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Vidant Beaufort Hospital selects new president

GREENVILLE — Vidant Health is pleased to announce Debra Hernandez, MHA, RN, FACHE, CENP, has been named president at Vidant Beaufort Hospital effective Aug. 17. The current president at Vidant Duplin Hospital, Hernandez will replace interim president Wick Baker, who returned from retirement in January to lead Vidant Beaufort.

Hernandez assumed the role as president at Vidant Duplin in October 2018 after spending five months at Vidant Medical Center providing clinical and operational expertise and guidance for nursing and patient services. She has extensive experience in the acute health care setting, with a focus and commitment to staying connected to bedside care throughout her career.

“This is an exciting day for Vidant Health and eastern North Carolina,” said Jay Briley, president, Vidant Community Hospitals. “Debra’s leadership and passion is evident from the board room to the bedside. Her commitment to making a difference in the lives of those we serve is an important part of how we meet our mission to improve the health and well-being of our region. Furthermore, we are thankful for Wick’s leadership during this unprecedented time and his service to Beaufort County and the surrounding communities.”

Originally from Greene County, Hernandez has a passion for the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina. She has spent most of her career in the state, including roles at WakeMed Health and Hospitals, Wayne Memorial Hospital and Duke University Health System. Prior to returning to North Carolina in 2018, she was chief operating officer and chief nursing officer at Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas — a central Texas academic medical center with Level 1 Trauma and Comprehensive Stroke status.

Since taking on the president role at Vidant Duplin, Hernandez has co-led the Emergency Department system-wide collaboration group and has collaborated with leaders across the system to refine efficiencies and processes to enhance our system of care. She is currently working on her doctoral degree in health care administration, with a focus on strategic planning and organizational change.

“I want to thank the amazing team at Vidant Duplin as well as those that sought and found high-quality care at our hospital,” Hernandez said. “I am excited to continue to serve eastern North Carolina, Beaufort County and the surrounding communities in my new role. I look forward to working with the team at Vidant Beaufort and continuing the tradition of excellence in patient care.”

In addition to her role as president of Vidant Beaufort, Hernandez will be appointed into a newly-created role: system vice president, emergency services. In this role, Hernandez will lead and collaborate with system-wide clinical and Emergency Department leadership to build upon the system’s clinical effectiveness, capacity management, facility design and creating synergies within and across Vidant’s emergency services.

Jeff Dial, MPH, MS, FACHE, will assume responsibility as interim president at Vidant Duplin. Dial has more than 20 years of health care experience, with 16 of those years dedicated to leadership roles within Vidant, which includes serving as president at Vidant Bertie and Vidant Chowan Hospitals in 2014 and 2015.

Dial’s extensive and honorable military experience includes time spent in both active and reserve capacities. As a captain in the U.S. Navy, his most recent assignment was serving and leading as the Joint Medical Group Operations Officer in Charge for a Joint Task Force in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.