Health: Cape Fear Valley Hoke Hospital
A culture of caring with an ‘awesome team’
By Kim Hasty
Photography by Cindy Burnham
Additional photos contributed by Cape Fear Valley Health
They had been planning to celebrate with the entire community last year, a fifth-anniversary event that would have included live music, games for families and plenty of good food across a sprawling campus. The pandemic cancelled all that, but here on the polished floors of Cape Fear Valley Hoke Hospital, everyone seems to be smiling anyway.
“This is an awesome team,” said Roxie Wells, M.D., president of Cape Fear Valley Hoke. “The building is beautiful, but the team is amazing. This is the best group of people here. They want to be here.
“I think you’d be hard-pressed to walk through the building and find someone who’s scowling or won’t say hello,” she said. “That’s just the culture we’ve fostered here.”
Even Mr. Herman Brown, a patient fresh out of foot surgery, is in a happy mood in a recovery area.
“I’m good,” he said. “I love this place.”
The facility opened in 2015, offering Hoke County, established in 1911, its first full-service hospital. Located a few miles from the Cumberland County line, the hospital draws patients not only from Hoke, but also from Cumberland, Bladen, Robeson and Harnett counties. Besides its 41 spacious patient rooms, the complex offers a wide range of services, including two operating rooms for in-patient and out-patient surgery, nine observation beds, a four-bed intensive care unit, radiology and ultrasound, physical therapy, a retail pharmacy, a full-service laboratory, a sleep program, evening telemedicine and a busy, 16-bed emergency department.
“We anticipated seeing about 15,000 to 18,000 patients a year in our ER,” Wells said. “We’ve blown that out of the water at 40,000-plus.”
They were able to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to almost 10,000 people, opting to use color-coded cards to keep people from standing in long lines for the vaccine.
“I didn’t want people standing out in the elements,” Wells said. “It was January and February, and we were vaccinating senior citizens. I didn’t want them standing in line. I think it went really well.”
Wells, a native of small-town Fayette, Alabama, helped open the hospital in 2015, then took over full-time as president in 2019. Her husband’s career as a preacher had originally brought the couple to North Carolina, where she earned a degree from Fayetteville State in biology, then enrolled in East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine.
“And then, in my third year of med school, I had a baby,” she said. That baby is now a second-year law student.
The administrative side of medicine clicked with Wells.
“You know, I use to think that healthcare was my passion,” she said. “But then I determined that people are my passion, and healthcare is the vehicle I get to express that in. I can go over and talk to a patient and that’s what gives me resilience. I thought medicine was my passion, but I found out people are my passion.”
Hoke Hospital has become a solid community member, organizing food drives for those in need and adopting families at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Wells, who did a stint on the local Chamber of Commerce, helped organize Hometown Christmas, a holiday event that debuted in 2015 and drew shoppers and families to downtown businesses. She had experienced a similar event when she lived in the Duplin County town of Wallace.
That feeling of neighborliness extends to the shiny glass doors of the hospital as well, where the staff is small enough to foster a close-knit bond. They celebrate special occasions in each other’s lives, cheer each other on.
“That’s the good thing about opening a hospital … you get to set the culture,” Wells said. “When we opened the door, one of the things we talked about was that our patient satisfaction scores were 100 percent. Because we had just opened the door. “But our goal was to not let that decrease,” she said. “We asked ourselves, ‘What do you do to make sure patients are receiving care and compassion as well as highquality health care for all our patients?’ We promised the community that we would provide exceptional healthcare and that’s what we set out to do. Every leader has bought into that, and every employee has bought into that.
“I think people are happy because they’re allowed to have ownership in the atmosphere of this facility,” she said. “Their opinions matter. Everybody here, their opinions are important. We’re small enough that we can support each other. A lot of the time people will say, it’s like a family here, and it’s a catchall. Well, it really is here.”