Greenville Magazine - Winter 2023

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G reenville

New leader in nursing




LIFE in the EAST WINTER 2023
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Bobby Burns

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Greenville: Life in the East is a publication of The Daily Reflector and Adams Publishing Group ENC. Contents may not be reproduced without the consent of the publisher.

NEW LEADER AT ECU HEALTH: Trish Baise says nursing has no limits


NEW BOOK A NATURAL FOR PIRATE: Lifelong fan shares experiences from ‘20 Rows Up’


NEW APPROACH AT THE COA: Agency adapting to to meet needs of today’s seniors GPD comfort K9 trains to keep minds at ease



NEW COACH FINDS HOME AT ECU: Mike Schwartz says move to Greenville has been rewarding


Welcome to the What’s New edition of Greenville Magazine. January is a great time to look ahead so we have written about a few of the new people, places and friends you might see in 2023. From ECU Health’s new nursing executive and the Pirates’ new basketball coach to new activities from the Council on Aging and a new therapy dog that will surely be a friendly face at the Greenville police department, the Greenville area has lots to share. Of course more is happening than we can squeeze onto these pages, but we hope the stories here capture the energy folks have while leaving 2022 behind. We hope you enjoy the roundup, and happy New Year!

— Bobby Burns

JANUARY 2023 Greenville Magazine 3
LIFE in the EAST WINTER 2023
G reenville
On the cover and page 4-5
Photo by Willow Abbey Mercando ECU Health’s new chief nursing executive, Dr. Patricia Baise, is tasked with building a nursing culture that helps recruit and retain talented nurses and caregivers.

New leader says nursing has no limits

Trish Baise brings experience as ECU Health’s first chief nursing executive

Hospitals and health systems across the United States need nurses, and ECU Health is no exception.

In fact, the health system that serves 29 counties in eastern North Carolina needs 879 new nurses with 560 of those positions going to the medical center in Greenville.

Because many eastern North Carolina counties seeing population drops, especially among young adults, leaders at the health systems said they generation of caregivers locally and across the nation.

One way they are tackling that task is by creating a new position, chief nursing executive, and role.

“The creation of the one position and the appointment of Dr. Baise to lead in this role allows our organization to innovate and collaborate to further build a nursing culture that helps recruit and retain talented nurses and caregivers who are dedicated to serving our region,” said Brian nurses is at the heart of health care, said Floyd, who began his career as a nurse. be responsible for the integration and coordination of

the nursing practice for the health s000ystem.

She’ll also partner with East Carolina University and nearby community colleges to identify current and future needs in nursing to develop the future workforce.

“How do you partner and create an environment where nurses thrive, where nurses can be successful, where nurses feel like they have a and foremost. What does nursing feel like at ECU Health.”

Baise, who started her position days meeting key individuals across the region.

That includes ECU Health doctors, nurses, key administrators and the deans of nursing at area universities and community colleges.

During her second week on the job, Baise visited the ECU Health

the hospital so nurses can see she is accessible. Baise also wants experience will guide future decisions.

She also is taking the data she received and put it in context.

“That means seeing all these facilities and understanding all the great things they have working for them but also really getting to know the voice of nursing,” Baise said.

4 Greenville Magazine JANUARY 2023 JANUARY
Trish Baise started her career about 30 years ago as an air ambulance paramedic. Photo by Willow Abbey Mercando Baise said ECU Health is blessed with an incredible group of nurses who are in a great position to lead the way in terms of delivering care in a rural footprint.

Baise has seen new roles given to nurses during her 30-year career.

“I think that is part of what you see when you talk about the burnout in nursing and the overburden in

quality care focused on the patient.”

reduce the additional workload given nurses. nurses.

doing the job. We are blessed here with an incredible preparation and are in a great position to help us you deliver care in a rural footprint as well as a large personal story.

Health care was not the career Baise planned to pursue.

Born in Michigan and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Baise

Once she reached college she knew she was on the wrong path. she said.

She was still working on the helicopter when she

After her daughter was born, she returned to school and earned an associate’s degree in nursing.

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Baise trained as a firefighter and paramedic before earning her first nursing degree.
See LEADER | 15

NEW BOOK was natural for Pirate fan

Lifelong ECU devotee shares experiences from from ‘20 Rows Up’

At some point during his decades of following the East Carolina football team both inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and across the country, people started telling Carl Davis he should write a book about it.

After all, he had spent a long time and traveled thousands of miles trailing the Pirates through countless ups and downs, coaching eras, great seasons, unforgettable players and knockdown, drag-out games. So he did it.

Davis compiled some of his favorite moments, teams, rivalries and unique experiences into the recently published book titled, “My View From 20 Rows Up: One Story of ECU Football.”

A Hickory native

an ECU game as a child because his grandfather was a Lenoir-Rhyne fan traveling to watch his own favorite team play, Davis estimates he has

rolled up 190,000 miles following ECU football. His book is in many ways a testament to what was learned on that lengthy journey.

“People ask me, ‘Why did you travel to all of those games?’ When I started this, if you wanted to see the Pirates play, you went to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium,” Davis said. “And if you wanted to see them play on the road, you had to get in a car or an airplane to go see them. There was no television for a vast majority of our away games in the ’90s and even early 2000s. Now if you want to see women’s lacrosse, you can. You didn’t use to have that opportunity.

“Once the games became more available on television, I was enjoying so much going to these games and making mini-vacations out of some of these trips, it just kind of snowballed, and here we are.”

Davis has been connected to ECU football since that down even in retirement. But writing a book about it was a completely new challenge.

“I knew nothing about writing a book, I mean zero,” said Davis, a now-retired traveling electronics salesman for the

Greenville Magazine JANUARY 2023 JANUARY
"My View From 20 Rows Up,” the new book from lifelong ECU football fan Carl Davis, shares his experiences following the team over the years. Carl Davis accepts a commemorative East Carolina football from the ECU Alumni Association.

year project, but I didn’t touch it for about two years.”

In the summer of 2021, Davis decided he was going to retire at the end of the year. Not long after that retirement, he picked the book up again and really got serious about became available on Amazon last month.

As for what inspired him to actually sit down and start rattling out his ECU memories and game day experiences on a keyboard, the suggestion came from those he met or spent time with or traveled with on those many ECU football escapades.

“I think it was that others were telling me that,” Davis said. “We went for 23 or 24 years and we only missed four football games, home and away. And we missed those because my wife broke her leg when we went to Philadelphia for the Temple game.

with BYU.

It’s not just about the Xs and Os of the given games, either, but about the entire experience of being there — the city, the campus, the tailgate lots and ultimately each stadium’s atmosphere. It’s about retelling some of those you-had-to-be-there moments and about ECU’s relationship with each opponent.

The common theme of all of the games in all of the places is fellow ECU fans. Every one of Davis’ football memories detailed in his book is either something he wants to impart on newer Pirate fans who he thinks should learn about those teams and games and players, or something he knows he wants to retell to people who witnessed those things with him.

… And then I would tell the people some stories that would have occurred on those road trips, and they would say, ‘Man you ought to write a book,’ and I guess I listened to them at some point.

“During all those years, when I would run into somebody and we would ask, ‘Where were you last weekend?’ I would say I was in Syracuse or I was in Miami or I was in El Paso. And they would say, ‘What were you doing in El Paso?’ And I would tell them I was a football game. And then I would tell the people some stories that would have occurred on those road trips, and they would say, ‘Man you ought to write a book,’ and I guess I listened to them at some point.”

In that spirit, a bulk of “My View From 20 Rows Up” is devoted to breaking down, opponent by opponent, the Pirates’ many primary foes regionally, in the team’s multiple conference stints, in bowl games and in other opponents beginning with Appalachian State and ending

Author Carl Davis

“When you’re on the road, you’re not necessarily isolated,” Davis said. “You run into a lot of people, whether it’s coaches, whether it’s players or players’ families.”

Davis said simply showing up at a restaurant in another city wearing an ECU shirt often created an instant connection with other Pirate fans in town for the game.

published author Bethany Bradsher to help with the editing Charles to write the book’s forward.

The book also contains what Davis thought were some relevant superlatives, as well as a section on people he thinks have made substantial impacts on ECU.

“My View From 20 Rows Up” is available from Amazon and locally at UBE and Stadium Sports.

JANUARY 2023 Greenville Magazine 7
” “
The Daily Reflector Davis traveled to nearly every ECU game, home and away, for more than 20 years, allowing him to see quarterback Shane Carden show his Pirate Nation pride after scoring a touchdown in Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack Davis missed only four games in more than 20 years, home and away, allowing him to see wide receiver Dwayne Harris run past Central Florida’s Kemal Ishmael for a 49-yard gain during the first half of a game in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010.

New approach at the Council on Aging

Agency adapting to to meet changing needs of today’s seniors

At the start of a new year, the fact that exercise classes are going strong is hardly newsworthy. But what might come

Thanks, in part, to aging Baby Boomers, business is booming at the Pitt County Council on Aging, where participants 60 and older can choose anything from chair them here is more than just a new year’s resolution. It’s the evolution of the concept of the senior center, which just this month changed the sign in front of its County Home Road location to read Council on Aging Greenville Senior Wellness Center.

“When I think of a ‘senior center,’ I think of a bunch of old people sitting around a table knitting, crocheting, playing may do some of those things, but it isn’t really what we do. The people today who are 70, they’re active; they’re engaged. They don’t want to knit and crochet and play bingo. They want to be going.

“We’re trying to reinvent aging,” he said. “… We’re kind of like the Chuck E. Cheese for seniors.”

That means making some additions to the menu at the in 1975, to serve the older adult population in Pitt County by helping them maintain independence in their homes. Back then, the mission was centered on transportation and nutrition with the 1981 start of Meals on Wheels, which served 70 meals a week.

More than four decades later, that program has grown to 400 meals a day, with another 100 people on a waiting list. To help fund those meals and to satisfy a hunger for more and services designed to promote healthy living. A glance at

the agency’s calendar reveals a cruise-ship-like schedule of activities from landscape painting and woodcarving to ping pong and soul line dancing.

“You see people maybe 80 years old out here doing that breath just walking around here, and they’re out there doing that.”

Stella Williams, 73, who started coming to the center more than a year ago, has enrolled in sign language and the “Food class taught by Journonya Davis.

“I strongly believe some of them are not really that old,” Williams said, joking about her classmates, who had just worked up a sweat working out to the 1978 disco hit “Y.M.C.A.” “They just come here and take lessons.”

at the center each week, said it is not unusual for observers to be surprised at the level of intensity they see in a senior adult class.

“All seniors are not created equal,” said Davis, who relocating to eastern North Carolina. “This class is very

Silver tsunami

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a large segment of the country is on the fast track to senior adulthood, with an estimated 10,000 people a day turning 65. By 2030, older adults are expected to account for as much as 20 percent of the U.S. population. That could translate to some 40,000 senior adults in Pitt County.

week who are new to the area, many having relocated from the Northeast. That’s 60 new people a month to add to the

8 Greenville Magazine JANUARY 2023 JANUARY
Guests enjoy the Time Of My Life 2022 Senior Citizen Prom at the center in June. (Elton Collins)

hundreds already walking through the doors.

Nearly three years after the coronavirus pandemic forced the center to close its doors, it is a welcome sight. While the agency managed to keep its Meals on Wheels delivery service open throughout the pandemic, COVID kept the facility closed to seniors. But the local Council on Aging, unlike many government-run agencies across the state and nation, was able to reopen after only three months. Since then, attendance has increased by about 30 percent.

“I think the pandemic, in some bizarre way, actually helped us because so many seniors depend on interacting and relationships,” Zeck said. “People are looking for fellowship. the pandemic.”

In February 2022, the agency opened a 7,000-square-foot expansion at a cost of $1.5 million, funds that were raised during the pandemic.

“That says a multitude of things,” Zeck said. “It says the community’s behind us. It says there’s a multitude of need and we are bursting. We’re even getting to the point of full capacity of the new building.”

Part of the reason for that, he believes, is that the Council on Aging is adapting to the changing needs of seniors. In recent years, the agency has shifted programming to host workshops that teach seniors how to use their new cell hymnology and “Wine for Dummies.”

Zeck said. “We have chocolate sculpting classes, we have piemaking classes, we have stained glass classes. We have things that young people don’t even do.

“When I look at our newsletter, I’ll go back to one of our directors and say, ‘When did we start doing this?’” he said,

laughing. “They want to learn.”

Sometimes, that means learning to knit, crochet or quilt, skills that many seniors have already mastered but others

JANUARY 2023 Greenville Magazine 9
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Fitness classes are a big draw at the Pitt County Senior Wellness Center on County Home Road “All seniors are not created equal,” said Journonya Davis, one of the instructors. “This class is very energized. We move a lot.”
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New fourlegged friend

From rescue to rescuer: GPD comfort K9 trains to keep minds at ease

Training is underway for a new asset to the Greenville

learning to follow orders and copious physical activity. He might not even be 1 year old yet, but Chase, the department’s Comfort K9 to be, is on the case.

Drake Parker and Angela Parker, the husband and wife team at Top Dog Academy on Ligstrum Trail, are coaching the roughly 9-month-old golden retriever pup in obedience as Chase gears up to be a therapy dog for the department. Duties will entail being a soothing presence for victims,

“There’s no better way to bridge a gap, especially for kids,” said Drake, an Army and National Guard veteran who has been training dogs for 25 years. He said Top Dog is teaching Chase free of charge out of respect for law enforcement.

Right now, Chase is still a puppy. He gets excited when his handler Kristen Hunter, the police department’s public hello. But Drake said that he is developing well, and that

At Top Dog, that includes learning commands like sit

Drake said, because it provides mental tools for them to self-soothe and remain calm in places that could spark excitement. Those skills will serve Chase well during his Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog tests, the latter of which presents animals with various stimuli as they go about tasks to gauge their demeanor.

he was discovered by Greenville Animal Protective Service

passing vehicles and turned him over to the Pitt County

Somehow, no one came to claim the puppy. For Hunter, who has spent many years and a few police chiefs advocating for a department therapy dog, it was kismet.

12 Greenville Magazine JANUARY 2023 JANUARY
Drake Parker of Top Dog Academy in Greenville is training Chase in a variety of skills needed to be a therapy dog including obedience, patience and the ability to self-soothe and stay calm.

“When a 4-month-old golden retriever just happened to turn up, it was very hard to resist that,” Hunter said. “I always wanted it to be a rescue dog. I’m very passionate about rescue animals. All of my pets over the years have been rescue dogs, so the fact we were able to rescue him and then he in turn will be rescuing others during their times of trauma, I think that just adds a nice touch to it.”

A poll was sent out on social media chance to pick from the three names that received the most votes. A lot of of the cartoon Paw Patrol, which features a German Shepard police puppy named Chase. The kid caucus won out.

Hunter said Chase’s main focus is going to be on employee wellness.

“Its been a rough couple years for around a dog can reduce anxiety, reduce your heart rate, increase your oxytocin and endorphins. Being around a dog can turn a bad day into a good one.”

Chase is a golden retriever, a breed whose temperament and familial nature make it a great therapy dog, said trainer Drake Parker. Duties will include being a soothing presence for victims, witnesses and officers as they deal with traumatic events.

perfect breed for the job due to its temperament and familial nature.

Hunter said that she’ll be lucky to have Chase too. Her job entails interacting with media and hearing details about murders, assaults and other violent crimes. He currently lives with her when he’s not training at Top Dog and has struck up a rapport with Hunter’s dog, Nash, and her family.

The public is excited to see Chase but Hunter wants to keep expectations measured. There is no set timeline for making appearances at events. Most few, if any, had Chase’s upbringing to deal with. Angela Parker said that’s what makes him special.

“It’s easy to pick the perfect puppy to make a therapy dog,” Angela said. tougher background, especially in how he was found and where he was found.

“He’s going to make a perfect therapy dog and I love it because he didn’t have a perfect start.”

Chase is already getting chances to prove that as part of his exposure training. Hunter said she was contacted by to have Chase visit and raise its employees’ spirits after a particularly grueling stretch.

“They serve 30 counties in North Carolina and have said. “It’s very tough to unsee some of that.

“I took Chase to the morgue and he met all of the nice never seen all of their employees that happy in a very long time.”

dog, makes rounds at the courthouse and at public events.

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never got around to pursuing. Other times, it means taking up something completely foreign to them, like mahjong, a tile-based game developed in China that is similar to the card game rummy.

Alison Johnson was not sure what to expect when she didn’t sound like a very exciting place for the 69-year-old, who had recently retired.

“I thought senior center, they’re probably going to be a lot of older people,” she said. “I don’t want to feel like I’m old. I want to be able to still feel young and do things.”

But what she found was people who share her interests, ever since, although she still doesn’t like the word “aging” in the name.

“It shouldn’t say that because it makes people think old,” she said. “Becoming a senior and becoming retired is not bad. It’s a lot of fun.”

Zeck hopes the emphasis on wellness — physical, social and emotional — will continue to attract people.

“People hate to admit that they’re aging, but we’re all doing

it,” he said. “Who says just because we’re getting older we can’t have fun? For me that’s what this place is about, people coming having a good time, feeling like their lives matter. There’s value here.”

Pitt County Council on Aging operates six senior wellness centers throughout Pitt County. For more information about programming and services, visit

14 Greenville Magazine JANUARY 2023
From RESCUE | 13
Executive Director Rich Zeck speaks during an opening ceremony for an expansion at the center in 2022. Drake Parker of Top Dog Academy in Greenville is training Chase in a variety of skills needed to be a therapy dog including obedience, patience and the ability to self-soothe and stay calm.

to return to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Baise and her family eventually moved to Tennessee to working in the hospital, including a stint in cardiovascular care in emergency medicine.

Baise said it was in Tennessee that she fell in love with rural health care in a system that served northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

“Interestingly enough it was a 29-county region. It’s funny to come to another 29-county region with a rural footprint with similar challenges,” she said. “Not a lot of growth in terms of the population, a lack of Medicaid expansion … but I loved, loved my time serving in that community for 11 years.” It was during this time she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees.

Baise said she became a nurse instead of a doctor families.

“Doctors oversee the care but nurses deliver it,” she said. “For me it was being much more connected to the patient and being about to have that opportunity to be there at the darkest times, the best times and shepherd patients and family members. Your time with the patients tends to be longer, that’s what resonated with me, it’s very hands-on.”

multitude of options.

“There are almost no boundaries in nursing. You can do so many things whether it’s leadership or clinical care or other things that support patient care,” Baise said. “That’s what resonated with me. You can continue to evolve … and there are very few boundaries.”

Baise served as CEO of Franklin Woods Community Hospital and Woodridge Hospital as well as CEO at the system-level of the behavioral health division of Ballad Health with operations across two states. She joined ECU Health from Atrium Health Cabarrus.

JANUARY 2023 Greenville Magazine 15
From LEADER | 5
Photo by Willow Abbey Mercando Baise chats with nurses Pam Di Mattina, left, and Amy Hines at the Jo Allison Smith Tower at ECU Health Medical Center in January.

New coach finds home on ECU hardwood

Mike Schwartz says transition to Greenville has been rewarding

Mike Schwartz has been coaching basketball as a collegiate assistant for nearly two dozen years with a number of programs around the country, so it’s natural for the new East Carolina men’s basketball coach to look like he’s done this before.

In reality, Schwartz is learning in real time. coach after spending the past seven seasons as at Tennessee. His time as a collegiate assistant goes back to 1999 and spans eight schools.

Greenville. The Pirates are well into American Athletic Conference play and the foundation has been laid.

When Schwartz thinks back to the beginning, he remembers couple of months in town. His family — wife Stephanie and

two kids Sydney and Samantha — remained in Knoxville, Tenn., while he got started at ECU in March.

He and his assistants stayed in a lake house while looking for more permanent housing. It felt like the college years all over again.

challenge for me, as exciting as everything was,” Schwartz said. “Stephanie, Sydney and Sam were back in Knoxville and I was here. We had what we called the fraternity house. All of us living together, all the coaches living together.”

His family moved to Greenville, and by the summer everything was in place for the upcoming season. His family settled in, too, as his daughter Sydney competed in a national soccer tournament in July through an AAU team based out of Wilson.

It was those days starting out that Schwartz remembers as worthwhile. The chaos even allowed for a special bonding time.

16 Greenville Magazine JANUARY 2023 JANUARY
The Daily Reflector ECU head coach Mike Schwartz during a game against Temple in December.

When he left the coaching frat house and returned to Tennessee to visit his family around Mother’s Day, his daughter Samantha asked if she could return to Greenville with him.

what dad’s new job was like. Schwartz agreed and the two hit the road.

“Sam has been my road warrior,” he said. “So Sam came back with me the Monday after Mother’s Day, and the whole month of May she traveled with me and the Pirate Club all around the state. And she was there for everything. She was there at speaking engagements, we did one in Raleigh where it was kind of a bar with a lounge and she was sitting in the back, kind of in the green room in the back of the theater.”

a group of attendees that he was introduced to the college

after arriving in Greenville and a group of diners had started the familiar ‘Purple-Gold’ chant as his party was leaving the restaurant.

“We were walking out and all of a sudden a table of about 10 people started screaming ‘Purple!’ and we looked at them was (assistant coach) Riley Davis who knew that when someone chants purple, you say gold. So we went back and forth.

“The fan base and the passion of this community is awesome. ECU Pirate fans, this fan base, they come to see the Pirates.

They don’t come to see the opponent. … The fan base here is passionate and they come here to support the Pirates and that’s so awesome. As a college coach, that’s what you look for. That’s what you look for when you determine if this place is exciting and if you want to be there. And this place sure as heck has that.”

Minges Coliseum, the home of the Pirates, can get loud when the home team plays well. Schwartz is learning that, too.

He has a way of sounding like he is on the verge of losing his voice during each of his postgame sessions with the media.

basketball coach, whose work involves hollering defensive assignments across the court and working over the referees.

When not stalking the sideline, Schwartz can be found in a deep crouch by the scorer’s table. He looks and sounds like a of building the program into a consistent winner.

Pirates came calling in March as ECU athletic director Jon Gilbert opted for a fresh start with an ambitious-thinking coach.

Schwartz draws from successful previous stops as he envisions a winner at ECU. He is tasked with reviving a basketball program that hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since the 1992-93 season.

said when he was hired. “We’re going to do everything we can to make this an NCAA tournament team, a postseason team and build the strongest possible program possible.”

JANUARY 2023 Greenville Magazine 17
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