Carol Ervin, a registered nurse with Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge, has been named to this year’s list of the Great 100 Nurses in North Carolina.
The statewide recognition is a once-in-a-lifetime honor. Selection highlights nursing excellence and is a testament to a nurse’s outstanding professionalism and dedication to patients, families, colleagues and community.
The list is compiled by The Great 100 Inc., a grassroots, peer-recognition organization that honors the nurses in North Carolina. The group recognizes nursing excellence and provides scholarships to nursing students across the state.
Ervin, who serves at the director of nursing practice and behavioral health services, has been a nurse for 34 years. She has been called a "true servant" — one who provides hope and restores dignity for those struggling to live with mental illness and addiction.
“Carol has dedicated her career to caring for patients,” said Kathy Bailey, president and CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge. “She exhibits kindness, compassion, empathy and respect to patients and staff daily. I can think of no better person to be named a Great 100.”
Ervin received a congratulatory plaque and flowers Wednesday, Sept. 9, as her hospital colleagues watched virtually.
“I am very grateful and humble,” Ervin said. “I’m not the type of person who accepts accolades very well. When I come to work every day, I come to work because I like to be of service to people, to patients, to staff. I don’t come for myself. I love my job.”
Said Bailey, "That’s what makes you a great nurse.”
Ervin is best known for her affiliation with the 22-bed behavioral health unit that provides care for adult patients with acute psychiatric needs — a patient population that is often underserved and neglected.
“She has worked diligently to remove stigmas and enhance the level of care afforded to our behavioral health patients both inside and outside the walls of our health care facility,” Bailey said.
Under Ervin's leadership, the behavioral health unit has achieved high levels of teammate engagement and significant improvement in patient’s perception of their experience as measured by a unit-based satisfaction survey.
She restructured the staff to include a clinical supervisor structure, changing role descriptions to incorporate a lead psychotherapist with responsibility for behavioral health technicians; hired additional social worker and substance abuse counselors; and elevated the role of the nurse educator. She also advocated for specialized training on empathy, therapeutic communication and interventions with patients.
Ervin tries to ensure that no patient leaves without resources to have food, clothing and shelter.
“Carol is a leader with high integrity, has a love for the work, an impeccable moral compass and passion for being the voice for those who do not have one,” said Barry Nelson, chief nurse executive. “She does all of this with a kind smile, common sense approach and with a fierce drive to advocate for what they believe in.”
Ervin pioneered Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge in the implementation of the national evidenced-based curriculum of Mental Health First Aid, training more than 350 teammates, leaders and community members.
“She is known for authenticity and transparency and has grown into a vocal advocate in both the organization and community,” Bailey said.
Ervin tirelessly attends meetings and forums at the county and state levels for mental health and substance abuse and provides valuable perspective to the publicon issues that affect the delivery of care of this specific population.
Her high level of commitment is reflected in her representation on many community-based task force meetings, including the Burke Substance and Abuse Network, Partnership for Change and Prescription/Medication Task Force. She has earned certifications in crisis prevention intervention and mental health first aid.
Through active volunteerism, she is often found participating in church activities, including building playgrounds and organizing support for parish families in need.
Ervin is often heard to say, “Every and any act of kindness we can extend can go a long way.”
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