Melissa Bunker Recognized for Her Role in Narcan Distribution Effort

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — November 1, 2018 — 4 min read

Melissa-Bunker-LIA.jpgMelissa Bunker, the Triad Regional Manager for Community Engagement, has been recognized for playing a key role in Cardinal Innovations Healthcare's effort to distribute 12,000 Narcan kits, which can save lives in an emergency overdose situation.

Bunker, who will take on a new role as Senior Community Executive for the Triad Region in December, represented Cardinal Innovations Healthcare's Community Operations Department in the CURES Grant/Substance Use Disorders (SUD) Workgroups, helping to bolster efforts to help individuals struggling with opioid use and addiction in Cardinal Innovations' 20-counties. Her job involved organizing teams that decided where the Narcan kits would go and how to get them there, and created training to coincide with the effort.

“Melissa has been essential in the planning and implementation efforts associated with CURES/SUD grant effort," said Emily S. Bridge, Director of Community Engagement. “She was able to connect how various departments could support the effort like Narcan distribution, substance use disorder resource lists and Narcan 101 (training)."

Earlier this year, Bridge nominated Bunker for a Cardinal Leads Award for her work on the Narcan effort. The Cardinal Leads Award recognizes employees whose work exemplifies Cardinal Innovations' five core values of accountability, courage, compassion, integrity and a pioneering spirit/attitude in ways that have a high impact on the organization, our employees and our members. Nominees are featured in Leadership in Action articles throughout the year.

As the representative for Community Operations, Bunker said she aimed to exemplify the stakeholders' interests from Cardinal Innovations' 20-counties. The task involved determining how to efficiently distribute 12,000 Narcan kits into the community over an eight-month period. Narcan, or naloxone, can treat narcotic overdose in an emergency situation. The CURES committee had a list of stakeholders who had requested kits, but the challenge was in determining whether the targets and quantities were appropriate, figuring out how they would be delivered and keeping count, Bunker said.

“Another portion of my responsibility involved working with Care Coordination, Medical and Network Management to create, plan, market and execute a three-part opioid training for different community stakeholders in the two regions with the most opioid deaths or Narcan revivals to date," Bunker said.

Bunker, who joined Cardinal Innovations in 2014 as a member of the Communications and Marketing team, later switched to her role as Triad Regional Manager for Community Engagement, leading a team of three for Davie, Forsyth, Rockingham and Stokes counties. Her next role will be as Senior Community Executive for the Triad Region.

Nicole McKinney, Director of Community Relations, said she is extremely excited to have Bunker in this new role where she has already built strong ties in Triad. “Collaborating with Melissa is always a pleasure, as she brings pure passion to all that she touches," McKinney said.

Bunker's passion began in another field. She went to school for a communications degree with an emphasis in broadcast television. Prior to working in the behavioral health field, she worked for 18 years producing television commercials and owned a video production company. She developed an intricate knowledge of television, film and graphic animation production, as well as, artist representation, post production, audio, music, budgets, timelines and overall execution. She said she loved the work, but after her company closed, she realized she needed to reinvent herself and start fresh.

“I moved to Charlotte, N.C., in 2010 and shortly after left the industry for a non-profit called, which stands for the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression. This opened the door for my career in behavioral health. Shortly after, I was recruited to MeckLink, the LME/MCO in Mecklenburg County as their Communications Specialist," Bunker said.

“I have lived experience in both mental health and substance use. I have lost loved ones to suicide and have multiple family members with their own battles as well. I was drawn to this field as a place where my skills and characteristics could make a positive difference in someone else' life," she said.

Bunker's video production expertise continues to be tapped by Cardinal Innovations' Communications and Marketing Department for the annual all-employee meetings.

“The all staff meeting brings me back to my early career days in television and show production," she said. “The creation, planning and execution of a large scale event that leaves an audience feeling enthusiastic, driven and inspired is an adrenaline rush for me. Having to make quick, intuitive decisions on the fly in order to make a great live show seem easy and seamless is extraordinarily fun. I feel grateful that the communications team has continued to invite me back each year to help."

She's also enjoying contributing in new ways, she said. “The best part of my job is growing leaders. There are so many smart and intelligent people who work here and I made it my job to 'do lives.' How can I make their day easier? What do they need from me to be empowered to make decisions for their stakeholders? What pieces of information do they need to know about our business to offer exceptional customer service at all times?"

For Bunker, that's the bottom line – whether it's a coworker or a member or a community leader – it's all about helping.

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