Oct 222014


By Nathan Summers
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Suddenly, East Carolina is the team the rest of the American Athletic Conference doesn’t want to see next on the schedule, and guys like Montese Overton aren’t helping to soothe the Pirates’ fear factor much.

Although No. 18 ECU (5-1, 2-0 AAC) is built on the offense manned by senior quarterback Shane Carden, the ECU defense is beginning to instill some of the same kind of fear in opponents that helped drive the Pirates to consecutive Conference USA championships in the late 2000s. ECU’s unforgiving run defense and fierce front seven is getting championship caliber results once again.

“It starts with the D-line, but for us it’s great pad level when we come off the ball and great force,” said Overton, a junior outside linebacker who helps to lead the top-rated run defense in the American, which allows a mere 104.2 yards per game. “But we really ride our defensive line’s backs, and that’s how we stop the run.”

By erasing the run so quickly in games, the Pirates are forcing teams to go with their Plan B much sooner.

In the case of Thursday opponent Connecticut (1-5, 0-3), there has been little offense to offer so far, but if the Huskies are to have any hope against the Pirates, they will have to establish a ground game against Overton (first on the team with 5.5 tackles for loss and third with 36 total stops) and inside LBs Zeek Bigger (team-high 70 tackles) and Brandon Williams (49 tackles, five TFLs, 2.5 sacks).

Previous opponent South Florida tried to surprise ECU with a few long passes and UConn might follow a similar blueprint, but Overton said the way to beat an anything-goes mentality on offense is with basic, panic-free defense.

“We’ve all got to play our assignments and do our jobs, and if UConn comes out the first play of the game with a pass, the (defensive backs) have to know to stay back in coverage and know that we’ve got the run up front,” said Overton, who starred at South Central High School.

Quiet storm

Justin Hardy has never been one to beat his chest after big plays or even after one of his school-record 30 TD catches. The senior all-time ECU receiving leader also isn’t much for complaining when other Pirate pass-catchers steal the spotlight.

For the second time this season, Hardy (team-high 47 receptions, 593 yards and five TDs) had double-digit receptions for more than 100 yards without a TD against South Florida. And although he is comfortably on pace to become the first three-time 1,000-yard receiver in ECU history, Hardy remains squarely focused on wins and end results, and knows just how big his team’s comeback win over the Bulls was.

“All year long and all summer and all camp, our coaches talked to us about adversity and that at some point we’re going to face adversity and we’ve got to overcome it,” said Hardy, who had his first career three-TD game against SMU on Oct. 4. “It was real big (beating USF). As the season continues, we’re going to get everybody’s best shot so we’ve got to be prepared for that.”
Penalty polish

The ugliest thing about the USF game for ECU was its 12 penalties, of which more than half were personal fouls.

The Pirates focused a good deal on making that less of a hot topic during its second bye week, and the focus continued in the final days before Thursday’s game.

“Technique-wise, we’ve got to do some things different, and (the officials) are calling it a little different than they did last year,” ECU quarterback Shane Carden said. “There is an extra referee and we’ve got to understand that we can complain about it but they’re still going to call them. We’ve got to play better and play more disciplined.”

Oct 222014


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan is scheduled to make a campaign appearance at East Carolina University today.

The event begins at 10 a.m. and is being held in Great Room 3 at Mendenhall Student Center.

A news release said she’ll discuss the differences between her record and her Republican opponent Thom Tillis.

Later in the day she’ll be in Greensboro discussing “her record of protecting women’s access to basic, preventive health care and working to pass legislation to close the gender pay gap.”

Oct 222014


Posted: Oct 22, 2014
By: Heather King

Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri, will present “The Beauty of Service, Scholarship and Global Citizenship” in Mendenhall Student Center. The event at 6 p.m. is free and open to the public.

Nina Davuluri is the first Indian-American and second Asian-American to hold the Miss America title. She is from Syracuse, New York and traveled more than 186,000 miles around the world to speak on diversity and culture during her tenure with the crown.

“Diversity is a rich and endless source of experience, language, custom and tradition that enhances our nation and makes us unique,” Davuluri said.

Dr. Melissa Haithcox-Dennis, director of the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center, said she hoped that students would relate to Davuluri. “Her challenges being part of the pageant world as a woman of color and second-generation immigrant we hope will connect with our students as they plan for their future and prepare themselves for day-to-day challenges,” Haithcox-Dennis said.

Oct 222014


By Jay Price
October 21, 2014

WASHINGTON — A Superior Court judge gave N.C. State University trustee Ronald Prestage a 30-day suspended sentence Tuesday after the pork and poultry executive pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for trying to carry a loaded handgun into a congressional office building in July.

Prestage, 59, had faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Three days after he was arrested, though, a federal judge struck down the District of Columbia’s ban on concealed handguns. With the law in turmoil, prosecutors repeatedly postponed his case and then offered him a suspended sentence of 30 days, six months of unsupervised probation and no fine at all, which he accepted.

Prestage, who is president-elect to the National Pork Producers Council, was on a lobbying trip when he was arrested. He said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he hadn’t known that the gun was in his briefcase and that he was deeply sorry.

“It was just a costly mistake,” he said. “And the most painful part of it for me is the embarrassment that it has caused my family and North Carolina State, and the harm I’ve done to friends and family and colleagues because of me making that careless mistake.”

Security in airports and many public buildings has gotten tighter in recent years, and guns ever more common, leading to an increase in the number of gun owners being arrested after forgetting weapons they had packed away.

A congressional staff member who was arrested in a similar case just days before Prestage received an identical sentence.

Prestage is head of the South Carolina subsidiary of the Clinton-based pork and poultry producer Prestage Farms. He said that he sometimes carries a gun because much of his work takes him to isolated rural areas and that he has had his car and an aircraft tampered with, among other issues.

He said he is keenly aware of where concealed weapons are and are not allowed, and that his permits from South Carolina and Florida for carrying concealed handguns are recognized in reciprocal arrangements with the more than half a dozen states where his business has its operations.

“But I knew nobody has a permit that allows them to carry a gun in the District of Columbia, and I never would intentionally do that,” he said.

Prestage said that he had actually checked the bag, but the gun was a particularly small model designed for easy concealment and was in an ankle holster. Both were black, the inside of the case was black, and the gun had fallen under a divider, so he didn’t see it.

Prestage said he usually kept the gun in his pickup truck and said that he has spent “countless hours” since his arrest trying to figure out why he had put it in the soft-sided briefcase. He thinks it may have been to move it from the truck to the house while his wife used the truck.

He said that when a security X-ray machine operator found the gun, he immediately took responsibility and that he later waived his right to an attorney and answered every question that detectives asked.

The gravity of the situation really hit home, he said, when law enforcement officers took him outside. “When they walked me down the steps of the office building, there was a reporter who yelled, ‘Who did you intend to kill?’

“Well, I didn’t intend to hurt anybody, of course, and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, do people think I’m some sort of kook who intended to go in and start shooting the place up?’” he said. “Apparently so.”

Prestage said that even though the law was declared unconstitutional, he pleaded guilty to the charge anyway after prosecutors dropped the charge to a misdemeanor.

“Every month, they postponed the hearing date again, and I don’t know how long that was going to go on,” he said. “I needed to get it behind me.”

He said it was notable that he wasn’t fined, though he had forked over quite a bit in legal costs. And there was the toll of public humiliation.

“Oh, it was long way from free,” he said. “For one thing, it cost me three full months of no sleep.”

Oct 222014


By Dan Kane
October 21, 2014

Nearly two years ago, UNC-Chapel Hill trustees and the UNC Board of Governors listened to what was supposed to be the definitive report into the long-running academic scandal.

“The hard questions have been asked, and today we have the answers,” Chancellor Holden Thorp said before former Gov. Jim Martin stepped up to the lectern to deliver his report.

Martin’s 74-page report found that the no-show classes stretched back to the 1990s. But Martin didn’t review student transcripts or emails among the various parties connected to the fraud, nor did he have cooperation from the two people at its center.

On Wednesday, the two top panels governing the university will gather again. This time they will be hearing a report from a former top U.S. Justice Department official, Kenneth Wainstein. His team has gone where Martin hadn’t, and it has the cooperation of former African studies chairman Julius Nyang’oro and his longtime department manager Deborah Crowder.

After the meeting, Chancellor Carol Folt will spend much of the day reaching out to the university community. She will take questions at a news conference, conduct a town hall meeting with students, staff and faculty and finish the day with a video conference for members of the Board of Visitors and former trustees.

Aiding her is a high-powered public relations firm, Edelman, a Washington, D.C., group that has at least 14 people working to getting out the university’s message.

Spokesman Joel Curran said the firm began helping the university improve its communications in May. He couldn’t immediately say how much they are being paid.

He said the overall effort Wednesday reflects a “strong statement for how the university intends to behave and communicate.”

“It’s very important for people to understand that this is an important part of our DNA as Carolina,” Curran said. “That we’re open and we’re communicating.”

Schedule of events

Wednesday events surrounding the Wainstein report:

• 10:30 a.m.: UNC-CH’s Board of Trustees and the UNC Board of Governors will hear Kenneth Wainstein present the report. They have signaled much of the meeting, or at least portions of it, will be closed to the public.

• 1 p.m.: Wainstein, Chancellor Carol Folt and UNC system President Tom Ross will conduct a news conference at UNC’s Kenan Center. It will be broadcast live at carolinacommitment.unc.edu. The report will also be made available then at the same website.

• 5 p.m.: Folt will lead a town hall meeting of students, staff and faculty in G100 of the Genome Sciences Center.

• 6 p.m.: Folt will take questions from the Board of Visitors and former trustees in an invitation-only video webcast.

Oct 222014


By Douglas Belkin

Oct. 22, 2014

Visitors take a tour on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

At $201,000 a year, Harvard Law School alumni earn more than those of any other U.S. graduate school by the midpoint in their careers. Ashford University master’s graduates earn the least at that stage, and Loma Linda University graduates are the most confident they are making the world a better place.

The data come courtesy of the online salary-information company PayScale, which has asked 1.4 million people what they earn in return for finding out how they stack up against their peers. The site is designed to help employees negotiate a better salary.

The survey pulled data for more than 600 graduate schools, including only those for which there were enough respondents to make their answers statistically valid.

Among their findings: the midcareer median salary for seven of the top 10 graduate programs were law schools, but business schools produced eight out of the top 10 highest salaries for those less than five years past graduation. Eight of the top 17 programs that produced graduates with the highest midcareer salary were in California, many in and around Silicon Valley.

PayScale has been producing undergraduate salary reports since 2008, but this is the company’s first stab at a graduate-school survey.

The report comes at a time of questions about the return on investment of undergraduate degrees. The number of master’s degree programs have proliferated in large part because undergraduates are poorly prepared for the job market, said William Tierney, Director of the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California.

“It’s degree inflation. Everybody in a tight job market, especially young people, thinks that a master’s degree will put them one step ahead of the other guy,” said Mr. Tierney.

In addition “masters degrees are cash cows. They’re quick in, quick out, very little scholarship money, so you have to pay full freight. And they help support the undergraduate degree and the doctoral degree.”

Between 1995 and 2013, the percentage of Americans age 25 to 29 with a master’s degree increased to 7.4% from 4.5%, according to the Department of Education. That matches the percentage of Americans of the same age who held a bachelor’s degree in 1950.

Among business schools, Stanford beat out Harvard as the school producing the most well-paid graduates, with a median midcareer salary of $184,600.

The top 10 is rounded out by Wharton, Berkeley, Columbia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California, Los Angeles, Cornell, New York University, and University of Chicago, whose graduates earn $150,500. At the bottom of the ladder is Colorado Technical University online, whose graduates earn $70,000.

Among the top law schools ranked behind Harvard by salary were Emory, Santa Clara, UCLA, Pepperdine, Georgetown, Columbia, Fordham, Berkeley and University of Texas at Austin.

In 2012, law-school graduates averaged $138,000 in debt between law and undergraduate school, according to the Council of Graduate Schools. That amount increased 53% between 2004 and 2012.

A master’s degree in petroleum engineering paid $187,600 midcareer followed by nurse anesthetist; six of the next seven spots were a combination of computer, electrical, and chemical engineering.

Master’s degrees in human services, counseling and early childhood education were at the bottom of the list, midcareer graduates in those fields earned less than $50,000.

Along with salary data, PayScale asked respondents whether they thought their work made the world a better place. At Loma Linda University in California, which is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 91% of the graduates agreed or strongly agreed with that statement, 16 percentage points higher than the runner up.

“This is a core part of who we are, it’s not something we are trying to do,” said university spokesman Tony Yang. “I think most of the students who come here already have that mindset. We’re very grateful for the external validation.”

Oct 212014


By Jane Dail
October 21, 2014

Health care providers in eastern North Carolina gathered in Greenville on Monday afternoon to learn more about a new form of care that focuses on outcomes.

The Eastern Area Health Education Center and East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine teamed up to host a regional health care conference delving into how forming accountable care organizations (ACOs) could affect the quality of care and lives of patients. A similar meeting will take place today at Craven Community College in New Bern.

Al Delia, director of the Office of Health Access at Brody, said the event was for providers — mostly physicians — to introduce them to the new model of care.

Delia said ACOs are patient-focused and create a better coordination of among a continuum of providers. He gave the example of a general practitioner providing care and then referring them to an orthopedic surgeon, where they can share medical records.

“That better care coordination results in better health outcomes for the patient,” he said. “It actually costs the system less money because providers are doing this on an accountable basis.”

Dr. Aldona Wos, secretary for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said the current system charges a fee for service rather than focusing on outcomes.

“What we really need to pay and incentivize is value,” Wos said. “Are we getting the patient healthier? Because if you’re going to pay for outcomes for getting someone healthier, you’re actually on a very different path of what you’re rewarding for.”

Wos touted ACOs, saying after 20 months of research that having the patient-focused, provider-led and state-specific health care model is the best option.

“Anything we can do in North Carolina that’s built by us, manned by us and we’re responsible for and accountable for, we do really well in North Carolina for that,” she said.

Wos said Medicaid needs reform and is unsustainable, possibly compromising funding to education and public safety to fund it.

Delia said Monday’s meeting was not a reaction to the state’s refusal to accept federal Medicaid expansion dollars but to educate about the change in health care.

“There are accountable health care organizations across the country,” he said. “We have them and have had them in eastern North Carolina — in limited numbers — but have had them in the east and throughout the state for several years now before there was even a determination whether to accept the Medicaid funds for expansion.”

Counties may not be ready for Medicaid expansion because the process starts on the county level with social services, which already are overwhelmed, Wos said.

Wos said those who may not have Medicaid but may have been eligible through expansion are protected by a safety net, such as philanthropy.

“It’s not that North Carolina has nothing for people without Medicaid,” she said. “… You just don’t give someone a card and expect them to be healthier. You have to be able to absorb that population side of our health care system.”

Ken Wilkins, president of the ACO Coastal Carolina Quality Care based in New Bern, said he has seen fewer patients in hospitals and fewer emergency department visits, which in turn saves patients money. He said because of that, he is confident that patient experiences are better because of better access.

“Even if we don’t succeed in saving in a financial reward as an ACO, we’re going to benefit greatly from this experience by learning about changing from volume to value,” Wilkins said. “We’re convinced that’s the future.”

Wos said ACOs could help improve the health care industry in the state and also the health of patients.

“In the end, the only way we have to lower costs is by having healthier patients,” she said.

Oct 212014


October 19, 2014

RALEIGH — This health-care scenario is becoming all-too-familiar in North Carolina.

A statewide program starts with promises of significant cost savings and improved patient outcomes. It wins legislative bipartisan support for its potential.

It proves successfully in both missions through its rollout and early clinical operations.

Yet, despite those achievements, it faces withering on the vine financially as legislators ponder whether to continue funding in the next state budget.

The program caught in the potential budget cross hairs this time is the state’s telepsychiatry program, also known as NC STEP, that is providing services in 58 counties.

Telepsychiatry uses two-way audio and/or video as a rapid-response assessment option for people during a mental health or substance-abuse episode. Participation is required by a licensed hospital where the patient is being treated and a licensed psychiatrist or consultant at another site.

The assessment allows treatment to begin sooner in a community hospital’s emergency department, which typically would not have a psychiatrist either on staff or available around the clock.

The General Assembly approved in 2013 providing $4 million over two years toward the $4.63 million startup cost.

In June, the Duke Endowment approved an additional $1.5 million for the initiative. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services will get $800,000 this year and $700,000 in 2015 for its Office of Rural Health and Community Care.

According to Sy Saeed, director for Center for Telepsychiatry at East Carolina University, the program “is either ahead of schedule or on time with all of the legislatively defined timelines.” Saeed offered a presentation last week at a legislative oversight committee meeting.

Thirty-seven hospitals are participating statewide, including Clemmons, Forsyth and Kernersville medical centers in Forsyth, and 13 overall in the Triad and Northwest North Carolina.

There have been more than 6,000 telepsych evaluations since November 2013, and the median stay is 23 hours for a patient receiving care for a behavioral health issue in a hospital emergency department.

About 1,960 of those patients entered the emergency department through an involuntary commitment. About 25 percent, or 504, were discharged from the emergency department with the involuntary commitment withdrawn.

Law enforcement officers are required by state law to assist in managing behavioral health patients who are involuntarily committed within a hospital setting. Rural officers often have to stay, sometimes in shifts for several days, until patients are determined not to be at risk of harming themselves or others, or until they have been placed in an appropriate evaluation setting.

Despite the successes, Saeed expressed concern that legislators may not be willing to provide recurring funding, or even funding for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 budget years.

Saeed said the program is projected to save the state nearly $248,000 out of a $6.4 million budget for the current fiscal year. The budget is higher than projected for future years because much of the startup costs are occurring now.

Without state funding, the program projects a $1.31 million deficit in fiscal 2015-16. Without guarantee of a Duke Endowment grant for fiscal 2016-17, the deficit becomes $1.71 million.

Saeed said that for each $2 million in annual state expenditure, it could reap as much as $6.2 million in cost savings from fewer patient returns to the emergency department and lower patient-transport costs to sheriffs’ departments statewide.

Saeed asked the committee members if “40 percent of the people who purchase a product did not pay you anything, and another 40 percent paid you below your cost, can you sustain your business?”

Even with those cost-saving projections, committee members had tepid responses to the presentation and offered no collective firm pledge for future funding.

“The program allows behavioral health disciplines to work at the top of their licenses, preventing unnecessary costs,” DHHS officials said during their presentation. “It does not further exacerbate workforce shortages, and it helps to avoid duplication of services and ensure access to enhanced specialty mental health services.”

Saeed cautioned the legislators against trying to cut costs by privatizing the program or hiring out-of-state contractors to run its operations.

“While telepsychiatry makes it possible to transcend geographical boundaries and utilize workforce nationally, even globally, we’ll never be successful in resolving N.C. workforce shortages if our mental health workforce was located outside our geographical boundaries,” Saeed said.

He said the program can be used to extend behavioral health care into community-based settings, such as the walk-in clinic Novant Health Inc. operates at 175 Kimel Park Drive in Winston-Salem. The around-the-clock clinic has had an assessment average of 115 people a month since opening in June 2012.

DHHS said other options include community and rural health centers, local health departments and free clinics.

“The current program is not funded for seizing the opportunities to build capacity by creating collaborative linkages across continuums of care,” Saeed said.

Billy West, executive director of provider Daymark Recovery Services Inc., said the program is contributing to shorter stays in emergency departments “by having a psychiatrist beam in and treat and/or release the patient.” Daymark operates a walk-in clinic in Forsyth and Rockingham counties.

“Using psychiatrists within North Carolina is a plus because they know the resources if a release is considered, and they may also know what drugs to start knowing what resources may be in the community for the patient to continue them.”

“However, while this is good, I think we can do better. Why not have agencies focused on decreasing their no-show rates in communities for psychiatry, thus offering more access to psychiatry in the community instead of putting it in the ED?”

rcraver@wsjournal.com (336) 727-7376

Participating hospitals

These 13 hospitals in the Triad and Northwest North Carolina are participating in the state’s telepsychiatry program:

Alleghany Memorial, Ashe Medical Center, Blowing Rock, Clemmons Medical Center, Davie Medical Center, Forsyth Medical Center, Kernersville Medical Center, Lexington Medical Center, Morehead Memorial, Randolph Hospital, Stokes-Reynolds Memorial, Thomasville Medical Center and Wilkes Regional Medical Center

Source: N.C. Department of Health and Human Services