RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Randolph Health’s vice president and chief nursing officer will retire this summer after 20 years at the hospital. 

“When you mention nursing, it makes me light up automatically. I’ve always had a passion for my career,” Tremonteo Crawford said Wednesday. “I always knew I wanted to be a nurse.”   

Crawford answered that lifelong calling after graduating from Winston-Salem State University and receiving her master’s degree from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. 

“I’ve been a staff nurse, I’ve been a director of nursing, med-surge unit, infection control nurse, house supervisor, so I’ve done an array of things in the healthcare arena in nursing,” she said. 

Her most fulfilling role was serving as Randolph Health’s chief nursing officer. Crawford explained that she helped improve the educational foundation for nursing staff members throughout her time in the position. 

“I’m proud to say that today, 50% of our nurses have a bachelor’s degree, and…many nurses have their master’s degree, and we even have some that are working on their doctorate,” she said. 

Crawford incentivized nurses to go back to school and made it convenient. 

“I became one of their major instructors…for about four or five years, I actually taught most of the nurses that received their BS degree right here at Randolph,” she said. 

The biggest challenge of her career began two years ago when patients began arriving at Randolph Health’s emergency department with COVID-19. 

“It was the most painful and the most difficult time of my career,” Crawford said. “I hope tears don’t come to my eyes because tears are in my heart. During the COVID period, I would walk the halls, and I’d look at the nursing staff with their protective layer on going into those patients’ rooms, and it was like they were on a mission to take care of a patient.” 

She said it was a point of pride to see how nurses responded. 

“I saw the commitment they had to our patients, and I don’t know that I’ve ever been as proud as my nursing staff as I was during that time,” she said. 

Crawford will officially retire on Aug. 1. The hospital is recruiting to fill her position.