Innovations Born of COVID-19: How North Carolinians Broke Norms to Fix the Pandemic

Blog | July 6, 2021


The latest issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal starts out with a reminder that while the current state of public health in our world may feel unprecedented, we have been here before. Previous pandemics, writes Editor-in-Chief Peter Morris, helped create the field public health, as physicians and scientists innovated and experimented in the effort to combat them.


Now, public health is being reinvented within new “scourges of endemic, epidemic, and pandemic diseases.” We know so much more now, but there is still so much to learn. In this issue, read about how unlikely partners in Greensboro teamed up to meet the need for personal protective equipment; colleges and universities in Western North Carolina set aside competition to collaborate for the safety of their students, faculty, and staff; and grassroots organizers worked together with health care providers, nonprofits, and community members to make testing and vaccination more accessible for the most marginalized in our state.


“Countless individuals and institutions in North Carolina approached COVID-19’s challenges with a combination of innovative thinking and norm-breaking collaborations,” writes guest editor Susan Mims, interim CEO of Dogwood Health Trust. These actions “were born of necessity but hold great promise for continued applications.”


Click the links below to reach each article in the issue for more details, background, and a little bit of hope.


Commentaries & Sidebars


Innovations and Collaborations Born of Necessity During the COVID-19 Pandemic by Susan Mims, MD, MPH, interim CEO of Dogwood Health Trust


Innovations in Virtual Care During the Pandemic: Implications for the Future by Gregory K. Griggs, MPA, CAE, executive vice president and CEO of the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians


Telemedicine Utilization Trends During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency by Shannon Dowler, MD, FAAFP, CPE, chief medical officer of NC Medicaid, and coauthors from NC Medicaid, Accenture, and Community Care of North Carolina


Pandemic-driven Community Collaboration in Western North Carolina: The Silver Lining Around the COVID-19 Cloud by William R. Hathaway, MD, FACC, of HCA Healthcare and coauthors from Dogwood Health Trust, UNC Healthcare, AdventHealth, Buncombe County Health & Human Services, MAHEC, Duke LifePoint, Cherokee Indian Hospital, and Henderson County Health Department


Regional Relationships: Creative Collaboration for Prevention and Mitigation Among Western North Carolina Learning Institutions by Bryan Hodge, DO, MAHEC chair at the Department of Community and Public Health in Asheville, and Amy Joy Lanou, PhD, executive director of the North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness at UNC-Asheville


Climbing With Hope: How Food Banks and Community Came Together in COVID-19 by Hannah Randall, MBA, CEO of MANNA FoodBank


Digital Equity and High-Speed Health Born from the COVID-19 Crisis by Tracy Doaks, BS, president and CEO of MCNC


Housing Instability and Public Health: Implication of the Eviction Moratoria During the COVID-19 Pandemic by Stephen J. Sills, PhD, professor of sociology and director, and Bruce A. Rich, JD, MPA, project director, of the Center for Housing and Community Studies at UNC-Greensboro


In the Path of the Storm: North Carolina’s Response to COVID-19’s Impact on Historically Marginalized Populations by Michelle Laws, PhD, MA, assistant director of the North Carolina Division of Mental Health Consumer Support Services and Community Stakeholder Engagement Office, and Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, MD, FAAFP, associate professor of family medicine and director for health equity at Duke School of Medicine


Health and Wellness for Our Latina Community: The Work of the Latinx Advocacy Team and Interdisciplinary Network for COVID-19 (LATIN-19) by Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, MD, FAAFP, associate professor of family medicine and director for health equity at Duke School of Medicine and coauthors from Duke School of Medicine, Duke School of Nursing, and Stone Soup Consulting in Durham


Community Testing in High-priority and Marginalized Populations (CHAMP) by Shannon Dowler, MD, FAAFP, CPE, chief medical officer of NC Medicaid, and coauthors from NC Medicaid, Accenture, and NCDHHS


Deriving Analytic Insights During a Novel Pandemic by Michael E. DeWitt Jr., MS, senior data scientist at Cone Health, and coauthors from Cone, Duke University Health System, and Vidant Health


Laboratory: From the Shadows to the Front Line by Jacob W. Parrish, MPH, PMP, vice president of systems and procedures, and David Harlow, BS, Pharm D, vice president of operations of allied health and pharmacy, laboratory, and imaging at Vidant Health


Community Versus Crisis: How Cone Health Leveraged its Local Relationships to Meet the Demand for Masks by Michelle Schneider, MPA, CAP, vice president and chief philanthropy officer at Cone Health, and Holly West, BA, marketing and communications manager at the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce


Spotlight on the Safety Net: Bilingual, Bicultural CARE Health Ambassadors in Rural Western North Carolina by Sarah Dewitt-Feldman, MSW, core planning team for the Community Ambassador Real Quality project at Partners Aligned Toward Health and coauthors from PATH, UNC Gillings, and MAHEC


Running the Numbers: Capitalize on the Moment: Leveraging the COVID-19 Experience to Spur Low-Value Care Reduction in North Carolina by Corinna Sorenson, PhD, MHSA, MPH, assistant professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the Duke School of Medicine and Sanford School of Public Policy




Facilitating COVID-19 Testing in Historically Marginalized Populations by Leveraging Community Partnerships by Laurin Brown, MPH, research specialist, and coauthors with ACCORD and HOPE Program at NCCU


The Need for Syringe Service Programs Escalates as Opioid Overdoses Surge in North Carolina by Roy Stein, MD, professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UNC School of Medicine, and coauthors from UNC, North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, and Project Lazarus