Six Mission Health Nurses Honored as North Carolina’s Great 100 Nurses by the Great 100, Inc.

Mission Health nurses and colleagues recently attended a celebration honoring six of our own as North Carolina’s Great 100 Nurses at the annual Great 100, Inc. Gala.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Since 1989, the Great 100, Inc. has recognized admired and influential nurses across North Carolina, recognizing 100 nurses from the state who are nominated by their peers for this once-in-a-lifetime honor.

What does it take to be a Great 100 Nurse of North Carolina?

These are nurses who lead and influence nursing practice in their own work environment, and for our system and region. Our honorees promote and advance the profession of nursing in a positive way in the practice setting and/or in the community, and actively seek ways to support nurses and other healthcare providers. This year’s six honorees use their voice as members of various nursing committees and councils, and they have all been instrumental in helping increase the number of certified nurses by 40 percent.

These nurses demonstrate integrity, accountability, caring and commitment to others’ growth and development, and radiate energy and enthusiasm – taking ownership in their practice and leading contributions and outcomes.

Meet the 2019 North Carolina Great 100 Nurses from Mission Health.

Note: Nurses are listed in the order they are pictured in the photo (left to right).

Hope Cucchi, BSN, RN, CPN – Pediatric Neurology at Mission Children’s Specialists

Hope was nominated for her passion and commitment to her patients, families, team and profession that inspires her colleagues and everyone she works with. Her colleagues say she is the perfect nurse to be celebrated and is incredibly deserving of the Great 100 title.

Anna Gerhardt, BSN, RNC-MNN, MSW – Mother/Baby at Mission Hospital

Anna is an active member of her community and workplace who’s dedicated to making the environment and people around her the best it can be.

Anna has incredible instincts when it comes to caring for patients and their families who are at the height of some of life’s most exciting and complex times. She is a compassionate listener and is deeply committed to the patient experience, which enables her to connect with her patients in unique and meaningful ways. Her patients and colleagues say that it comes naturally to her to help make difficult situations more manageable for patients and their families. Anna sits on several councils and committees, has achieved the highest level of clinical ladder and has been influential in nursing governance at Mission Health, helping to improve nursing practices and the workplace environment.

Outside of work, Anna is a dedicated member of her community. She helped create a playground and community garden that provides fresh food to an area where 73 percent of students live below the poverty level.

Brooke Graham, BSN, RNC-MNN – Women’s & Children’s at Mission Hospital

Brooke has a deep desire and passion to help those in need. Her colleagues say that her character, confidence and charisma are qualities that distinguish her as a nurse – it’s even the reason one colleague chose to pursue a career in medicine.

Brooke is a role model for nurses, particularly for new or younger nurses who she helps grow and develop through mentorship. She hears her patients and advocates for them; Brooke cares for her own patients like her family, making each patient feel like they are her only patient. One patient said of Brooke, “All I can do is tell you from the bottom of my heart, she is a kind, loving person and went above and beyond her duties as a nurse.”

Brooke’s professional nursing career has taken her all over the world for mission trips, one in particular where she issued antibiotics, treated tooth infections, measured blood pressures and assisted in dental extractions in extremely rural conditions. “[Brooke’s] ability to build trusting relationships while staying professional and committed to the highest level of care makes her a great asset to her team,” a colleague said.

She cares for her patients with humility and professionalism, and showcases every day what it means to provide care with the patient and their family at the center.

George Alan Sessoms, BSN, RN, PCCN – 3-Heart Step Down at Mission Hospital

George exemplifies Florence Nightingale’s famous words: “For the sick it is important to have the best.”

George’s colleagues across the organization reach out to him for his expertise. He goes above and beyond to help patients and their families, and he understands that the littlest things aren’t so little and can make all the difference. Each time a patient or their family member has a request, he does whatever it takes to make it happen. While visiting a local tourist attraction, he put his life-safety skills in action. When a woman visiting from out of town suddenly demonstrated symptoms consistent of an MI, this nurse jumped into action providing CPR. The woman regained consciousness and was thanking George when EMS arrived.

George unselfishly gives his time and service. While he has created a culture of recognition and celebration that highlights his colleagues’ achievements, George has been honored by his colleagues for the impact of his leadership.

Margaret Holmes, MPH, BSN, RNC-NIC – NICU at Mission Hospital

Margaret is known for being an experienced NICU nurse whose presence, knowledge and skills are admired and respected in the workplace. She primarily works in Mission Hospital’s NICU as a clinical nurse caring for high-risk infants, but also works as a research assistant in Women and Children’s, which gives her a unique and deep perspective into achieving the best clinical outcomes. In her research role, she mentors her peers and helps her colleagues find evidence-based literature to support their ideas to improve nursing practice and outcomes.

Margaret is the leader and data collector for a global neonatal network that helps improve neonatal care and outcomes for infants, which has enabled Mission Hospital’s NICU team to target areas for improvement and celebrate accomplishments. Margaret has entered information for more than 7,000 NICU infants.

Margaret radiates energy and enthusiasm, and she makes a difference to overall outcomes in the practice setting. Her colleagues say her commitment to her patients, families and colleagues are seen and felt throughout her work.

Melissa Woodbury, MSN, RNC-MNN, CMSRN – Director of Clinical Professional Development and Center for Clinical Advancement

Melissa has a long trajectory of promoting and advancing nursing in a positive way at Mission Health. Her colleagues say her passion, expertise and innovative approach to education is inspiring. Melissa has published articles in journals and participated in national poster conferences, focusing on innovative patient-centered approaches to pain management. She uses every opportunity to engage nurses in clinical education with the goal of always improving patient outcomes. Melissa is a leader in utilizing data that leads to validating best nursing practices, and her dedication and persistence in education initiatives for her nursing colleagues has resulted in significant improvements in patient care across several areas.

Melissa’s enthusiasm to lead, initiate, develop and research new practice strategies that build nursing knowledge and skills is unparalleled and makes her a Great 100 Nurse.

Nursing Is Our Mission

Mission Health’s nursing vision is to be a nationally recognized strengths-based nursing culture – always striving to achieve best practices in research, professional development, quality and nursing care to retain the experienced nurses of today, and recruit and mentor nurses of tomorrow.

Learn more about nursing and growing your nursing career at Mission Health, and search and apply to nursing careers at


Mission Health, based in Asheville, North Carolina, is the state’s sixth-largest health system. In 2018, for the sixth time in the past seven years, Mission Health has been named one of the nation’s Top 15 Health Systems by IBM Watson Health. We are the only health system in North Carolina to achieve this recognition. Mission Health operates six hospitals, numerous outpatient and surgery centers, post-acute care provider CarePartners, long-term acute care provider Asheville Specialty Hospital and the region’s only dedicated Level II trauma center. With approximately 12,000 team members and 2,000 volunteers, Mission Health is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of the people of western North Carolina. For more information, please visit or @MissionHealthNC.
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