Mar 012013


Dr. Ernest Larkin

Dr. Ernest Larkin

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dr. Ernest Larkin, senior adviser for medical affairs at Vidant Health and assistant dean for operations at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, presented a brief history of the medical center and school before reviewing a new affiliation agreement between the institutions with Vidant Health’s board of directors. Here are excerpts from Larkin’s remarks:

In 1964, Dr. Ernest Ferguson, a general practitioner in Plymouth, returned from a meeting at Duke University about medical practice in the state and convinced Dr. Leo Jenkins, who was then president of East Carolina College, of the need for a medical school, reminding him of the college’s motto, “Servir,” which means, “to serve.”

Jenkins’ pursuit of a medical school at ECC led to some heated political battles in the State Legislature and with leaders of the University of North Carolina, who did not appreciate Jenkins’ political approach. Jenkins recruited Dr. Edwin W. Monroe, a practitioner and community health leader in Greenville, who, in 1968 became dean of the new School of Allied Health Professions at ECC, then vice-chancellor for health affairs, and later board chairman of Pitt County Memorial Hospital.

In 1923, Pitt Community Hospital was located in what is now the Pitt County Office Building on West Fifth Street. It became Pitt County Memorial Hospital in 1951. The hospital reached its 205-bed capacity by 1969, and an addition was recommended. Some recommended that the hospital be sold to a private for-profit entity, but medical school proponents warned that such a sale would quash efforts toward a medical school, which would require a teaching hospital.

The proposed sale was not acted on.

The Pitt County commissioners squeaked through a bond in 1970 to raise funds that led to groundbreaking on a new hospital at its present site. In 1974, UNC Chancellor William Friday ended his objections to a medical school at ECU and recommended a four-year school be established, with $20 million appropriated for a teaching hospital. The General Assembly agreed and mandated the funding for the school.

After ironing out some sticking points and winning approval from the UNC Board of Governors and the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Hospitals, the two institutions, with support from the county commissioners, signed their first affiliation agreement on Dec. 17, 1975.

The new hospital opened in 1977 and the first class of the medical school began that year, with 13 faculty, 28 students, 100 medical staff at PCMH, and 850 hospital staff.

Today, there are 425 faculty at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, 360 students, another 380 residents and fellows and 720 medical staff working at Vidant Medical Center, one of 10 hospitals in the Vidant Health System.

via The Daily Reflector.


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