NCMS Honors Dr. Mary Rudyk with Harvey Estes Award for Community Service

October 19, 2020
Mary Rudyk

Dr. Mary Rudyk, who served as Chief of Medical Staff at NHRMC for Fiscal Year 2020, was honored Friday by the NC Medical Society with the E. Harvey Estes Jr., MD, Physician Community Service Award.

Dr. Rudyk has been THE VOICE for geriatric patients in the region for many years. Her allegiance does not stop at the hospital boundary or even with the organizations she represents in an official capacity. Dr. Rudyk works for every elderly person in southeastern North Carolina every day, championing their causes, ensuring they have access to care, and helping improve quality of care.

"I specialized in geriatrics because I saw the stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination that older people endured," Dr. Rudyk remarked in accepting the award. "I wanted to counter this socially normalized prejudice of ageism and its widespread, insidious and harmful effects on the health of older adults. Ageism is a major force leading to the marginalization of our older adults in our community with negative impacts on their health and well-being. Older adults matter.

"Our older population needs us to be a guiding light for them, illuminating innovations that help them to maintain their independence, a sense of friendly community and aging in place."

From Dr. Rudyk's nomination:

Dr. Rudyk is a member of the New Hanover Internal Physicians Advisory Committee and was instrumental in getting that in place.  She also served as a physician representative on the Partnership Advisory Group, which helped choose Novant Health as the best option to be a partner for NHRMC.

Dr. Rudyk has vision and is not swayed to keep status quo because it is comfortable nor does she let the difficulty of moving in a direction deter her if she believes it is the right thing to do. She is forthright yet willing to listen and discuss.  She has due to Covid and the Partnership Exploration taken on an incredible amount of responsibility and she never complains but just keeps moving forward.

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in North Carolina, nursing homes and group care homes were among those hardest hit. Small facilities did not have the resources to rewrite policies, communicate with patients and their families, and make sure they had the resources to protect their patients and staff. So Dr. Rudyk began weekly Zoom calls in mid-April amidst the COVID pandemic to ALL SNFs in the 7-county region (27 total) and included SNF Administrators, SNF DONs and SNF Medical Directors (and any SNF staff interested).  She continually offers her support and is focused on helping all SNFs regardless of whether or not she is the Medical Director.  She wants to make sure all facilities have the necessary PPE, testing supplies, and staff to support the patients/residents in the facilities.  She has organized speakers/subject matter experts to present on topics including treatment guidelines, COVID testing, community support, disaster coalition, SNF admission/discharge criteria, etc. 

And Dr. Rudyk is always on call. Not just for her patients, but also for the many SNF leaders and Directors of Nursing who need advice or assistance and don’t have anyone else to call  She makes herself available at any time and often replies to emails/texts at all hours of night. 

For Dr. Mary Rudyk, you see, medicine is much more than a job where you heal and comfort those who come to you. For her, it is a calling where you use your decades of knowledge and position of authority to seek out ways to help others – all others. There’s a patient in a skilled nursing facility somewhere in southeastern North Carolina today who is alive because of the work of Dr. Mary Rudyk. The patient and the family have never met Dr. Rudyk and probably wouldn’t recognize her name. But her influence reverberates through the community, and she deserves to be recognized for her selfless dedication to our community.