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Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills throws during the second half of an NFL game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in Cleveland.

Police seek information in weekend shooting

Rocky Mount police are seeking the public’s help in identifying a vehicle that may have been involved in a shooting Sunday at the Shell Mart on West Raleigh Road.

Police received a call about 4:50 a.m. Sunday morning about a shooting with injury at 1350 W. Raleigh Road. When officers arrived, they found a man who had suffered a gunshot wound to the neck.

The shooting victim was transported to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. At last report, he was listed in stable condition. The victim in the case has not been identified and no age or race has yet been reported by police.

However, in a statement released Tuesday, police spokesman Cpl. Ricky Jackson said the victim was a bystander and not the intended target of the shooting.

Police are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying a burgundy Nissan that was seen in surveillance video of the crime scene.

The shooting is under investigation by the police department’s Criminal Investigation Division.

Anyone with information about the incident should call the Rocky Mount Police Department at 252-972-1411 or call Twin Counties CrimeStoppers at 252-977-1111.

Tips also can be texted to the police via Text-A-Tip at 274637 by beginning messages with RMPOL and typing up to 155 characters about the information.

Community paramedics offer in-home vaccinations

The community paramedic program has been a part of Nash County Emergency Services for roughly six years now, but the role of these specially trained paramedics is changing to meet growing needs during the COVID pandemic.

Community paramedics have been working hard, not only to treat patients in the community, but also to provide vaccinations to home-bound patients in an effort to stave off some of the worst effects of COVID.

“We saw a need for people who aren’t able to easily get out and get vaccinated. These patients are also often the ones that are at high risk of infection because of their health conditions,” Community Paramedic Jaimie Dyky said during a recent interview.

Dyky, 34, is one of three full-time community paramedics who work with Nash County Emergency Services to reach out to people with chronic health needs that may lead to repeated emergency calls. Community paramedics are experienced paramedics who receive additional training to serve in that role. Nash County began its community paramedic program about six years ago, but Dyky has only been serving in the role full-time since April.

“I was interested in becoming a community paramedic since before the program began in our county,” Dyky said. “There was talk of it and Brandon Taylor, who now heads the program, developed the community paramedic program for us. When we first started the program, I didn’t have enough years of experience to be a community paramedic because you have to have about five years of experience as a paramedic before you can become a community paramedic.”

Community paramedics go through an extra level of training that most paramedics do not take. The extra training includes some hands-on clinical hours as well a deeper training about chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. It also includes some mental health training to help community paramedics deal with crisis mental health situations.

The Nash County Community Paramedic program often works with high-risk patients who regularly need to call on emergency services. By working with these patients to provide better monitoring of their conditions and better health care education, community paramedics are often able to head off health crisis situations before patients require a trip to the emergency room or a hospital admission. This program also frees up ambulances for more acute care situations.

“I like being able to have a more personal connection with my patients,” Dyky said. “I can sit down with them in their own home and get to know them on a personal basis. I like to be able to build that relationship rather than just pick them up, treat them and drop them off.”

Adam Fisher was one of the first paramedics to start roughly six years ago in the community paramedic program. He said the work of community paramedics has evolved since the beginning of the current health care crisis.

Fisher said that COVID affected the community paramedic program in the beginning of the pandemic because of concerns about carrying the COVID virus to or from patients. That limited access to patients for a while. But that situation has changed as more information and resources have become available.

“We kind of found where the sweet spot is now,” Fisher said. “We know that with proper protection, we can go out and see these patients. We also have a good decontamination process now in place. If we are exposed to COVID, we are able to decon our units by using special equipment, and we are able to decon ourselves by taking showers and changing clothes and protective gear.”

Fisher also said that the community paramedic program also has been helpful in treating some chronically ill patients who may be concerned about taking repeated trips to a doctor’s office during a pandemic. The program works most closely with the Boice-Willis Clinic so far in this regard, he said.

“That is one way we have been trying to pick up that slack. We can help be those eyes and ears for the doctors when they can’t see those patients,” he said.

For now, the service to provide vaccines at home is free, as are the other services provided by the community paramedics. For more information about receiving free COVID vaccines at home, call the Nash County COVID hotline number at 252-462-2079 or the Nash County Health Department.

Virus cases, deaths keep rising in area

More than 750 Twin Counties residents tested positive for COVID over the past week, roughly 44 are being treated for the virus in local hospitals and seven new COVID deaths were reported, according to information provided by state and local health officials.

Nash County Health Director Bill Hill reported Tuesday that 468 new cases of COVID had been reported over the past week in Nash County, a number that is slightly down from the 490 cases reported the week before. The cumulative number of COVID cases reported so far in Nash County now stands at 13,969.

More than a third of the new cases were reported among Nash County residents under the age of 20. Five infants under the age of 1, 15 children in the 1 to 4 age range, 30 children in the 5 to 9 age range, 69 children in the 10 to 14 age range and 48 residents between the ages of 15 and 19 tested positive for COVID over the past week.

Among older residents, 40-somethings were most likely to test positive this week with 76 cases reported in that age range. Another 47 20-somethings, 64 residents in their 30s and 55 residents in their 50s reported new cases of COVID this week. Another 59 cases were reported in residents 60 years of age and older.

The Edgecombe County Health Department, which is now updating weekly COVID numbers under the new leadership of interim Health Director Michelle Etheridge, reported on Wednesday that 7,268 cumulative cases of COVID have been reported in Edgecombe County since the pandemic began. That number shows an increase of 286 cases reported in the past week. That number is slightly higher than the 281 cases reported over the prior week.

Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 remain high in the Twin Counties. On Tuesday, Hill reported that 33 people were hospitalized at Nash UNC Health Care for COVID treatment. The overwhelming majority of these patients — 31 out of 33 — were unvaccinated and two were fully vaccinated upon admittance.

However, serious cases of COVID are on the increase, Hill said. Six of the 33 patients are under intensive case and five of them are on ventilators, Hill said.

“We have a lot of really sick people in there,” Hill said.

He also noted that none of the people in the ICU were vaccinated for COVID.

At Vidant Edgecombe Hospital in Tarboro, 11 patients were being treated for COVID as of Wednesday, Etheridge said. That number is slightly higher than the nine COVID patients who were being treated there a week ago.

Hill also reported a significant uptick in the number of COVID-related deaths Tuesday. The deaths of seven additional Nash County residents were reported this week, bringing the total number of Nash County COVID deaths to 215.

“These cases sometimes lag in the reporting, so it does not necessarily mean that they all died this week,” Hill said.

Among those recently reported deaths were a Black man in his 50s who died at home, a white woman in her 80s who died at Vidant Medical Center and a white woman in her 60s who died at Wilson Medical Center.

The other four patients died at Nash UNC Health Care, Hill said. Those deaths include two white women in their 70s, a white man in his 50s and a white man in his 40s.

Etheridge said the number of Edgecombe County residents who have died from COVID remains at 123. No new deaths were reported over the past week.

Forum to focus on prostate cancer awareness

When the Rev. Thomas L. Walker received a diagnosis of prostate cancer in 1996, the diagnosis catapulted him on a journey he had neither anticipated nor prepared for.

Like so many other people who receive a diagnosis of cancer, he was overwhelmed with emotion as he examined his own mortality. However, his faith did not allow him to remain overwhelmed by this dire diagnosis.

Initially, Walker researched everything he could find on the topic of prostate cancer. His research led him to choose a treatment that was right for him and also write the layman-friendly book, “Brother to Brother: You Don’t Have to Die of Prostate Cancer,” which chronicles his journey from diagnosis to healing.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Additionally, African Americans have the world’s highest incidence of prostate cancer, and the mortality rate is more than two times higher compared to whites. Incidence and mortality rates for Hispanics are about one-third lower than those for non-Hispanic whites.

For the past 25 years, Walker has been conducting workshops, serving on panels, delivering keynote addresses and providing one-on-one sessions for men and their families who are affected by prostate cancer. In collaboration with Mary Anderson of the Prostate Cancer Coalition of North Carolina, EBC ATOM Inc. will host a free prostate health and wellness forum from 1–3 p.m. Saturday at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

“We are excited to partner with the Prostate Cancer Coalition of North Carolina and OIC to bring this event to our community, especially during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month,” said Debra Allen, executive director of EBC ATOM Inc.

The theme of the forum is “Celebrating 25 Years of Prostate Cancer Activism.” The event will provide information on current research, stress the importance of early detection and share strategies for overcoming obstacles. Prostate cancer screening also will be provided by the OIC.

“This 25-year milestone is definitely one to be celebrated,” Walker said, “and I give God all the glory for his healing and for 51 years of pastoring the Ebenezer Baptist Church.”

People may attend the event in person or view it on the Ebenezer Baptist Church Facebook page.

To register for the event, call Ebenezer Baptist Church at 252-446-2378.