How We Make A Difference

COVID-19 Response

During the second half of fiscal year 2020, COVID-19 began to affect our community and Wake Forest Baptist Health responded quickly.

Before COVID-19 was even declared a global pandemic, Christopher Ohl, M.D., professor of infectious diseases at Wake Forest Baptist, began providing weekly updates to media outlets and to those in our community and beyond, rapidly becoming a trusted and reassuring voice.

Wake Forest Baptist began implementing numerous measures to meet the needs of the community, including converting some primary care facilities to temporary respiratory symptom clinics.

As community volunteers began making homemade masks, Scott Segal, M.D., chair of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist and teams from the Manufacturing Development Center at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, conducted testing to determine the effectiveness of various mask designs.

To better fight COVID-19 in multiple regions of the country, Wake Forest Baptist joined with Javara, Inc. and Oracle to lead a community-based research study to collect daily information across a large population of participants in the mid- Atlantic and the Southeast through a web portal that allowed researchers to track the spread of the virus. John Sanders, M.D., chief of infectious diseases at Wake Forest Baptist, was the principal investigator of the study and our colleagues at Atrium Health were the first to join us in this effort.

Wake Forest Baptist played a large role in Winston-Salem’s Mask the City initiative, a community-wide effort to provide people with access to a mask. William Satterwhite, III, M.D., J.D., chief wellness officer at Wake Forest Baptist Health, designed the Nightingale WS Protective Mask and Renfro Corporation produced the mask. Within the first 40 days, almost 400,000 of the masks were distributed to those in the community.

Annual Event Raised a Record $373,000 to Support Cancer Patients

The annual Winterlark fundraiser, held in February 2020, to support cancer patients at Wake Forest Baptist Health’s Comprehensive Cancer Center was the most successful in its history, raising more than $373,000 for the Cancer Patient Support Program.

The Cancer Patient Support Program offers counseling, patient education, support groups and other services to the community free of charge at the Cancer Center. The program, which began in 1980, has been widely recognized as a model for cancer centers nationwide.

“Many of the loyal Winterlark volunteers have worked for years raising the funds to address the needs of thousands of patients. Importantly, the event raises awareness of the challenges all families face with a cancer diagnosis,” said Richard McQuellon, Ph.D., program director. “We are deeply grateful for the heartfelt support we receive that allows us to listen carefully to patient stories and to provide for the social and psychological needs of cancer patients and their families.”

The funds raised through the event provide half of the program’s annual operating budget.

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Brenner Children’s Hospital Once Again Verified as Level I Pediatric Trauma Center

Brenner Children’s Hospital, part of Wake Forest Baptist Health, once again received verification as a Level I pediatric trauma center – the highest level possible – by the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

Brenner Children’s became the first Level I pediatric trauma center in the state in 2011 and has maintained its verification ever since.

“Every member of our team is dedicated to providing the most advanced trauma care to injured children throughout our region while also helping elevate the level of care that is provided across the country,” said John K. Petty, M.D., pediatric surgeon and pediatric trauma medical director at Brenner Children’s Hospital. “Our commitment encompasses the entire spectrum of care, from injury prevention outreach and education, to collaborating with local paramedics and EMS transport teams, to treating and rehabilitating physical injuries and caring for the emotional needs of our young patients and their loved ones.”

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Cancer Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Received $25 Million from National Cancer Institute

For the second time in five years, Wake Forest Baptist Health was recognized for its expertise in conducting innovative cancer care research by the National Cancer Institute’s Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) with a multimillion-dollar grant. 

The six-year, $25 million award will build on work done through an $18 million grant received by Wake Forest Baptist in 2014. 

One of only seven awarded in the country, the grant is designed to focus on extending ongoing clinical research in cardiovascular and neurocognitive complications of cancer treatments and on improving patient well-being during cancer care. 

“In contrast to the majority of clinical trials for oncology that try to find new treatments for specific cancers, this program focuses on how different therapies, such as radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy, can affect the quality of life for patients and their caregivers dealing with the disease,” said Glenn Lesser, M.D., one of the principal investigators of the grant-funded research and a professor of oncology at Wake Forest Baptist. Co-principal investigator of the grant is Kathryn Weaver, Ph.D., associate professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist. 

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Mobile Health Clinic Launched to Expand Access to Health Care

In an effort to better deliver health care to individuals without health insurance, Wake Forest Baptist Health and the School Health Alliance of Forsyth County (SHA) partnered to create the Mobile Health Program, a new mobile clinic to bring health care directly to underserved neighborhoods and schools in Forsyth County. 

The mobile clinic is wheelchair accessible and features two private exam rooms and a counseling room. Uninsured adults and children can receive a wide range of services, including preventative care, treatment for minor illnesses, and management of chronic health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and asthma. 

“The goal of the mobile clinic is to provide convenient and high-quality health care to underserved patients who may not be able to afford care or have the means to get to a doctor’s office,” said Rachel Zimmer, D.N.P., director of the Mobile Health Clinic and clinic director of Wake Forest Baptist’s Community Health Alliance. “We want to be able to prevent or treat health issues for those in our community before they potentially turn into costly health crises for them and get them connected to the most appropriate care for their needs.”

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Share the Health Fair Offered Free Screenings and Other Services

Free screenings and other health-related services were provided to the community at the 21st annual Share the Health Fair, sponsored by Wake Forest Baptist Health, Wake Forest School of Medicine and the Northwest Area Health Education Center.

The event, held at Wake Forest Baptist’s Downtown Health Plaza, was staffed by a comprehensive team of family medicine physicians and specialists, along with medical students, PA students, technicians and other health care professionals.

213 adults were served at the free event.

Stop the Bleed Training for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

Wake Forest Baptist Health teamed up with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools to provide Stop the Bleed training to teachers, coaches and administrators in the school system.

Nursing staff and certified athletic trainers from Wake Forest Baptist demonstrated ways to provide immediate bleeding control to victims of a traumatic event before professional help arrives.

The school system also received more than 200 bleeding control kits for elementary, middle and high schools. The kits are similar to the trauma kits that Wake Forest Baptist has donated to state and local law enforcement agencies and other area school systems.

Wake Forest Baptist Health Awarded $6 Million Grant to Study Non-opioid Pain Management in Cancer Survivors

In an effort to find a non-pharmaceutical approach to pain management for cancer survivors, researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Health were awarded $6 million from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to test the effectiveness of a web-based pain management program. 

The five-year grant is a supplement to the $25 million grant Wake Forest Baptist received earlier in the year from NCI’s Community Oncology Research Program. 

“On average, as many as 40% of people who go through cancer treatment are left with some kind of residual and persistent pain,” said Donald B. Penzien, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist Health. “Unfortunately, cancer survivors have few viable treatment options other than opioids to help them manage their pain.”

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Wake Forest Baptist Health Began Providing Athletic Training Services to Yadkin County High Schools, along with Bleeding Control Kits

Wake Forest Baptist Health partnered with Yadkin County Schools to provide certified athletic trainers (ATCs) at Forbush and Starmount high schools, similar to existing partnerships with other area school systems.

The two ATCs are employed by Wake Forest Baptist, with one assigned to each high school.

“For many years, people in Yadkin County have trusted us with their health care needs, so this partnership comes naturally,” said Christopher Ina, M.A., ATC, Wake Forest Baptist’s manager of athletic training services. “We are pleased that Yadkin County Schools recognizes Wake Forest Baptist’s expertise in sports medicine treatment and injury prevention education as the perfect fit to provide these services to their high school student athletes.”

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In addition, Wake Forest Baptist’s trauma department donated 40 bleeding control kits to the school system, similar to the trauma kits that were provided to other area school systems and to state and local law enforcement agencies.

As part of the donation, almost 60 teachers from across the county received Stop the Bleed training classes, led by Jeff Hinshaw, P.A.-C., chief physician assistant in Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s emergency department. Members of the Yadkin County Rescue Squad, of which Hinshaw is also chief, aided in the training.

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Wake Forest Baptist Health Began Providing Sports Medicine Services to Winston-Salem State University

Wake Forest Baptist Health began collaborating with Winston-Salem State University to provide comprehensive sports medicine and orthopaedic services for the university’s football and men’s and women’s basketball teams.

As part of the agreement, Wake Forest Baptist provides team physicians who work with coaches and student-athletes on injury prevention, care and recovery, including management of concussion and other injuries; pre-participation clearances such as physicals and sickle-cell testing; behavioral health; and research opportunities that support improvements in athlete performance, safety and medical care.

“We are pleased that Winston-Salem State recognizes our expertise in sports medicine and orthopaedics and that they trust us to care for their student-athletes,” said L. Andrew Koman, M.D., chair of orthopaedic surgery at Wake Forest Baptist. “Our goal is to keep these athletes healthy, but when injuries occur, we want to help them get back on the court or on the field as soon as possible.”

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Wake Forest Baptist Health Received $25 Million NIH Grant Extending Existing Efforts to Expedite Research That Leads to Improved Patient Care

Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist Health, received its second Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ensuring continuation of the medical school’s existing efforts to quickly translate research into better clinical care.

The five-year, $25.4 million grant provides funding to train and build new skills within a translational research workforce, engage community stakeholders across Wake Forest Baptist’s service geography to provide improved clinical processes, develop an informatics system capable of managing huge data sets required across numerous, multi-site locations and enhance the speed, safety and quality of research that can be implemented into daily clinical care. 

“There are so many people living in our region who would benefit from the programs and research that will be funded through this CTSA grant,” said Julie Ann Freischlag, M.D., CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health, dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine and chief academic officer of Atrium Health Enterprise. “That is why it is so important for us to find ways to reach and engage these populations in rural and isolated communities where health care options are limited.”

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Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine Receives Major Funding Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM), part of Wake Forest Baptist Health, received a major research funding award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support its lung-on-a-chip technology as a model to develop chemical injury treatments.

The five-year $24 million program was approved with an initial contracting commitment of $13.5 million for the first 2 years.

Specifically, the funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, awarded over a five-year period, will validate how WFIRM’s lung-on-a-chip technology works in modeling the effects of chlorine gas ¬– deemed a potential national security threat – on human lungs and to develop treatments.

“Our lung-on-a-chip technology has grown out of our body-on-a-chip research, a system of miniature human organs created in the laboratory that can be used to further our understanding of the effects of inhaled chlorine gas and other toxins, as well as potential treatments,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., director of WFIRM. “We look forward to pursuing the long-term goal of this research with BARDA, which is to reduce the overall burden of in vivo testing in the development and management of products for human clinical use and to speed up the development of treatments.”

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