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