MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – Four women were honored for being remarkable leaders in the community during a celebration Friday aboard the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum on News 2 Today.
News 2 and our parent company, Nexstar Media Group, wanted to acknowledge the great contributions that women have made to our nation and local communities in honor of International Women’s Month.
For weeks back in December, members of the community were invited to nominate women who inspire, lead, and forge the way for others – not just one day or month, but day-in and day-out – to be considered for our Remarkable Women initiative.
All essay submissions were judged and ranked by a special panel leading to our four finalists.’
During News 2 Today, one winner of the four finalists was selected to be named the Lowcountry’s most Remarkable Woman for 2021 and received a $1,000 donation to the charity of her choice.
This year’s nominees included Lt. Col. Pamela Barton, Dr. Romina Ilic, Ragina Saunders, and Pat Walker – four women, all positive role models.
Dr. Ilic, an anesthesiologist and director of the cardiovascular intensive care unit at Roper St. Francis was named the 2021 winner.
“I’m honored, humbled, and so inspired by the women sitting next to me… I mean you’re all incredible,” she said.
Dr. Ilic said this was a great way to highlight women. “It’s a wonderful opportunity just to show what women are capable of. That we can do anything and be anything,” she said.
After the winner was announced, the nominees were invited to a breakfast hosted by The Fish House at the Charleston Harbor Resort. New friendships made; each woman expressed how wonderful the experience was.
“Having the opportunity to sit amongst the other three women today and what they do for society, I’m reminded of a term that we use in the military, that’s called selfless service. And if there were ever examples of selfless service it’s just the three women that sat there with me this morning,” said Lt. Col. Barton.
WATCH AGAIN: NEWS 2 ANNOUNCES REMARKABLE WOMEN WINNER:
“It’s more inspiring to know that there’s more women like me out there,” said Saunders. “We all have become friends today so, how we can help each other. I think that’s what today is supposed to accomplish partly, you know- of course celebrate each other, but also for us to work together.”
“It actually felt remarkable to be in their presence, I just felt like I was surrounded by remarkable women,” said Walker. “It’s so exciting and I’m so grateful and so humbled that someone even thought of me for this.”
Committee member and News 2 Today anchor Octavia Mitchell has the pleasure of announcing the winner. She said the women represented were all awesome for what they do day-in and day-out.
“We could not have picked a better group of women to represent the state of our world right now. These women are amazing, they’re doing amazing things in our community,” she said.
Dr. Ilic received a $1,000 donation to her charity of choice and she is now one of the hundred national finalists with the chance to be selected and named Nexstar Media Group’s Woman of the Year.
MEET DR. ILIC AND HEAR HER REMARKABLE STORY:
Suited up and ready for battle – including scrubs and masks – Dr. Romina Ilic, an anesthesiologist, walks through the halls of the hospital, creating plans to care for a new population of patients.
“It’s nice to be able to take care of patients and see them safely through surgery,” she said.
She’s the director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. “Typically, the ICU is where the sickest patients in the hospital end up, so those are the folks we focus on,” she said.
Focusing on those needing the most care while managing to reduce IV and catheter-related infections at Roper. “Oftentimes, they come in and you’re not sure necessarily why they are sick. You just know that they are really sick, so you may have a limited amount of time to figure it out before they get worse,” she explained.
Calling the shots during a pandemic has forced a new level of leadership because the enemy – COVID-19 – was new and unpredictable. “Early on it was a lack of information and trying to learn as you go and taking care of patients with a brand-new disease that we didn’t know that much about.”
She said it’s heartbreaking to not be able to help somebody when they are asking for help.
But COVID-19 is a war, and everyday she and her team are battling against this deadly disease and its affects.
“Logistically just finding space for patients because hospitals are at capacity, and so getting phone calls from other facilities and asking for transfers for patients who are really sick and need to get to a higher level of care, and not having space for them is tough,” she explained.
Her colleagues say she is tough. When patients go on a ventilator, Dr. Ilic peers down their throats knowing the procedure puts her at high risk of exposure to COVID-19.
“Most folks know going on a ventilator means that not only are you very ill but your mortality increases when you require mechanical ventilation, and that may be a marker just because you are that sick and need the extra care.”
When the words “healthcare workers on the front lines” are said, there is one who stands shoulder-to-shoulder with her staff, but for the many lives she’s saved or improved, she stands out.
“I love my job, and I’m really lucky I can do it with such amazing people at my side,” she said. “My family always knew I would be a doctor, but it took me a while to believe them. There was a litany of things I thought I would be, definitely not a physician for a very long time.”
Dr. Romina Ilic – a mother, doctor, athlete, and truly a remarkable woman.