Category Archives: ECU News

Symposium features health care quality improvement projects

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

Interprofessional collaboration and how innovative programs can improve the quality of health care and education were recurring themes at the second Quality Improvement Symposium, held March 2 at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU.

The annual event is part of the ECU Redesigning Education to Accelerate Change in Healthcare (REACH) program – an American Medical Association grant-funded initiative to transform medical school curriculum so it better prepares future physicians in patient safety and quality improvement in an environment of team-based, patient-centered care. The Brody School of Medicine was one of 11 schools nationwide chosen to participate in the initiative.

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Second-year Brody School of Medicine student Ismail Kassim gives a presentation during the second-annual Quality Improvement Symposium on March 2 at the East Carolina Heart Institute. (Photos by Gretchen Baugh)

This year’s symposium featured a keynote presentation by Dr. Jennifer Hepps, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and clinician at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Hepps walked the more than 100 symposium attendees through how her institution implemented a program to improve patient “handoffs” between shifts at the hospital.

But the day also showcased the quality improvement efforts of faculty, health care providers and students from across ECU’s Division of Health Sciences.

“Someone at my table (today) said ‘quality improvement is a team sport.’ And I really think that’s true,” Hepps said.

Dr. Heather Oxendine of the Brody’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine speaks with another symposium attendee about her poster presentation.

Dr. Heather Oxendine of the Brody’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine speaks with another symposium attendee about her poster presentation.

“The posters and presentations you see today are a good representation of what we do at REACH, which is interprofessional collaboration,” said Dr. Jason Higginson, director of neonatology in the Department of Pediatrics and leader of ECU’s Teachers of Quality Academy – another REACH initiative.

The following participants were recognized Wednesday for outstanding presentations:

  • Ismail Kassim, a second-year medical student, took first place for his podium presentation about reducing sepsis-related mortalities through implementing a multidisciplinary approach.
  • Danielle Walsh, an ECU pediatric surgeon, and Vidant Medical Center nurse Elaine Henry earned second place for their collaboration to improve patient outcomes via a robust surgical quality program.
  • Third place was awarded to Danielle McMullen, also a nurse at the medical center – which serves as the Brody School of Medicine’s affiliated teaching hospital – for her interest in improving the integrity of specimens coming from lab draws in the Emergency Department.

Awards were also given for outstanding posters – all of which were displayed in the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU lobby throughout the event. Recognized for their efforts were LaShawn McDuffie, a Vidant Medical Center nurse, Tim Barnes of the ECU Department of Radiation Oncology and Dr. Heather Oxendine of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.

Lorie Sigmon of ECU’s College of Nursing speaks with a symposium attendee at this year’s QI Symposium – part of an American Medical Association-funded program to shape the future of medical education.

Lorie Sigmon of ECU’s College of Nursing speaks with a symposium attendee at this year’s QI Symposium – part of an American Medical Association-funded program to shape the future of medical education.

More information about the ECU REACH program is available online at http://www.ecu.edu/reach.

 

College of Education launches partnership with Panasonic Foundation, four rural school districts

East Carolina University’s College of Education is celebrating a new partnership with the Panasonic Foundation and four eastern North Carolina school districts.

The Panasonic Foundation works nationwide with schools to break the link between race, poverty and educational outcomes by improving the academic and social success of students.

Scott Thompson, assistant executive director of the Panasonic Foundation

Scott Thompson, assistant executive director of the Panasonic Foundation (Photos by Jessica Nottingham for ECU News Services)

In a ceremony March 7, the foundation signed a memorandum of understanding with ECU and Duplin, Jones, Pender and Sampson county school districts. It’s the first time Panasonic will work in a rural setting with a university.

“We are really excited about this opportunity,” said Scott Thompson, assistant executive director of the Panasonic Foundation. “Our work has been almost entirely urban, and we recognize that rural districts serving children in poverty much like our urban districts have incredibly important work to do. They can be a lot more isolated and neglected in a certain sense to the philanthropic resources that are out there. This is an opportunity to bring folks together and learn from each other.”

Superintendents and school board members from each school district and representatives from the College of Education attended the ceremony held at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU.

“To the educational leaders in the room, I would like to recognize your work— it is incredibly important work,” Thompson said. “Thousands of eastern North Carolina students are represented here tonight. Their lives are going to be deeply influenced by what happens in their K-12 experience.”

Panasonic will fund one national coach (who also will work in districts across the country) and the ECU College of Education will fund one full-time teaching faculty member to work with the national coach and eastern North Carolina school districts.

Pender County education superintendent Terri Cobb and administrators with ECU’s Matt Militello and Art Rouse, and Panasonic Foundation assistant executive director Scott Thompson

Pender County education superintendent Terri Cobb and administrators with ECU’s Matt Militello and Art Rouse, and Panasonic Foundation assistant executive director Scott Thompson

COE faculty also will provide professional development based on the needs of the teachers in the school districts.

Last year, ECU began talks with Panasonic to build and add a rural consortium to their network. College of Education faculty members sought districts that fit the criteria and qualified as possible partners. In April, Panasonic’s executive director visited with ECU and in the school districts that were picked. Representatives from the school districts have met with ECU officials over the past 10 months to develop a plan of action.

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Matt Militello, Wells Fargo Distinguished Professor in Educational Leadership (contributed photo)

“These types of partnerships (schools, universities, and business foundations) are unique,” said Matt Militello, program coordinator and Wells Fargo Endowed Chair of Educational Leadership at ECU. “We are happy to be on the cutting edge of changing the paradigms and models that will ultimately support district needs in order to improve student achievement.”

McCrory: Connect NC ‘extremely important’

Governor Pat McCrory visited ECU on Monday to discuss the Connect NC bond act, which goes before voters on March 15. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

N.C. Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry joined Governor Pat McCrory as he visited ECU on Monday to discuss the Connect NC bond act, which goes before voters on March 15. Also speaking at the event were Chancellor Steve Ballard and Pitt Community College President Dennis Massey. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

Gov. Pat McCrory stopped at East Carolina University on Monday to tout the $2 billion Connect NC bond act, saying its proceeds are vital to educating workers for the future.

The bond would provide $90 million to build a new biotechnology and life sciences building at ECU if voters approve it next week when they go to the polls for the state’s primary races.

“The most important election on March 15 is not the presidential election or the primaries,” said McCrory, who himself faces two primary opponents. “These bonds are extremely important to North Carolina.”

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In addition to the money ECU would receive, the 16 other University of North Carolina institutions, the state’s community colleges, state parks – nine of which are in eastern North Carolina – and the N.C. Zoo, the National Guard and local water and sewer projects would also receive funding from the bond. Officials have said the bond would not require a tax increase.

“It is budgeted, it is paid for, it will require no new tax increase,” McCrory said. “In five years, debt will be less than today.

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“I don’t see their alternative plan,” he added, referring to critics who oppose the bond. “If we wait, the cost will be greater for taxpayers in the future.”

Others who spoke in favor of the bond were ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard, Pitt Community College President Dennis Massey and N.C. Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry.

Ballard pointed to the enrollment growth at ECU since the Howell Science Complex opened in 1969. The proposed life sciences and biotechnology building would replace Howell, which was built when enrollment totaled 9,000. Today, it exceeds 28,000, with thousands of students taking biology-related courses and labs, Ballard said.

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The new building would be the home of the biology department, the Pharmaceutical Development and Manufacturing Center of Excellence and the biomedical/bioprocess engineering department.

Biomedical and bioprocess engineers earn a median income of nearly $87,000 a year, and job growth is predicted to climb 27 percent by 2022, Ballard said.

Massey pointed to the earnings gap that exists across North Carolina and the need to educate students in the field of advanced manufacturing, an area where the community college cooperates with ECU.

“Without this, we’re going to be much worse off as a state,” Massey said. “We need this to move forward.”

 

ECU Pirates urged to step outside in nationwide challenge

East Carolina University is asking all Pirates to step outside and get active through the 2015 Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge competition under way through Oct. 17. The university is competing against 58 other institutions representing 30 states.

Grants up to $1,500 will be applied toward outdoor activities on campus, and individual participant prizes are available. Grants are tied to the number of active participants who log their activities and identify ECU as their institution. For 500 participants, ECU will receive $500. If 1,000 Pirates join in, the grant increases to $1,000. For 1,500 active participants, the grant goes up to $1,500.

Participants may sign up and log in at www.oncampuschallenge.org (select East Carolina University).

Points may be earned for a wide variety of outdoor activities including walking, Frisbee golf, fishing and biking, enjoying a hammock, fishing, gardening, hunting, hiking, backpacking, running or jogging, water activities, outdoor yoga, horseshoes, bird watching and stargazing.

Organized team sports like basketball, soccer and football don’t count in the challenge. Activities must be for a minimum of 30 minutes and take place between Sept. 6 and Oct. 17.

For additional information, contact Mark Parker, assistant director for Intramural Sports and Youth & Family at (252) 328-1575 or parkerma@ecu.edu.

J.H. Rose High, Tar River Writing Project awarded $20,000 grant

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J.H. Rose High School teachers Robert Puckett, left, and Scott Wagoner, right, work with Rose students to plan the 3D printing/ prototyping fabrication lab maker space. Contributed photo.

Students and teachers from J.H. Rose High School in Greenville were on ECU’s campus June 15-19 working with staff from the Tar River Writing Project developing plans to implement an idea that earned them a national grant.

The Tar River Writing Project, housed at ECU in the University Writing Program, and Rose High School were one of one of 14 groups in the nation awarded a $20,000 LRNG Innovation Challenge Grant.

During the week, 11 teachers worked with 15 Rose students designing six maker spaces that will operate during Rose’s 80-minute SMART Block period. Maker spaces, sometimes called hackspaces and fablabs, are communities for people to create, invent, learn and share projects.

The maker spaces at Rose will focus on fashion design, robotics/programming, upcycling/repurposing objects, beat making, digital storytelling/media making, and a 3-D/prototype fabrication lab.

Students will be able to visit and explore in these maker spaces during the school’s SMART Block, which allows students to attend academic sessions with teachers or participate in extracurricular activities. Once students find something that they are interested in, they can pick up and follow interest-driven educational pathways, said Stephanie West-Puckett, Tar River Writing Project associate director and a member of the ECU Department of English faculty.

“This grant gives us an opportunity to design innovative educational spaces together that bridge curricular and extracurricular learning,” she said.

During the weeklong event, the educators from ECU and Rose High designed a curriculum with low barriers for easy access and high ceilings for developing mastery. Each maker space will also have a service project so that students and faculty can use the concepts and tools to benefit others in need, West-Puckett said.

“Pop-up maker stations are at the core of what SMART Block should offer students,” said Monica Jacobson, principal at J.H. Rose. “With the stations, Rose students will be afforded time and access to resources that connect and extend their knowledge. Students will be provided with opportunities to build relationships with their peers, teachers, and community partners that share similar interests while they explore beyond the classroom.”

Educators presented the ideas on the last day of the event to school administrators, community members and parents for their feedback.

Will Banks, director of the University Writing Program and of the Tar River Writing Project, noted, “It’s rare that teachers, students, and community members get to work together to find shared interests and passions—and to remember that passion, not test scores, motivates learning.”

The LRNG Innovation Challenge is a new initiative that invests in forward-looking schools and teachers to design innovative projects that take advantage of new technology to support students’ creativity. It is sponsored in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation and John Legend’s Show Me Campaign.

West-Puckett said musician John Legend wants high school students – with projects like the ones funded by the grants – to be able to pursue their interests, especially in the arts, which may not fit into a traditional curriculum approach.

Rob Puckett, a Rose printing and graphics instructor, is working to develop a 3-D printing & prototyping maker space. “While 3-D printing trinkets and toys is neat, we want to demonstrate how these tools can make a real difference in people’s lives,” he said. “Each semester, we’ll work together on printing a custom-made prosthetic hand with free, open-source plans.”

Fellow Rose teacher Lynn Cox, who is collaborating on a maker space for robotics and computer programming, said, “It was great to have the students here with us and see how eager they are for these kinds of opportunities in school.”

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J.H. Rose High School students and teachers work in groups during a weeklong event in ECU’s Joyner Library to make a pop-up “fabric hacking” maker space. Rose High and the Tar River Writing Project earned a national grant to develop maker spaces and a corresponding curriculum. Contributed photo.

 

Eastern AHEC breaks ground on new building

An artist’s rendering shows the new building that will house the Eastern Area Health Education Center. (Photo by Steve Tuttle)

An artist’s rendering shows the new building that will house the Eastern Area Health Education Center. (Photo by Steve Tuttle)

The Eastern Area Health Education Center (AHEC) broke ground at 8 a.m. April 30 on a new building in Greenville that will also become the new home of East Carolina University’s Office of Clinical Skills Assessment and Education.

The 36,400-square-foot facility will feature the latest technology to improve the learning environment for the Office of Clinical Skills and the many other educational programs that Eastern AHEC operates, according to Executive Director Dr. Lorrie Basnight.

Clinical Skills now operates out of a mobile unit on the Health Sciences Campus. Clinical Skills uses standardized patients and physical training assistants to assist in the training of health sciences students. Health sciences students learn the physical exam, communication skills and interpersonal skills at Clinical Skills.

Clinical Skills will occupy the second floor of the three-story building, amounting to 10,700 square feet of space, officials said. At its March 24 meeting, the ECU Board of Trustees agreed to lease the space for $203,300 annually for a five-year term with options to renew the lease.

The new building at the corner of Arlington Boulevard and West Fifth Street will replace space that Eastern AHEC now leases on Venture Tower Drive.

“Having both AHEC and Clinical Skills in the same building will provide an opportunity for new types of learning,” Basnight said.

“This will enhance the ability of Eastern AHEC to continue to improve the health and workforce needs in our region,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the ECU College of Nursing.

Brown said ECU also would use the new facility for several health-related conferences.

Basnight said a big plus of the new facility will be its accessibility.

“We have people from all over the region who come here for our conferences or for training, and it’s often difficult for them to navigate through the medical campus area and find a place to park. Now it will be so much easier to find us, get parked and get to your meeting quickly,” she said.

Eastern AHEC provides grants to support programs at clinical sites used by ECU’s medical, nursing, dental and allied health students. One such site is the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center.

In 2014, Eastern AHEC and two other regional centers established subsidized housing sites for ECU dental students working in community service learning centers across the state.

Eastern AHEC, which serves 23 counties in eastern North Carolina, is one of nine regional centers that focus on the health care needs of the state’s underserved populations. Its mission is to provide educational programs and services that bridge academic institutions and communities to improve public health.
Basnight said the new facility, including land and furnishings, is expected to cost around $11 million. She said the center has been putting aside savings from its ongoing operations for the past several years to pay for the new facility.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2016. C.A. Lewis is the general contractor.

– Steve Tuttle

Author Jayne Anne Phillips to read from new work Thursday

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Author Jayne Anne Phillips will read from her new novel “Quiet Dell” at the Greenville Museum of Art at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The reading is part of the East Carolina University Contemporary Writers Series and is free and open to the public.

Stephen King has said, “In a brilliant fusion of fact and fiction, Jayne Anne Phillips has written the novel of the year. It’s the story of a serial killer’s crimes and capture, yes, but it’s also a compulsively readable story of how one brave woman faces up to acts of terrible violence in order to create something good and strong in the aftermath. ‘Quiet Dell’ will be compared to ‘In Cold Blood,’ but Phillips offers something Capote could not: a heroine who lights up the dark places and gives us hope in our humanity.”

Phillips’ novels address the social and historical tensions that challenge American families, including such subjects as war and domestic violence. Her debut novel “Machine Dreams” (1984) chronicles a family from the Depression to the Vietnam War, and their story is revealed through the thoughts and memories of each family member. Her fourth novel, “Lark and Termite,” was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2009.

Phillips is the director of the master of fine arts program at Rutgers University-Newark. She previously taught at Harvard University, Williams College and Boston University.

The Contemporary Writers Services is housed in the ECU Department of English, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.

For more information, contact Thomas Douglass, Contemporary Writers Series committee member and associate professor of English, at 252-328-6723 or douglasst@ecu.edu.

Pirate statue returned

Kevin Sugg, left, and Theddrick Moye, with ECU grounds moving services unload the recovered pirate statue from a truck Monday morning. They unloaded the statue at facilities services grounds complex near the Belk Building.  (Photo by  Cliff Hollis)

Kevin Sugg, left, and Theddrick Moye, with ECU grounds moving services unload the recovered pirate statue from a truck Monday morning. They unloaded the statue at facilities services grounds complex near the Belk Building.  (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

 

The iconic ECU pirate statue that stands on the campus mall has been recovered. The statue was reported missing early Sunday, April 27, and it was located early Monday, April 28 in the Bradford Creek soccer fields area.

ECU Police received a tip that someone had spotted it in that location, said Lt. Chris Sutton.

The investigation into the statue’s disappearance continues, Sutton said, and police ask for the public’s continued help as they seek to identify the person or persons responsible.

“The Pirate was recovered but is currently unavailable because he is being checked out,” Sutton said. “At the appropriate time he will be returned to his familiar place on campus.”

A preliminary examination by facilities workers showed the statue appeared to be in good shape, with only minor damage reported.

Anyone who might have information about the Pirate’s disappearance is asked to call the ECU Police tip line at 252-328-6787.

ECU community mourns loss of instructor

By Kathryn Kennedy and Jeannine Manning Hutson
ECU News Services

Co-workers and students of East Carolina University teaching instructor Debbie O’Neal are grieving this week following her death March 31.

She and her husband – both rated pilots – were killed when their fixed-wing Lancair LC-42 aircraft crashed in a Winston-Salem residential neighborhood after experiencing engine trouble, a National Traffic Safety Board official told media on Monday.

Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 3 at Rock Springs Center, 4025 N.C. Highway 43 N, Greenville.

An additional memorial service was held Tuesday, April 2 at the Washington Eye Center, where her husband, Dennis, worked.

O’Neal came to ECU in 2004, and this semester she was teaching three sections of English composition in the classroom and two distance-education sections of English grammar.

Department of English Chair Jeffrey Johnson spent Tuesday meeting with students in O’Neal’s classes, accompanied by staff from the ECU counseling center. He said the students were “taking it hard,” and many asked if they could reach out to her family.

“Her students know how invested she was in them,” Johnson said. “She was really outgoing, full of energy and ideas, generous with her time. All these qualities of hers…make (the loss) even harder.”

O’Neal was very involved in the ECU Language Academy, which provides intensive English-language instruction to international students and professionals. She also worked with the College of Education by developing ways to integrate English as a second language (ESL) teacher education into existing curriculum.

Marjorie Ringler, associate professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership, said she and O’Neal worked closely for years. “We were inseparable at work and as friends as well,” Ringler said Tuesday.

O’Neal was a linguist and Ringler works on partnerships with principals and school districts; together they were a great team, Ringler said. The pair recently attended an international conference in Dallas, presenting their success in teaching English as a second language in a rural eastern North Carolina school.

O’Neal engaged her classroom students as well, Ringler said, and held them to high standards.

“In the Department of English, she saw her students as her kids,” Ringler continued. “She was a mother to them because (she taught) the freshman composition class.”

She added that O’Neal kept in touch with many students and would get Facebook and email messages about how she had changed their lives. “She made sure everybody knew that she cared,” Ringler said.

“She lived life to the fullest. She was a pilot, made her own jewelry, and was always in touch with her three kids. She skied as well. What did she not do? And she tackled everything head on.”

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