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Employees participates in Planetree Annual Conference

Nine Halifax Regional Health System employees recently joined nearly 1,000 like-minded patient-centered care advocates from all over the world at the Planetree Annual Conference in Palm Desert, California. 

“It was a wonderful learning experience for all of us,” said Vance Midgett, Planetree coordinator at Halifax Regional Hospital. “The conference offered us an opportunity to explore what others are doing to advance patient centered care – the main thrust of the Planetree philosophy. And it made us feel good about all that we have accomplished on our Planetree journey.”

The conference included a number of well-known keynote speakers, breakout work sessions, learning labs, numerous networking opportunities for participants and the Spirit of Planetree awards dinner, where MeadowView Terrace’s Rosa Skipwith was honored as Caregiver of the Year. 

“The experience was marvelous,” Skipwith said. “I never thought I would get an award for taking care of someone. I cannot explain how it feels to be recognized for what I do for others.”

Two of the keynote speakers were favorites for Debra Stewart, case management. 

“Caroline Casey and Mark Sanford really inspired me to use the talents and skills I already have to go out and make a positive difference in everything I do and encourage others to do the same,” Stewart said.

For Alyssa Gavitt, marketing specialist, nutrition leader Zonya Foco’s presentation “Conviction over Convenience: Staying Healthy in a Culture That’s Anything But” impressed her the most. 

“She inspired me. I loved her stories about people and how she motivated them to get healthy. I want to see that here. I think we should do five minutes of exercise before every meeting. Overall, I was very impressed with seeing how passionate everyone at the conference was about Planetree and patient-centered care,” Gavitt said.

Like Stewart, Radiology Tech Gary Guthrie also was impressed with Caroline Casey. 

“She left me with several key ideas which are to always be yourself, know that one individual can make a difference, don’t compare yourself to others, surround yourself with positive things and people and deal with failure because you can learn from your mistakes,” Guthrie said.

Larry Davis, president of Halifax Regional Health System’s auxiliary, describes the experience as one to be cherished. 

“It was especially thrilling to be with people from around the world who are dedicated to the needs of those who are sick and seeking help. The spirit of Planetree can be felt through those who are trying to make a difference,” Davis said.

Nurse Manager Keisha Jackson noted one common theme during the conference. “Patient-centered care is a must,” she said. “We have to be all in, it has to be across the organization.”

Dee Dee Gregory, RN in the Emergency Department brought home information and ideas to improve patient satisfaction scores. “But in the end,” she said, “it is truly all about our patients and wanting the very best care for them. It’s all about the little differences you make each day.” 

Operating Room RN Lisa Roach was impressed with the energy she felt at the conference. 

“It was so positive,” she said. “When you are around happy people, it’s hard not to be happy or at least be lifted up emotionally to some degree, and in return you get better results. Also, the key-note speakers were awesome,” Roach said.

To learn more about Halifax Regional Health System’s patient-centered care philosophy and initiatives, visit