know who is here with them so they know the patient is not alone,” she said.

While Daniels celebrates all the work being done inside the walls of the ICU, she won’t take credit for it. For her, it’s all about her team.

“I couldn’t have made it through this if it wasn’t for my team,” she said. “We’ve come together to work for the betterment of the entire situation. We’ve made our surge plans in case we get overwhelmed with patients. We’ve been training people from other departments. Seeing that has really been exciting because sometimes we get in our silos and we don’t understand each other’s work environment. I think this has given everyone a different perspective.”

That includes Daniels. She has come to realize that this experience will only benefit her as she continues to grow as a leader.

“If you can handle this, you can handle anything,” she said.

These days, Daniels can feel that daily life is once again different. The anxiety and stress have decreased as her team has fallen into the new habits of a new normal. She now wears a mask all the time, even when she’s not in front of patients. But one thing hasn’t changed. Even though the pandemic has brought challenges unlike any she’s ever experienced, she loves what she does.

“I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than critical care nursing. I love it that much,” she said.

You can help support nurses like Debbie Daniels with a gift to the Hope for Remarkable Team Aubergine Fund.

Contributions to the fund provide front-line healthcare workers with the resources they need now so they can focus on the critical work of helping people and saving lives.

They’re giving everything they have to help us through an unprecedented time. Now, they need our help.

Donate now

Defying the odds

A life-saving gift from a man who wasn’t supposed to live past the age of 5

When Bradley Hill was born, doctors told his family he wouldn’t live past the age of 5.

He was born with spina bifida, a condition that occurs when the spine and spinal cord do not form properly in the womb. At birth, he also had a cleft palate and lip and hydrocephalus, more commonly referred to as water on the brain. His prognosis, doctors said, wasn’t good.

Since then, he’s had over 75 surgeries. He has a shunt in his brain and a rod in his back. But he has defied the odds: On Sunday, April 26, 2020, he turned 19 years old.

“He’s the sweetest boy ever with the best outlook on life,” said Sarah Sweatt, Hill’s cousin and a professor in the Department of Nursing at Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C.  

A motorized wheelchair takes him all over his family farm in Gold Hill, N.C. He loves to eat Frosties from Wendy’s and pureed bananas. He traveled to California to meet his idol, Steve Harvey. Last year, he graduated from high school, and his family hosted a big party, where he sang karaoke all night.

He’s the kind of guy who sings “Happy Birthday” — his favorite song — to total strangers when he learns it’s their special day. He’s also the kind of individual who donated his stockpile of medical supplies to help medical workers battling the COVID-19 crisis at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center.

“He likes helping people,” Sweatt said. “He was happy those supplies could be used instead of staying in storage.”

Although Hill has far surpassed expectations when it comes to his health, he still requires a great deal of medical care, so his family had large quantities of medical supplies on hand — some of which they knew they would not need and that would be better served protecting doctors and nurses on the front lines. The stockpile included boxes of sterile gloves and catheter kits that each contained a few pieces of personal protective equipment.

Sweatt also lives on the family farm, near Hill and his grandparents. She had already planned to deliver snacks to the nurses at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center in Salisbury — a gift coordinated through the Catawba College Nursing Department. When she learned about the contribution Hill wanted to make, she borrowed her husband’s truck and loaded it up with supplies, too.

“This pandemic is scary, and it’s overwhelming. I know a lot of the nurses working in the ICU and the COVID-19 units who are staying in campers, so they don’t expose their family members,” Sweatt said. “I have coworkers and friends who are on the front lines, and it’s got to be very difficult.”

Donations of personal protective equipment, like what Hill and his family were able to provide, make it easier for these front-line heroes to continue that work, while keeping themselves and their families safe. That’s what prompted Hill to act.

Apart from the donation, the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t changed life all that much for Hill. Given some pre-existing lung issues and a compromised immune system, he is considered “high risk,” so even under normal circumstances, he does not leave home often.

He prefers to spend his days on the family farm, riding around in his grandfather’s truck or on the John Deere Gator. He collects keys to everything, all gathered in a gallon plastic bag, and can tell you what each one opens just by looking at it. His entire extended family lives on the same 200 acres of land — people in the community call it Hill Farm — where there are four ponds, goats and chickens to tend to, and no shortage of vehicles to ride around in.

Still, there are things he’s looking forward to on the other side of the pandemic.

“He can’t wait to go to church. Our church has probably 80 members. He’ll come down the aisle and light the candles. He used to sing in church,” Sweatt said, turning her attention to Hill. “I haven’t heard you sing lately, though. That’s going to be first on your list.”

He does have one outing to look forward to in the near future. Sweatt recently brought one of the family’s horses to a local nursing home and walked it through the parking lot as part of a parade of cars full of families trying to bring some joy to the residents.

“There were cars honking everywhere, and the residents were very grateful,” Sweatt said. “I told Bradley I’m going to take him next time I go.”

Bradley Hill is one of so many generous people who have heard the call to support our healthcare workers and responded.

You can make an impact, too, by making a gift to the Novant Health COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund.

Contributions to that fund allow us to provide everything from financial assistance to life-saving personal protective equipment to our workers on the front lines, and every dollar counts.

Donate now

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

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.

New grants will give under- and uninsured Rowan County residents greater access to life-saving breast health services

Novant Health Imaging Julian Road uses a stereotactic biopsy table to perform a prone 3D stereotactic biopsy to detect breast cancer. Recent breast health grant awards will enable more patients to obtain screening and diagnostic services to reduce late-stage breast cancer diagnoses and mortality in Rowan County.

At Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, the Breast Health Services team has set an institution-wide goal to reduce late-stage breast cancer diagnoses and mortality. Now, the new year has brought them one step closer to that goal, thanks to new donations from several generous organizations.

Pfizer, the Salisbury-Rowan Community Foundation and AHRA: The Association for Medical Imaging Management awarded a total of $22,500 in grants to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation, which will fund no-cost mammography screening and diagnostic services for underinsured and uninsured Rowan County residents.

Those services will be available at Novant Health Imaging Julian Road and mobile mammography events throughout the county, where staff will provide screenings, breast health education and diagnostic services to qualified residents.

To learn more, contact Clinical Navigator Kimberly Robinson at 704-210-6908 or [email protected].

Remember a loved one or honor a special person in your life

Purchase a stone paver to commemorate a loved one, a caregiver or special occasion and help pave the way for healing. All engraved pavers will be installed in the courtyard in the beautiful and serene Hurley Healing Garden at the Novant Health Wallace Cancer Institute.

Stone pavers are available in small, medium, large and logo. The small paver is 6” x 12”, costs $100 and will accommodate four lines of text with 18 characters per line, including spaces. The medium paver is 9” x 12”, costs $200 and will accommodate six lines of text with 18 characters per line, including spaces. The large paver is 12” x 12”, costs $300 and will accommodate eight lines of text with 18 characters per line, including spaces. The logo paver is 12” x 12”, costs $400 and will accommodate five lines of text with 18 characters per line, including spaces plus the logo.

Funds raised will enhance the ability of Novant Health Rowan Medical Center to tackle some of the most difficult and complicated medical challenges today, as well as be prepared to face issues that will confront our region tomorrow. To learn more about our Wallace Cancer Institute, visit

Purchase a stone paver

2019 Patrons’ Ball

Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation celebrated its 30th anniversary with the 2019 Patrons’ Ball on Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Country Club of Salisbury. Over 160 individuals attended this year’s fundraiser complete with cocktails, dinner, dancing, and music by “The Entertainer’s Band.”

Thank you to all who attended and helped us raise more than $100,000 to support the new linear accelerator in the Wallace Cancer Center.

The Wallace Cancer Center is a $24 million, 32,000-square-foot center that will open in July of 2020. The center will consolidate all cancer care services and programs in one location. The consolidation will profoundly impact patient quality of life by personalizing patient-centered care, improving accessibility, increasing affordability, enhancing care coordination and providing cutting-edge treatment.

Community members interested in contributing to the Wallace Cancer Center can call 704-210-6880 or visit

Event photo gallery

Click below to view more photos from the 2019 Patrons’ Ball or click here to view the full album.

Donors honored at annual appreciation & recognition event

Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation celebrates and remembers their 2018 donors

On May 30, 2019, Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation celebrated the generosity and kindness of our donors during the annual Donor appreciation dinner and recognition ceremony. 

Over 140 guests attended the event held at the Catawba College Peeler Crystal Lounge. The evening also served as a night of remembrance to memorialize seventeen special friends of the foundation who passed away in 2018.  

The Wilson L.Smith Philanthropic Award was presented to Lee and Mona Wallace for their support of our new cancer center.  Nancy Linn received the second annual Tippie H. Miller Volunteer of the Year Award in honor of her many dedicated hours in service to the Rowan Medical Center.  

The new 32,000 sq ft Wallace Cancer Center will house all of our wonderful cancer care services in one convenient location.  Our goal is simple: make it as easy as possible for the patient and their family to receive the care they need.

Philanthropic award: Lee and Mona Wallace
Volunteer of the Year (left to right): Sharon Miller, Nancy Linn, Bobby Miller. Nancy Linn is Volunteer of the Year and the award is named after Tippie Miller – Bobby and Sharon’s mom.

All recipients (left to right): Jimmy Linn (Nancy’s husband), Nancy Linn, Whitney Williams (Mona and Lee’s daughter), Lee Wallace, Mona Wallace, Lane Wallace (their other daughter)

Photo gallery

Learn more about the Wallace Cancer Center

A team of guardian angels makes a big difference

When a patient is transferred to hospice care, a new journey begins. Patients, caregivers and family members are often frightened and exhausted, both emotionally and physically. They don’t know what to expect and can feel lost. As a daughter and her mother (who wish to remain anonymous) found out, it is a time when receiving the right kind of support and care can make all the difference.

“By the time my mother and I contacted hospice, we were desperate for help! We weren’t sure what to expect. From the moment the Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Hospice Team entered our home, they gave both my mother and me great physical, emotional, and spiritual care”

According to the daughter, the hospice care team at Novant Health went above and beyond to provide the care and support that helped bring peace and comfort to her family, at a time when they really needed it.

“The extra attention they provided enabled me to better care for my mother with less stress and more confidence.”

Inspired by the team, and in memory of her mother, she donated to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation. “In honor of Lisa Williams RN, Karen McAbee RN, Kelly Woods-Medlin CNA, Julie Caldwell RN, and the Triage Nurses, I hope these gifts express how appreciated, valued, and loved these Guardian Angels are”.

A ceremony will be held during which all the medical professionals mentioned above will receive a Guardian Angel pin to commemorate their incredible compassion, dedication and hard work.

Grateful patients program

Gifts from grateful patients help Novant Health achieve its mission of improving the health of our community, while also honoring the medical team that provides remarkable care.​ For more information about the Guardian Angel program at Novant Health Foundation, please visit

Whitehead Stokes Society 9th annual dinner

On April 9, Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Foundation hosted their ninth annual Whitehead-Stokes Society dinner at the Country Club of Salisbury. More than 80 members were in attendance for this year’s dinner. 

Whitehead-Stokes Society dinner

Dr. Gavin Misner described what it is like to be a surgeon taking care of a patient with cancer. Julianne Goodman, speaking on behalf of her mother-in-law Mary Goodman, described her most recent treatment following her breast cancer diagnosis.

The Whitehead-Stokes Society was created to recognize community supporters who made cumulative gifts of $1,000 or more the previous fiscal year. This year we have a total of 184 couples/individuals that are members of the Whitehead Stokes Society.