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Two at O’Berry receive Governor’s Award for Excellence

Release Date: January 27, 2010
Contact: Mark Van Sciver, 919-733-9190

RALEIGH – One thing is certain: there will always be heroes among us who will rise up when the situation demands. Mary Garner and Versa Stevens, both employed as Health Care Technicians at O’Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center in Goldsboro, are two such heroes.

Ms. Garner and Ms. Stevens were both singled out to receive the 2009 Governor’s Award for Excellence for Safety and Heroism.  The two employees were honored at a special ceremony hosted by Gov. Beverly Perdue on Jan. 21.  The ceremony, held at the N.C. Museum of History, recognized 10 state employees for outstanding achievements in human relations, innovations, outstanding government service, public service, and safety and heroism.  It is the highest honor given a state employee.

DHHS Secretary Lanier Cansler called the heroism of the two health care professionals a “ . . . shining example of the professionalism and quality of care that marks the majority of people who work in our facilities every day providing a safe and secure environment for those people entrusted in our care.”

On Dec. 15, 2008, an early morning fire broke out in the group home where Ms. Garner and Ms. Stevens both work on the O’Berry campus.  According to O’Berry records, the two were on duty in the home that morning and were responsible for the care and well being of a group of profoundly mentally retarded and severely disabled individuals – all of  whom were asleep at the time. 

According to their citation, “Although under pressure and with minimum staffing, these ladies kept their composure and properly reacted by working as a cohesive team to successfully wake up and direct these individuals from their separate bedrooms, out of a smoke filled group home with sprinkler systems activated to safety, prior to assistance arriving.”

O’Berry Center Director Deborah Exum credits their training and their dedication to their residents’ care with the smooth and safe evacuation of the home by Ms. Garner and Ms. Stevens.

“Versa Stevens and Mary Garner are terrific examples of the talented and dedicated staff we have here at O’Berry,” Exum said. “We are very proud of them and the example they set for all of us.”



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