Alumna Receives National Honor for Organ Donation Advocacy

BarbaraLee

By Jackie Drake

Barbara Lee ’80 of Greenville was recently honored by the United Network of Organ Sharing for her work in the community as an organ donation advocate.

Lee received the 2014 National Donor Memorial Award for Excellence at the UNOS board meeting this past summer. Lee was chosen out of many nominations from organ procurement organizations across the country.

“I’m still trying to come back to reality,” she said. “I knew I was nominated, but I had kind of forgotten about it until I got the call and I thought ‘wow!’ I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until I got there.”

Lee is a clinical social worker at Vidant Medical Center, where she has worked for more than 20 years. She has volunteered with Carolina Donor Services, a federally-designated non-profit organ and tissue donation organization, for more than 10 years. She also started the Eastern North Carolina Donor Impact Project to educate African American and Latino communities about the need for minority organ donors.

“What I do is not done for recognition,” she says. “I love what I do. I love working with the patient populations and seeing the life-changing benefits of organ transplants.”

She continued, “In this part of the country, with so much kidney and cardiac disease, there is such a need for organ donation and making sure people are aware of how they can help.”

Originally from Atkinson, NC in Pender County, Lee came to ECU on the advice of a high school teacher. She’d heard good things about ECU from a relative in Kinston. “I stepped out on faith,” she said. She says ECU prepared her well for her career and she loves to show her Pirate pride.

“I love being in a town with a college atmosphere,” she says.

Lee is a football season ticket holder and stays involved with the School of Social Work by serving on boards and speaking to classes. She was named the school’s distinguished alumna in 2012.

Alumnus Starts Successful Website

By Jackie Drake

When Tommy King ’11 first launched his website and company medicalgroups.com in January of this year to help physicians, he knew he was fulfilling a need – and the need continues to grow, along with his site.

Medicalgroups.com is a free resource to help physicians manage the business side of their practices, providing information on insurance, billing, legislation, and more. “While there are many online resources for patients, there are very few dedicated to medical professionals,” states King.

Since the beta version of the site went up in January and the full site went live in May, medicalgroups.com has received thousands of unique visitors.

“We’re in a new era in healthcare,” King says. “With Obamacare, Medicare cuts, and insurance volatility, physicians are looking for a trusted source for news and educational tools. We want to be that hub of information for physicians so they can manage their practices.”

Based in California, medicalgroups.com has a small staff that produces original stories in addition to aggregating and curating content from various news sources.

One of King’s first jobs out of college was in medical billing. “After a physician sees a patient, they mark it down, and it goes through coding, billing, and insurance. I saw what physicians had to deal with on a daily basis. In this era of uncertainty, I wanted to help them out. They need to focus on patients.”

King says it’s exciting to see his website go from just a domain name to a go-to resource. “I’d love to see us have a strong national presence,” King says. “This is definitely something that’s needed. I’m excited for what the future holds.”

Originally from the northern Virginia area, King decided to visit ECU after hearing good things from his older brother and friends.

“I just fell in love with it,” he said. “I decided to take that leap and head south, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. I loved the atmosphere and the team spirit. There’s pride in not just sports but the whole university.”

King majored in political science with a minor in history. He says all the reading, writing, and research helped prepare him for his career.

“ECU was a perfect fit. It’s a big school, but the classes weren’t too big; they were very participatory. ECU helped me grow academically and socially. I graduated prepared to take on the challenges of the business world.”

Welcome to The Chantey, the East Carolina Alumni Association’s New Blog!

A chantey is a work song sung by sailors at sea. This blog will sing the praises of East Carolina alumni as we work to advance our university.

There is a long history of such efforts at the alumni association. The Pirate’s Chantey was the name of our first printed newsletter, before ECUpdate e-newsletter and EC Alumni magazine. In addition to the e-newsletter and magazine, we’ll use this blog to share alumni stories, feature alumni accomplishments, and post upcoming alumni events.

East Carolina alumni do amazing things every day, and we’re honored to help tell your stories! Every time we promote the achievements of our alumni, we showcase the value of an East Carolina education and increase acclaim for the university.

If you have ideas for posts or if you’d like to suggest alumni to feature, please contact Assistant Director for Alumni Communications Jackie Drake at 252-328-4902 or drakej@ecu.edu.