By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services
Dr. Paul Cunningham, dean of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, was one of four health care professionals to present Monday, May 19 during the Vidant 2014 Health Care Conference.
The conference encouraged leaders from across the community to “join the conversation” about improving health care for the county and region. Other speakers were Dr. Sanne Magnan, CEO of the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement; Mark Benton, COO for Community Care of North Carolina; and Vidant Health CEO Dr. Dave Herman.
Cunningham’s talk focused on the health challenges facing the region and how Brody is building partnerships to sustain operations and better serve the population of eastern North Carolina.
“The mission has not changed but our form must change,” he said. “We must focus on the future in a meaningful way. More and new partnerships are needed.”
Those include both partnerships across the health sciences at ECU, he added, as well as with leaders in all sectors of the community.
Eastern North Carolina still faces many challenges to improving access to health care, Cunningham said. Poverty persists in much of the region – particularly in rural areas – and individuals can be isolated, hard to reach and may be distrustful of health care providers.
There are about 12 chronic diseases that plague the region, he said. Those include obesity, diabetes, STDs, hypertension, asthma and cancer. More than 32 percent of the population is obese, he added.
“If we were expert at just this list alone, we could improve the health outcomes of eastern North Carolina,” Cunningham told attendees.
Brody continues to meet its mission to produce doctors who will work in primary care, he reported. And by keeping the cost of attending the medical school at ECU relatively low, students graduating from Brody can begin careers in primary care without “dealing with a mountain of debt.”
At the end of the individual presentations, Cunningham and Herman fielded questions from attendees.
View Cunningham’s entire presentation here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXpnD0mcJjQ&feature=youtu.be.