2020 All-America County – Pitt County, NC

The mission of Pitt County Government—to enhance the health, safety, and well-being of the community by advocating for and providing quality services in a friendly and cost-effective manner—was developed from a strategic planning process which included county departments, municipalities, agencies, not-for-profits, faith-based groups and many other stakeholders.

Identified in this common mission is an intentional commitment to engage people to determine their needs and to implement solutions. From the community health needs assessment, to comprehensive master plans, to appointments to boards and commissions, to establishing health priorities, the county listens intently to the voices of residents.

Using these resident voices, Pitt County identifies, develops and targets initiatives that connect community members with resources that improve health and well-being.

Local Reentry Council
To reduce high rates of recidivism, the Pitt County Local Reentry Council (LRC) was established to help previously incarcerated individuals navigate through the difficult transition period. LRC coordinates community resources and addresses service gaps to help recently released inmates become financially independent and productive members of society.

The LRC convened stakeholders and developed innovative strategies and solutions to the problems faced by incarcerated individuals. Administration of the LRC is conducted through LIFE of NC, an intermediary agency tasked with coordinating all aspects of the reentry process.

 Programs include:

  • LIFE of NC – provides a central location that offers case management, job placement, employment training, legal counsel, substance abuse support, mentoring, transportation assistance, temporary housing, education and vocational rehabilitation through LRC partners.
  • Third Street Education Center – developed a Business and Workforce Development program that acts as a bridge to gainful employment. Third Street also provides participants with assistance in obtaining their GED and National Career Readiness Certification.
  • Sheriff’s Heroin Addiction Recovery Program (SHARP) – led by the county sheriff, SHARP is a voluntary recovery program that addresses opioid abuse by offering a structured environment where staff provide selected inmates with a strict regimen of classes and activities throughout the day. Students from East Carolina University facilitate a weekly curriculum to develop healthy relationships and life skills, and doctoral psychology students provide weekly psycho-educational sessions with participants. 

Since 2015, over 500 individuals have transitioned into the community through the LRC with a 15.9% recidivism rate, well below North Carolina’s average recidivism rate of 43%.

Community Paramedic Program
Access to adequate health care is a problem that many Pitt County residents face and oftentimes leads to the overutilization of emergency services. In 2019, 28% of 911 calls in the county were for non-emergent cases and presumably did not warrant ambulance dispatch.

A series of collaborative discussions between a variety of health care stakeholders were held to identify creative ways to serve patients who lack the resources to obtain adequate healthcare and subsequently misuse emergency services.

The Community Paramedic (CP) Program was born. This unique initiative expands the traditional EMS/paramedic role to provide health care and services to underserved populations lacking access to physicians, hospitals/clinics, pharmacies and other related resources. The CP Program employs one paramedic who assists in clinical care, coordination of and connection to services, and patient education within the patient’s home environment. The CP not only serves as a paramedic and healthcare provider, but also operates as a nurse, coordinator, patient navigator, social worker, pharmacist, safety advocate, and wellness coach.

The program is guided by a diverse steering committee comprised of social workers, community health management, EMS providers, ED physicians, and executive leadership. The program primarily targets three populations: high frequency EMS users, high frequency ED visitors, and patients at high risk for readmission to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.

The CP program lowers healthcare costs and increases the availability of resource. Since July 2018, over 200 patients have been referred to the CP program, resulting in a 50% reduction in EMS ambulance usage and visits to the ED.

Farm and Food Council
In 2015, the USDA Farm Service Agency in Pitt County convened a task force of private citizens, health professionals, public officials, and North Carolina Cooperative Extension staff to discuss how a local food council could impact the county’s food system. From this meeting the Pitt County Farm and Food Council (FFC) was established with a mission to promote a healthy, sustainable, equitable, and economically viable community food system; and to initiate, support, and promote programs and policies that educate the community, diminish food disparities, and protect farmland. 

The FFC is comprised of 13 members. A part-time Food Council Coordinator facilitates collaboration among organizations on food and nutrition policies and programs to address food security, farm and economic development, and food and nutrition education. Programs include:

  • Pitt Food Finder – an app that provides a listing and location of local food resources in proximity to the user, including food pantries, soup kitchens, social services, farmers markets, and agritourism. In the first year, the app was downloaded 653 times.
  • Leroy James Farmers Market – a local market with a farm school that helped over 40 participants develop business plans for their farms.
  • Eastern North Carolina Food Commercialization Center – a planned food hub for small farmers to bring their products to be packaged, shipped, and sold. The center is projected to create over 250 jobs and over $900 million in economic impact over the next ten years.
  • Making Pitt Fit Community Garden – a community garden with a full-time coordinator who teaches gardening and nutrition to over 200 students in 12 kindergarten classes.

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