Lenoir County August 2021

Population
56,974

County Seat
Kinston

Median Income
$39,402

Population Density Designation
Rural

“What is one thing you need that would make your work more effective?” Blue Cross NC’s SVP of Government Markets Fran Gary asked Dr. Rusty Hunt, President of Lenoir Community College.

His answer: having adequate qualified staff. While the community college has had huge successes with its Health and Science programs, Hunt described the difficulty of recruiting and keeping skilled workers in rural areas like Lenoir County.

Gary has been asking each community member on our Extra Miles Tour this question. The tour is an opportunity to engage with the community and learn about the current issues each county uniquely faces. Gary and other Blue Cross NC leaders were there to listen, learn, build relationships and develop a more informed strategy.

At Lenoir Community College, faculty leaders and community members engaged in a panel discussion on policy, health, and education. Lenoir Community College experienced record enrollments in their nursing program again in the fall of 2021.

The group also discussed Lancer Academy, a partnership between Lenoir Community College and Lenoir County Public Schools that addresses equity gaps in enrollment and access. The program provides a unique, structured opportunity for high school students in the district, giving them access to college instructors, college support services, and college support staff via convenient locations on their high school campuses.

Afterward, we toured the campus’s successful Center for Aviation, which confers degrees like Aviation Management and uses cutting-edge technology in flight simulation and 3D printing. Notably, the facility manufactured 30,000 COVID-19 face shields for frontline workers at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Later that morning, when Blue Cross NC President and CEO Dr. Tunde Sotunde stepped into the Kinston Community Health Center, he was reminded of his early career working at a community health center in New York as a part of Howard University’s Hospital Residency Program in Pediatrics.

“It brings me back,” Dr. Sotunde remarked nostalgically while touring the facilities.

The Kinston Community Health Center’s portable school-based dental program provides services to students from low-income families from pre-K through eighth grade. All students or siblings of students in the Lenoir County School District who are uninsured or enrolled in Medicaid, and have not visited a dentist in the past year, are eligible for free dental care.

Nurse practitioners and community health leaders shared the varied experiences a community health center addresses, from fighting COVID-19 to developing a mobile dental program. It was clear to us that the health center’s medical demand was too high for the facility, a tightly packed former department store, and that there is a gap to be filled by driving positive change.

With thanks to contributor Alicia Carter

The Community in Action

Meet Dr. Rusty Hunt

Rusty Hunt has been President of Lenoir Community College since 2017. Hunt joined LCC from Davidson County Community College, where he worked in Financial and Administrative Services for more than 15 years. Dr. Hunt has earned his Doctor of Education from Wingate University, a MBA from Liberty University, and a BS in Accounting from UNC-Charlotte.

U39702, 10/21