Chief Nursing Officer Karen Robeano, DNP, R.N., (at right) presents the 2016 Moore Regional Hospital Physician of the Year Award to Gretchen Arnoczy, M.D., an Infectious Disease specialist.
PINEHURST – A fascination with epidemics and infectious diseases might seem an unusual interest for a young woman.
But not for Gretchen Arnoczy, M.D.
Dr. Arnoczy, the 2016 Physician of the Year at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, is a specialist in infectious diseases, an area that has intrigued her for much of her life.
“It’s the most interesting part of medicine,” she says.
Even before deciding to become a doctor, Dr. Arnoczy was reading every book on epidemics that she could lay her hands on. While a biology major at Florida’s Jacksonville University, she landed a summer job at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
“It was a great opportunity to see how public health works,” she says.
After earning her medical degree from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Dr. Arnoczy completed her internship and a residency in internal medicine and then a fellowship in infectious disease at the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
She worked with HIV populations while in college and medical school, observing what scientific focus and research can mean in combatting a disease once considered untreatable, not to mention incurable.
Once acknowledged as an automatic death sentence, HIV can now be controlled with a “single pill, once a day, in most cases,” Dr. Arnoczy points out.
“We are so lucky to live in this time where a lot of infectious diseases aren’t seen any more,” she says.
From offices in the Specialty Centers Building on the Moore Regional Hospital campus, Dr. Arnoczy deals with a variety of infectious diseases – from annual outbreaks of flu to the threat of exotic unknowns like Ebola and Zika. Her colleague in that work is Paul Jawanda, M.D., Moore Regional’s 2008 Physician of the Year, who says she is committed to improving the quality of patient care.
“She is a smart and compassionate physician,” he says, “and she has special interests in quality improvement and patient safety.”
As physician director of Moore Regional’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Committee, Dr. Arnoczy leads a team of health care professionals that includes the head of Moore Regional’s Microbiology Lab and a recently hired infectious disease pharmacist working to ensure appropriate antibiotic use – the right antibiotic given at the right time for the right amount of time – throughout FirstHealth.
“Because antibiotics are so effective and perceived to be so safe, they get overused,” Dr. Arnoczy says. “Antibiotics are not risk free. We hope to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use in the system.”
A frequent ally in Dr. Arnoczy’s infectious disease work is Jayne Lee, R.N., Moore Regional’s director of Infection Control and Patient Safety, who calls her a “team player” who works closely with hospital-based physicians, nurses and others involved in what can be a very complicated area of patient care.
“She is always available for the nursing staff in person or by phone on care questions to help us better care for our patients,” Lee says. “She loves to teach, and she values the perspectives and ideas of all disciplines and makes the nurses truly feel like they are valuable members of the care team.”
Dr. Arnoczy has been a member of Moore Regional Hospital’s medical staff since 2010. She and her husband, Aubrey, an electrical engineer and owner of Sandhills 3D, have three young children, ages 5, 3 and 1.