GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — One Vidant Medical Center ECU OBGYN is being recognized for her efforts to help incarcerated women.

Dr. Kerianne Crockett received the Dogwood Award from North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. The Dogwood Award is given to North Carolinians who work to keep people safe, healthy and happy in their communities.

Crockett did just that with her work to get House Bill 608 passed.

“I just had to like do something with all of my angst and grief and upset,” said Crockett.

In 2019, Crockett had a patient who was brought in from a local jail. She said the woman had ankle and wrist restraints, and deputies refused to remove them during labor and delivery. The woman lost her child.

“It was traumatic for her I’m sure,” said Crockett. “It was secondarily traumatic to me. For months I tried to figure out what to do with this.”

Crockett became involved in advocating for House Bill 608, also known as Dignity for Women Who Are Incarcerated. Groups worked for years to gain traction on the bill, but nothing stuck.

“I reached out to every sheriff in the state actually and I said this is the bill that’s on the table,” she said. “What would it look like at your facility? Is this doable?”

Governor Roy Cooper signed the bill into law in September 2021. House Bill 608 significantly limits law enforcement’s ability to shackle pregnant women. It also includes nutritional requirements, access to menstrual products, and limitations on invasive body cavity searches.

“It’s been invaluable to me that I was able to channel my energy into something so productive,,” said Crockett. “It’s not lost on me though that for the patients, ya know my patient that went through this, that they don’t necessarily have something to celebrate today.”

Photo courtesy of Dr. Kerianne Crockett

Crockett is one of 36 North Carolinians to receive this year’s Dogwood Award from Stein.

“I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement and congratulations for doing something so above and beyond,” she said. “I hope that anyone in my position who saw what I saw would’ve done what I did.”

House Bill 608 goes into effect on Wednesday. Crockett said the hurdle now is making sure the medical community and law enforcement agencies are aware of these new requirements.