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East Carolina Heart Institute earns top rating

The East Carolina Heart Institute has received the highest quality rating awarded by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr.

Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr.

The society database is the national report card that compares the quality of cardiac surgery programs across the country. Historically, only 12-15 percent of hospitals receive the three-star rating, which is the highest quality category.

In the current analysis of national data – from Jan. 1, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2013 – the cardiac surgery performance at the institute rose to the highest quality tier, earning the three-star rating.

“When a surgeon or a doctor starts to discuss an operation, the three-star rating will give the patient some repose, satisfaction and solace that they are going to an institution that has high quality, great outcomes, and combined with our patient satisfaction rate at the heart institute, that they will have a good family and patient experience,” said Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood Jr., director of the East Carolina Heart Institute and professor of cardiovascular sciences at the Brody School of Medicine.

“We are all about quality. We are all about the highest level of outcomes. We are about patient satisfaction. We are about technology. We have it all here at this heart institute.”

In 2013, the heart institute ranked among the top 14 percent of Society of Thoracic Surgeions programs earning the three-star rating for coronary artery bypass procedures.

The overall bypass quality rating of three-stars measures top performance in four categories:  risk-adjusted mortality, risk-adjusted morbidity, use of the internal mammary arterial conduit and appropriate use of all medications that have been shown to improve long term survival. The risk adjusted mortality rate takes into account patient severity, because of underlying health conditions such as stroke, kidney failure, infection and prolonged time on a ventilator.

Additionally, the heart institute achieved a three-star rating for aortic value replacement, ranking them among only 3.2 percent of STS participating programs.

The East Carolina Heart Institute is the first in North Carolina devoted exclusively to improving the state’s health status through cardiovascular health service delivery, research and education. The institute is a partnership between Vidant Medical Center and East Carolina University, with facilities housed on both medical campuses.

Private practice physicians throughout the region are also an integral part of the heart institute.

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ECU alumna publishes story of life since paralysis

ThePromiseFriedmanThe ECU community is familiar with the tragic story of Rachelle Friedman of Raleigh, who was paralyzed from a swimming pool accident at a bachelorette party in 2010. She would never walk again but she never stopped moving forward.

She became a motivational speaker, an advocate for the disabled and an inspirational role model. Now she’s also an author. In “The Promise,” Friedman tells her story, beginning with the night her life changed.

She confirms, as has been reported, that the five girls at the bachelorette party “made an unspoken agreement to never reveal the name of the friend who had pushed Rachelle into the pool–and their bond has remained unbroken.”

A true love story, “The Promise” chronicles Rachelle’s relationship with Chris Chapman ’05 ’08, their struggle with her paralysis and rehab, the physical challenges of intimacy, and ultimately, their fairy-tale wedding.

Friedman recently was interviewed by Katie Couric and Oprah and discussed her book on NBC’s Today Show, HLN, ABC News, Reddit, and Huffington Post.

Friedman is scheduled to appear at a book signing on July 12 at Greenville’s Barnes & Noble.

“The Promise:

A Tragic Accident, a Paralyzed Bride, and the Power of Love, Loyalty, and Friendship”

Available from Amazon

211 pages

Hardcover, $18.60

Kindle, $9.99

- Steve Tuttle

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Ice cream social honors provost

maher

Derek Maher, associate professor in philosophy and religious studies, shares a laugh with Marilyn Sheerer during her ice cream social celebrating her service to the university since 1996 as professor, department chair, dean and provost.

The June 26 event allowed faculty and staff from across campus to hug Sheerer and wish her well in the next phase of her academic career. She steps down as provost Aug. 15.

One of those well-wishers was Rita Reaves, interim director of Office of Academic Program Planning and Development. “What she has done has helped us remember what’s important – the students who are here and the relationships we can establish to support them.”

(Photos by Cliff Hollis)

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ECU engineering student awarded SMART scholarship

An East Carolina University junior is one of approximately 150 engineering students nationwide to receive a prestigious scholarship.

Swink

Swink

Jacob Swink of Roanoke Rapids was awarded the Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarship by the American Society for Engineering Education and the U.S. Department of Defense. Approximately 1,900 applications were received.

The scholarship was established to support both undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It aims to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers who work in national defense laboratories, according to the scholarship website.

The scholarship will cover Swink’s full tuition and books through the completion of his engineering degree at ECU – an estimated value of more than $14,700. It also will pay for a graduate degree program should he choose to pursue one. The award includes a $35,000 stipend each year, as well as a summer internship and post-graduation employment with Fleet Readiness Center East, the engineering support group for marine and naval aircraft, at Marine Corps Air Station – Cherry Point.

Swink believes he was selected because of his relatively high GPA and summer work experience. He also is an Eagle Scout. “I was asked multiple questions about that, and the interviewers expressed what a great accomplishment that was,” he said.

Swink was accepted into multiple engineering programs but chose ECU because of its size. “My engineering classes have no more than 30 students in them, and I enjoy the attention the professor gives each student,” he said.

Swink is the son of David and Nina Swink. His mother has a master’s degree in math from ECU.

ECU’s engineering program, established 10 years ago, has 520 students enrolled and resides in the College of Engineering and Technology.

For more information about the SMART scholarship program, visit https://smart.asee.org/ or to learn more about the ECU engineering program, visit www.ecu.edu/cet/.

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ECU cardiologist elected to Royal College of Physicians

By Amy Adams Ellis
ECU News Services

East Carolina Heart Institute physician Ashesh Buch has been elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London. Buch was formally recognized for this achievement June 10 at a ceremony in London.

Dr. Ashesh Buch, interventional cardiologist at the East Carolina Heart Institute and assistant professor of cardiovascular sciences, Brody School of Medicine at ECU

Dr. Ashesh Buch, interventional cardiologist at the East Carolina Heart Institute and assistant professor of cardiovascular sciences, Brody School of Medicine at ECU

Fellowship is the highest level of membership in the college, which represents more than 29,000 physicians across the U.K. and the world. According to the organization’s website, it was founded nearly 500 years ago to ensure medicine is practiced to the highest standards.

“We will be relentless in our pursuit of improvements in health care and the health of the population,” their mission states. “We will achieve this by enhancing and harnessing the skills, knowledge and leadership of physicians in setting challenging standards and encouraging positive change based on sound evidence.”

Buch is an interventional cardiologist with ECHI, where he specializes in catheter-based treatments of structural heart diseases. ECHI is devoted to education, research, treatment and prevention of cardiovascular diseases in the region. The center is associated with East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Medical Center.

Buch joined the Brody School of Medicine and its group practice, ECU Physicians, in the fall of 2012 upon leaving his post at University Hospital of Wales, U.K.

He completed his medical degree at the University of Birmingham in the U.K., followed by a residency, and general cardiology and interventional fellowships, in the U.K. He completed further fellowship training in interventional cardiology at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, District of Columbia.

Dr. W. Randolph Chitwood, director of ECHI and professor of surgery at Brody, said, “It is a real honor that Dr. Buch has been elected as a fellow to the Royal College of Physicians in London. He is an outstanding cardiologist, as well as academician. This designation indicates that he has not only had the finest training in cardiology, but he excels well above most of his peers.

“It is a great accomplishment for Dr. Buch,” Chitwood added, “but it also gives East Carolina Heart Institute an advantage, as we want the finest doctors for our patients.

 

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