2021 Grief Symposium Speakers

Ashley Toscano, MSW, LCSW, APHSW-C
Adult Palliative Care and Pediatric Quality of Life Team

Ashley is the Social Worker for DUHS Adult Palliative Care and Pediatric Quality of Life teams.  Her experience includes time working with Hospice Bereavement, Meals on Wheels, In-Home hospice, and Palliative Care.  Prior to joining DUHS, she helped to start the Palliative Care program for First Health Hospital Systems in Pinehurst, NC.  Her focus on Legacy work and therapeutic life review is rooted in personal and professional experience, as well as her interest in advanced care planning and the healing power of music.

Carrie Adair, PhD
Duke Center for Healthcare Safety and Quality

Carrie Adair is the Assistant Director for the Duke Center for Healthcare Safety and Quality. Dr. Adair is a Social Psychologist by training with expertise in the areas of Healthcare Worker burnout and well-being. Her lines of research examine the psychology of well-being, tools to enhance resilience, institutional interventions to reduce and prevent burnout, well-being and safety culture metrics, interpersonal relationships, mindfulness, and improving safety culture. Dr. Adair enjoys collaborating with researchers in the Center, across Duke, and across the country and world.  She also mentors several medical students, PhD students, and fellows on various research projects. Sharing the ‘Science of Well-being’ and well-being tools is a passion of Dr. Adair’s. She gives talks on several well-being topics in the Center’s one and two-day resilience courses, the Center’s webinar series, and to various groups, work-settings, and departments, upon invitation.

Emi Bleau MS, CCLS
Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

Emi is the Child Life Specialist (CCLS) for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Prior to her last four years at Duke Children’s, Emi worked as a CCLS for the Emergency Department at Boston Children’s Hospital for five years and in a children’s behavioral health center for two years prior. Emi earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree at Boston University. Not many people are familiar with the role of a Child Life Specialist. In short, Child Life Specialists strive to reduce the level of stress and anxiety of patients and families while promoting positive coping. Emi is passionate about legacy building with children in the hospital and facilitating these special moments between family members and their child. Legacy opportunities open up discussion about how to maintain connection to their child and allows families to honor their past, while living in the present, and building something for the future. Outside of work, Emi enjoys riding her horse, adventuring outdoors, exploring new restaurants, and spending time with her family and friends.

Mallory Russo, LCSW
Duke Raleigh Hospital Palliative Care

Prior to her role as a Clinical Social Worker for Duke Raleigh Hospital Palliative Care, Mallory practiced clinical social work at Atlantic Health (ACO) and Carrier Clinic.  She earned her MSW at Rutgers University and Bachelors in Psychology from Muhlenberg College. Mallory is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network. Outside of work, Mallory enjoys jogging, searching for the best cup of coffee, and reading.

Megan Peedin, MSW, LCSW, LCAS-A
Adult Sickle Cell Clinic

Megan is an outpatient social worker at Duke University Hospital in the Adult Sickle Cell Clinic. In addition to connecting patients to resources and providing counseling services, Megan serves multiple roles within the Case Management Department and Social Work Division at Duke University Hospital. Megan serves as an MSW field instructor, co-chair of the resource committee, member of the education committee, co-chair of the Shared Governance Council and is one of the facilitators for hospital wide Conversations with Colleagues. Megan received her BSW from North Carolina State University and her MSW from the University of Pittsburgh.

Meghan Higgins
Intensive Care Nursery

Meghan has been a nurse in the Intensive Care Nursery for seven years. The ICN cares for babies born as early as 22 weeks gestation up to as old as 1 year. Meghan is a member of the unit’s Bereavement Committee, where they provide support and resources to families who have lost a baby. Meghan is passionate about supporting families through the ups and downs of the NICU rollercoaster. When she’s not at work, she is chasing around her own toddler at home!

Melissa Jeans, RN, BSN, CNML, CCTN
Solid Organ Transplant Unit

Melissa Jeans is the Nurse Manager of Operations for Duke University Hospital’s Solid Organ Transplant Unit. Melissa grew up on Long Island and started her nursing career at New York University in Manhattan on their Organ Transplant Unit. She moved to Duke in June of 2005. She began her career at Duke as a Clinical Nurse II and moved up the Clinical ladder to a Clinical Nurse III. In 2012 Melissa became a Nurse Manager of Operation for units 2100 and 2300. A few years later Melissa transitioned to a Clinical Team Lead and obtained her Clinical Nurse IV along with her Clinical Transplant Nurse certification. In that time she was part of the leadership team of 2300, the Abdominal Transplant Unit, and led the opening of 2200, a new General Surgery Stepdown Unit. Melissa has been in the position she currently holds since October 31, 2016. Since being in this role she has helped transition what was a Surgical Stepdown Unit to the Solid Organ Transplant Unit and moved to a new location in the Duke Central Tower.

Sarahn M. Wheeler, MD
Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Sarahn M. Wheeler is a practicing maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Duke University Medical Center and an Assistant Professor in the Duke University School of Medicine. In this role, Dr. Wheeler is both a practicing clinician and research faculty. In her clinical role, Dr. Wheeler is the director of Duke’s Prematurity Prevention Program, a specialty clinic that is geared for women with risk factors for preterm birth.  In her research role, Dr. Wheeler has published several peer-reviewed articles on topics ranging from fetal brain injury to vaccination during pregnancy. Dr. Wheeler’s current research focus is on race disparities in preterm birth. She also serves as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the OB/GYN department.

Scotty Elliott, MA, MSW, LCSW
Duke University Hospital Infectious Disease Clinic

Scotty has worked in the DUH ID Clinic for the past 10 years, providing mental health services, and other support, to primarily HIV+ patients. He received his MSW from UNCC, a Master of Liberal Studies from Duke University, and his undergrad degree from UNC-CH. He has served as a board member for, and is active in, The Justice Theater Project and serves as a mentor in the Johnson Service Corps.

Susan Gibbs BSN, RN, CNIV, CPN
Duke Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

Susan and her family have been a part of the Duke System for many years.  Her twin girls Ashley and Christa were born in 1997 with varying forms of spina bifida at 33 weeks and were Duke ICN grads.  In 1998, Susan joined the 5300 Peds family where her own children were frequent patients with shunt revisions, and tethered cord repair.  Life changed dramatically for the Gibbs family in 2002, when Christa had a hemorrhagic brain stem stroke and coded on Susan’s unit.  Christa would then pass away in the PICU and Susan and her family would have to learn how to navigate life and Nursing having experienced such a traumatic loss.  Susan eventually came back to Duke in 2010 as a nurse for the Float Pool staffing in all the pediatric units and ICU’s.  During her time in the float pool, the desire to come to the PICU and care for other families in similar dramatic end of life situations became clear.  She currently staffs for the PICU, but also spends the majority of her time with new PICU hires teaching core classes and sims.

Theresa Bayless, MDiv, MSW, BCC
Chaplain Services

Theresa has 30 years’ experience in corporate management and administration. She provides administrative and clinical oversight of the Heart Center and Emergency Department. Theresa also provides administrative oversight for Chaplain Services and Education volunteer program. She has also served as director of community services for United Way where she was a liaison between community leaders and the organization with oversight of about 40 United Way volunteers. Since 2017, Theresa has provided care in the human service field at Duke University Hospital. Theresa earned her MDiv from Duke University and her MSW from UNC-Chapel Hill. She completed her MSW internships at Duke University Hospital in its Emergency Department and at SAFEchild caring for domestic violence survivors. Theresa went further to complete a residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at Duke University Hospital. She is now a board certified chaplain and a member of the Association of Professional Chaplains. Theresa is passionate about holistic care of patients, families, and staff. She has created innovative programming reaching well beyond her clinical areas.

Tracey Dryden, M.Ed., M.A., BSN, RN-BC
Medical Oncology

Tracey Dryden is a board certified nurse who has been with Duke for over 8 years working in the acute patient setting at Duke Hospital.  She is currently working on Duke’s medical oncology unit.  Prior to her nursing career, she worked at Duke as a medical editor and writer and as a community college instructor.