Nurses of Note Awards 2022: The Nurse Informatics Team at Mecklenburg County Public Health

PerfectServe’s Nurses of Note awards program honors nurses who deserve recognition for their remarkable resilience and unwavering dedication to their patients. In the second year of the Nurses of Note program, PerfectServe wants to shine a light on the integrity, perseverance, and compassion that nurses so regularly display in the course of caring for patients.

The incredible stories of these honorees paint a pretty clear picture of the people who populate this noble profession, and their experiences offer just a glimpse into the many ways they make the world a better place. Of the 200-plus nominations PerfectServe received, we selected a group of providers to spotlight during the month of May—which, of course, is home to National Nurses Week—and throughout the rest of 2022.

Honoree 1: The Nurse Informatics Team at Mecklenburg County Public Health (Charlotte, NC) — Tracy Zeigler, Taleba Morrison, and Leigh Barnhill

The Nurse Informatics Team at Mecklenburg County Public Health works to create strategic and innovative solutions in just about every department within the Public Health purview. A large part of a small system, Tracy Zeigler, Taleba Morrison, and Leigh Barnhill power the train that steers many Public Health decisions for Mecklenburg County in Charlotte, North Carolina. The team supports operations within the Public Health system, supporting over 300 employees between Clinical Services, Ancillary Services, School Health, and Trauma & Justice Partnerships. Their work directly impacts community health in areas like Environmental Health, Communicable Diseases, Community Health, School Health, Immunization Clinics, Clinic Operations in Family Planning, and more.

But Tracy, Taleba, and Leigh are not just liaisons for the Public Health department. Officially, they are all Nurse Informaticists, and they work to improve the health of local communities while reducing system costs. These three women perform many duties, including analyzing workflows, facilitating EMRs and other technology training, translating program requirements into operational terms, and working with policies and people to evaluate new initiatives. Individually, Taleba works to facilitate EMR and Preventative Health training, while Tracy’s role supports clinical policies and operations like staff training and job development. Leigh’s role primarily involves School Health, but she also helps troubleshoot issues for staff in the field. 

Throughout the pandemic, the work these women performed single-handedly ensured that COVID-19 data for the entire county was properly tracked and traced. Tracy, Leigh, and Taleba focused on entering data that pertained to COVID-19, as well as developing other tools and protocols to keep the state informed and up to date. They created an EMR to track and contact those who had tested positive for the virus, ran outbreak reports and managed the state database for their county, and even trained hundreds of temporary and reassigned team members to meet the demand for care and vaccination needs. They also rolled out an appointment scheduling platform to streamline vaccination appointments for frontline medical staff and first responders, which was eventually opened to the public based on their vaccination priority status. As if all of this weren’t enough, they also worked with an immunization program to determine how many doses were needed each day and carefully managed the limited vaccine supply without wasting any doses.

Notably, this team trained the National Guard in data entry practices to report accurate numbers to the state. They also devised an electronic and physical storage system for documentation and developed a data dashboard to analyze case counts, transmission rates, mortality demographics, breakthrough cases, and potential outbreaks in Mecklenburg County. Their diligence and work have expanded well past the borders of Mecklenburg County. Nominator Jonathan Ong summarized their work and roles by saying these three women are “clinical, technical, and all-around public health superheroes!”

Thank You

Tracy, Taleba, and Leigh, your dedication to multiple areas that impact public health is deeply appreciated by your colleagues, your community, and the team here at PerfectServe. We thank you for your selfless excellence, and we wish you the best in your continued efforts to make Mecklenburg County—and the people in it—safer and more connected.

Q&A

In addition to learning about their jobs and the many ways they support public health in their home county, we posed a few additional questions to this dynamic team:

Why did you choose to become a nurse? 

Tracy Ziegler: I always knew I would be in a healing profession, but I chose nursing because I knew I wanted to have diversity and variety in my workplace. I believedand still believethat nursing is one of the best professions to grow and be challenged in.

What is the biggest lesson you learned while serving throughout the pandemic? 

Tracy Ziegler: I learned the value of remaining fluid and flexible during rapidly evolving change.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self about working in the healthcare industry?

Leigh Barnhill: I would give myself this advice: Your empathy may be challenging in stressful situations, but it is a gift.

What do you do to relax after a stressful day? 

Taleba Morrison: After a long day, I like to listen to motivational commentary, play jazz music, and exercise! These things help me relax and unwind after particularly stressful days.

What changes would you like to see in the nursing field of the future?

Taleba Morrison and Leigh Barnhill: We hope to see a more balanced workload, a decrease in nursing shortages, better nurse-to-patient ratios, and for the profession to be respected on a higher level. We also hope to see an increase in people joining the nursing profession who truly love helping others.

If you had to pick one song that describes you as a nurse, what would it be?

“Under Pressure” by Queen (Leigh Barnhill), “She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summers (Tracy Ziegler), and “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers (Taleba Morrison)

Make sure to follow our blog as we publish in-depth profiles about more of our amazing Nurses of Note honorees throughout the year.

For more about Nurses of Note 2022, check out the full list of winners.