Mar 272013


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

An ECU student sustained serious injuries after he was assaulted with a bottle by an acquaintance early Saturday morning.

Lucas Fiorini, 21, was at the home of the offender, possibly in the Copper Beech Townhomes, when he and an ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend started to fight between midnight and 12:30 a.m., according to police.

The fight turned into an assault with a deadly weapon after the new boyfriend allegedly hit him with a bottle.

The case report stated that those involved were partying prior to the incident.

Police said the victim was intoxicated at the time of the report.

Officials at ECU confirmed Fiorini is enrolled as a student.

The case report stated Fiorini sustained serious injuries from the incident.

via The Daily Reflector.

Mar 262013


Janice Lloyd, USA TODAY  March 25, 2013

Efforts to cut back long hours for medical residents may have the unintended consequence of leading to more errors, studies say.

A workplace regulation designed to limit hours worked by doctors in training to improve patient safety and enhance medical residents’ well-being has backfired and needs to be re-evaluated, according to two reports out today.

At the heart of both studies appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association is the length of time a young doctor is allowed to work without taking a break. A medical oversight board decreased that time from 30 hours to 16 in 2011 in part to “protect patients from errors made by sleepy doctors,” according to a study done at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Those researchers say the shorter shift has not improved young doctors’ depression rates or how long they sleep. Most concerning: Medical errors harming patients increased 15% to 20% among residents compared with residents who worked longer shifts.

“Teaching hospitals haven’t invested in providing extra help to shoulder any of the clinical work that has to be done,” says physician Elizabeth Wiley, president of the American Medical Student Association, who is not associated with the study. “It could be the interns are required to do the same amount of work in less time.”

Federal regulations, which oversee most workplace hours, do not apply to residency programs. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education sets the guidelines and has been revising them since 2003. The changes have “unintended consequences” and have been under scrutiny because there wasn’t good data to support them, according to Sanjay Desai, lead author of the other study and director of the internal medicine residency program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

The shorter shift, he says, has “many negative downsides,” including increasing the number of “handoff risks.” The number of times a patient’s care changes hands — handoffs — increases when shorter work schedules boost the size of the health care team.

“Handoffs and patient safety is a highly complex science,” he says.

Desai says the reduction in work hours also decreased training time.

Both reports found residents failed to increase the amount of sleep they get overall per week. Neither report investigated why, but Desai speculated that “young people might not try to get more sleep when given the chance,” and trying to do the same amount of work in a shorter time increases stress and shortens sleep.

In the Michigan study, the researchers sent out surveys to students entering 2009, 2010 and 2011 residency programs around the USA. Every three months, the residents were asked questions about mental health, overall well-being, sleep habits, work hours and performance on the job. A total of 2,323 interns at more than 14 teaching hospitals responded.

In addition to the increase in self-reported medical errors, 20% of the residents screened positive for depression.

“We need to keep evaluating schedules,” says Desai, adding that the study showed educational opportunities suffered on the 16-hour schedule and trainers and nurses alike said the 30-hour model provided a better quality of care.

via Studies: Residents make more errors on shorter shifts.

Mar 262013


The Daily Reflector

Dr. Tom Irons smiles gives the keynote speech during the State of the Young Child breakfast at the Hilton on Friday morning. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Reflector)

By Michael Abramowitz

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A child’s experiences during the first 2,000 days of life, have a lasting effect — for better or worse — on later health, learning and success, child development experts told a group of community leaders on Friday.

The challenges to engaging children during the early years of life and the consequences, negative and positive, of adult involvement in preparing children for life were discussed during a breakfast hosted by the United Way of Pitt County and the Martin-Pitt Partnership for Children.

Keynote speaker Dr. Tom Irons, a practicing pediatrician and professor at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, has spent his career helping poor and disenfranchised people in eastern North Carolina. He connected what he learned from his experiences caring for children here to his work with children in Africa ravaged by poverty and disease.

“It is important to provide children with opportunities and a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment at this critical time in their lives,” Irons said, “… so they are ready to be taught and have the best possible chance for a successful career in school and, ultimately, as a contributor to society.”

Irons said that children’s home and community environments are important contributors or detriments to successful development. Factors include nurturing, safety and security, adequate diet and rest, and positive stimulating communication between parents and other caregivers and children.

“To put it another way, the child that develops in a healthy environment has a brain that is hard-wired for success,” Irons said.

Conversely, children also can become “hard-wired” for failure, he said, when there is an absence of these needs and a poor physical environment, or when the parents just don’t know what to do or do not have the wherewithal to do it.

The bi-county partnership shared data about the challenges of poverty and developmental health faced by area children, particularly those who receive or qualify for public assistance. Sources included the N.C. Center for Health Statistics and both counties’ public health departments.

Thirty percent of children in both counties are born into families whose income is below the poverty level. Free and reduced-cost lunch is provided to about 60 percent of Pitt County students and to about 68 percent of Martin’s students.

There are 12,341 Pitt County infants and children enrolled in Medicaid and another 2,020 enrolled in Martin County. There are 1,127 more in Pitt County on a waiting list to receive a subsidy. In both counties, 8.5 percent of children younger than 18 have no health insurance.

In Pitt County, there is a 39 percent teen pregnancy rate. In Martin County , the rate is 35 percent, compared to a statewide rate of 30 percent.

I know the leaders of our community do not wish things to be the way they are for these families, and they don’t have to be (this way),” Irons said.

He told those who work toward improving conditions to be proud of their efforts and encouraged people to do more.

Irons’ message was followed by a panel discussion that included Abigail Jewkes, associate professor of child development and family relations at East Carolina University; Beverly Emory, Pitt County Schools superintendent; and Rep. Brian Brown, R-Pitt County. Jewkes said child development is not a race and class issue, but one that is important for all youth.

“It is important to understand that all parents want the best for their children,” she said. “They don’t always know how, and we must understand what their needs are.”

Emory said the most important initiative is for every child to leave second grade reading at or above second-grade level.

“If you visit a first- or second-grade class anywhere, you will see what people deal with every day to try and overcome those hard-wire issues Dr. Irons spoke about,” Emory said. “We see a three- or four-year gap in children who enter kindergarten, and we tell teachers to grow a child one year for every year they’re in school. But if you start four years behind and do that, when the child is in ninth grade, they’re still four years behind (despite remedial efforts). If we don’t teach them to read by third grade, the rest doesn’t really matter.”

Emory said the greatest obstacle to child development is poverty. She acknowledged the challenges state lawmakers face to find funding resources to combat early development issues, but also alluded to the Legislature’s rejection of federally funded Medicaid expansion that sends North Carolina income tax dollars to other states that chose to participate.

“If we take the resources we use right now to keep people out of prison and help them graduate and get a GED, and eat and find a job to feed their families, it would take all that money to frontload and serve all these thousands of children from birth to 5 years old,” Emory said. “We can’t take money away from this group right now and let them fail in order to program. We have a very short window of time in which we can close the gap.”

Pitt County Health Director Dr. John Morrow preceded the discussions with presentations of the inaugural First 2,000 Days Award for actions that improve children’s and families’ developmental and life experiences through support programs and the creation of a nurturing environment.

Recipients included Vidant Medical Center, representing an area business, and Mack Legget of Martin County, representing individual achievement.


Contact Michael Abramowitz at or 252-329-9571.

via The Daily Reflector.

Mar 262013


Published: March 25, 2013 Updated 6 hours ago

By Jane Stancill —

CHAPEL HILL — Landen Gambill, the UNC-Chapel Hill student who faces an honor court trial following her public allegations of being raped by a fellow student, has filed a federal complaint accusing the university of retaliation.

Gambill’s attorney, Henry Clay Turner, wrote a letter to UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp, saying the complaint had been filed Monday with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. That’s the same agency already investigating the university for its handling of sexual assault cases following a January complaint by Gambill and several other women. In a related matter, the university is being reviewed by federal officials for possible violations of the Clery Act, a federal law that requires campuses to disclose crime statistics.

Turner demanded that the university dismiss the case and said Gambill won’t participate in what he called the honor court’s “reckless prosecution.” Gambill was charged with an honor code violation for intimidating the man she says raped her, though she has not named him publicly.

“The retaliatory charges against my client are inappropriate, unconstitutional, and utterly without merit,” Turner wrote.

Gambill could face a range of sanctions from the honor court, up to and including expulsion.

The honor court has been run by students since 1875, and university officials have said they do not intervene to either bring or drop charges against students.

Turner disputed that, citing a clause in the code saying the chancellor has the ultimate responsibility for matters of student discipline, even though that is typically delegated to students and faculty.

Gambill has been outspoken during several rallies on campus, where she talked about her allegations of sexual assault having been mishandled by the university. Last year, the student she accused of rape was cleared in a judicial hearing before a panel of students, faculty and staff.

The attorney for the male student has said he has suffered from widespread media coverage of Gambill’s public remarks, and even though she has not named him, some people on campus know his identity. His educational experience has been jeopardized by the stressful situation, his attorney has said.

But in Monday’s letter to Thorp, Turner wrote that Gambill has a First Amendment right to speak about her experience as a survivor of sexual violence.

“Nor will she be deterred by the University’s recent troubling attempts to silence and discredit her by wrongly implying that Ms. Gambill’s allegations of sexual assault were untrue,” he wrote.

He cited a passage in a series of emails posted on the Orange Politics blog, between UNC-CH Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp and Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton. In the exchange, Crisp wrote, “I know of no circumstances where the good faith report of a rape would result in Honor Code Charges.” He was responding to Chilton, who had written a student attorney general, asking her to clarify whether reporting a rape would amount to a violation of the honor code.

“Mr. Crisp’s not-so-subtle, and profoundly inappropriate, implication was that Ms. Gambill’s allegations were false and made in bad faith,” Turner wrote.

Stancill: 919-829-4559

via CHAPEL HILL: Third complaint filed against UNC-Chapel Hill amid sexual assault controversy | Education |

Mar 262013



Published: March 25, 2013 Updated 12 hours ago

It appears that Hodding Carter III is channeling the late William Friday. Friday, a mentor to Carter, was the founding president of what is now the University of North Carolina system and a strong, respected leader and defender of the university system.

Responding to reports that Republican legislators are thinking about “downsizing” the UNC system, perhaps closing one or two campuses, Carter, a former assistant secretary of state and now a UNC-Chapel Hill professor, decided not to hold back. “These guys are intent on going to war against the public university system in this state,” he said. “Standing on the sidelines is not for anyone who cares about higher education.”

Indeed, Republican Sen. Pete Brunstetter of Winston-Salem believes downsizing ought to be an option. He and other GOP allies note that former system President Erskine Bowles once talked about it. But that was during a time of multibillion-dollar deficits, which is not now the case.

And even if one concedes that the UNC system might need some fine-tuning in terms of duplicate programs,this is not an issue to be brought up suddenly and then resolved in one legislative session.

Study and learn

Instead of pushing a bill through that cuts programs and perhaps even campuses, Republicans should appoint a blue-ribbon, bipartisan commission to study first whether consolidation is even a good and practical idea (there are serious questions about that) and how savings might be obtained without the drastic step of closing campuses.

The group would need two years to interview current and former UNC campus administrators, students, university officials from other states; call in some outside experts; and discuss extensively possible changes and, more importantly, the impact any changes might have on students.

Democratic Sen. Martin Nesbitt fears that won’t be the case. “The problem with (Republicans) and their approach,” he said, “is it’s never a dialogue. It’s a threat.”

There’s been evidence of that in this legislative session with issues such as Medicaid, unemployment compensation and the proposed changes in state boards and commissions. The consequences of these actions remain to be seen, but certainly people are going to be hurt by them and by the reckless hurry in which changes were made.

This is different

But the UNC system is a different animal. Each of the 17 campuses has thousands of alumni who are strong supporters and would be protective of their campuses.

Putting that consideration aside, though it would be risky for lawmakers not to consider it, the UNC system wasn’t constructed overnight with a bunch of people with Lincoln Logs. The campuses are first designed to serve the state by being all over the state, mountains to coast. And individual campuses have special missions within the goal of general education. UNC-Asheville provides a small-school, liberal arts education focused on teaching. UNC-Greensboro is strong in the arts, as is East Carolina. The UNC School of the Arts is all about film and stage. Almost every school has such a focus in at least one area.

The system, in other words, is not one-size-fits-all. Closing a campus, for example, wouldn’t necessarily send those students to another UNC school. Many might drop out, which would be a loss for them, their families and the state.

Not to mention that lawmakers haven’t even considered what they’d do with the academic buildings and dormitories, worth millions of dollars, if they closed the purpose for which they were intended.

The UNC system has its glitches from time to time, and some universities need to work harder on boosting enrollment. Yes, there may be duplication in courses that could be fixed. And the system might be able to consolidate purchasing and other related tasks in the name of efficiency. But overall, this is a model that has served the state well and provided higher education, and all the hopes that come with it, to hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians. Republicans must, for a change, approach this issue with caution lights on and in no hurry.

via Guard the jewel: Go slow on downsizing the UNC system | Editorials |

Mar 262013



Published: March 25, 2013 Updated 12 hours ago

Brad Wilson was the first in his family to get a college degree, from Appalachian State University in Boone, and he made something of it. Then there was law school at Wake Forest, then a career with former Gov. Jim Hunt, and currently a big job as president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Now, in hopes that other youngsters will have opportunities similar to his own, Wilson and his wife, Carole, also a Boone alum, are giving $3 million to ASU for a merit scholarship program.

The gift from the Raleigh couple represents the largest ever to the university from alumni.

Those who receive the scholarships will be encouraged to do public service along the way, and they’ll also do international study.

“We hope that those who will benefit from our commitment will be inspired to give of their time, talents and resources to enhance and perpetuate the Appalachian experience,” Brad Wilson said.

Wilson, who worked his way up to his current position by being accomplished in the public and private sector and is a past chairman of the University of North Carolina system Board of Governors, is a good personal example of how hard work can fulfill dreams.

A soft-spoken intellectual, Wilson does have a weakness for ASU sports: He was in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2007, sitting on the bench, when Appalachian’s football team beat the No. 5-ranked Michigan team.

That was a great day for the Mountaineers. Now the Wilsons have provided another one.

via Wilsons’ gift gives App State another big win | Editorials |

Mar 262013



Published: March 25, 2013

Alumni of elite colleges are accustomed to getting requests for money from their alma mater, but the appeal that Harvard sent to thousands of graduates on Monday was something new: a plea to donate their time and intellects to the rapidly expanding field of online education.

For the first time, Harvard has opened a humanities course, The Ancient Greek Hero, as a free online class. In an e-mail sent Monday, it asked alumni who had taken the course at the university to volunteer as online mentors and discussion group managers.

The new online course is based on Professor Gregory Nagy’s Concepts of the Ancient Greek Hero, a popular offering since the late 1970s that has been taken by some 10,000 students.

The online version, which began last week and will run through late June, has 27,000 students enrolled. Its syllabus includes Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey,” dialogues by Plato, poetry by Sappho and other works.

“I’m 70, and frankly, at my age, to reach more students in one course than I have in decades is astonishing, and I love it,” Dr. Nagy said.

One of the challenges of “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, is managing their sheer size, and encouraging thousands of students to engage each other, since they cannot all converse with the professor. Tapping into a deep pool of alumni offers at least a partial way around that problem, one that a few schools have discussed trying.

Claudia Filos, editor of content and social media for the course, said that in some MOOCs, discussions “tend to run off the rails.” The hope for the Greek heroes class is to have enough people monitoring — asking pointed questions, highlighting smart comments — to prevent that from happening.

About 10 of Dr. Nagy’s former teaching fellows in the class will direct discussions, with help from a larger, still-undetermined number of former students. Both groups will work unpaid; the e-mail to alumni said the work would require three to five hours a week.

About a dozen recent former students were recruited before Monday’s e-mail was sent, Ms. Filos said. Those who express interest will be screened, “and they have to be brought up to speed on the material,” she said.

In addition, Dr. Nagy said that about a dozen people, including Ms. Filos, were involved in creating the course, and that about 10 academics from Harvard and elsewhere will help review and rate some of the students’ work. Most of the assessments will be done by fellow students, an approach taken in many other MOOCs.

It has been just a year and a half since a Stanford professor offered the first MOOC, showing that the audience for such a class could be in the tens or hundreds of thousands. Since then, the field has expanded at a brisk pace.

Last year, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded edX, one of a handful of ventures offering online courses from prestigious universities. The University of California, Berkeley, joined edX a few months later, and several more colleges, including the University of Texas system and Georgetown, have said they will offer classes through it.

Most Harvard MOOCs have been in technical and scientific fields, with some in the social sciences. Starting with the Greek heroes course, the university will also offer an array of humanities classes.

EdX courses, like most MOOCs, are free and do not offer credit, but students can earn a certificate of completion.

via Harvard Asks Alumni to Donate Time to Free Online Course –

Mar 242013


By Katherine Ayers

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Quality and quantity.

That is how Liz Fogarty, the assistant chair of elementary and middle grades education in East Carolina University’s College of Education, described what the college does best: provide a quality education to about 700 newly-minted teachers each year.

“You could concentrate your efforts on a small number of students and get great results, yet somehow at ECU we’re able to do that with very large numbers of students,” Fogarty said. “We tend to have the most or second most initially licensed teachers in the state and yet the quality is very high.”

That may be because students start working in actual classrooms with the very first class they take, usually in their sophomore year after they have finished their general education classes.

As a sophomore and junior, students observe teachers in subjects like language arts, math and social studies, but also music, physical education and health.

As seniors, they spend one day a week in the fall and five days a week in the spring actually teaching lessons at their clinical school site. Eventually, a student must teach 15 consecutive days in their clinical classrooms.

Kristen Cuthrell, the associate chair of the Department of Elementary and Middle Grades Education at ECU, said people do not realize the strong relationships they have with public schools around the state who will take interns — who used to be called student teachers — and mentor them as they progress through their classes.

“We’re very lucky in Pitt County and all of Eastern North Carolina to have a strong clinical schools network,” said Kristen Cuthrell, the associate chair of the Department of Elementary and Middle Grades Education at ECU. “We have all the public schools who have agreed to partner with us to work to better East Carolina students by allowing them to come out and do practicums and internships.”

Both Fogarty and Cuthrell dispute the notion that anyone can be a teacher.

“That’s probably as ludicrous an idea as me thinking I can go an run a business,” Fogarty said. “My knowledge of business is limited, so if you were to put me in that field, I would flounder and fail miserably.

“The same is true of an untrained teacher,” she said. “Any time there’s a field where there is expertise that people have to gain, the more training, the better training they get, the better they will do.”

Cuthrell said there is evidence that ECU graduates will be successful.

“That’s our end game here,” she said. “We are here to help our pre-service candidates be better teachers in their future classrooms so their students can achieve.”

ECU’s program focuses on helping students learn to be flexible.

“We train them to teach children in the most developmentally appropriate ways using the most cutting edge technology,” Fogarty said. “And doing so in ways that would meet the expectations of our times, but also, in this age of accountability, scoring well on standardized tests.

“But we also know that 10 years from now there might be a different emphasis in education,” she said. “We want to teach our ECU students how to educate well in any age, regardless of what the current (fad) is.”

Contact Katherine Ayers at and 252-329-9567. Follow her on Twitter @KatieAyersGDR.

via The Daily Reflector.