ECU, ECU Health highlight innovative rural health education, research and patient care

Beginning in 2010, organizations across the United States have reserved the third Thursday in November to celebrate National Rural Health Day and highlight unique challenges residents of rural communities face in receiving high-quality health care.

The importance of this issue, however, is not something East Carolina University and ECU Health only recognize once a year. It is the fabric of their shared mission to improve the health and well-being of all North Carolinians — from the mountains to the coast — but especially for the 1.4 million residents of the largely rural and underserved communities of the East.

This commitment is evident from the allied health students who wake up at sunrise to bring healthy food options to diabetes patients in coastal communities, to the dental students who finish their daily rotations in an ECU community service learning center in Spruce Pine as the sun sets behind the nearby mountains. And from the nursing students working with rural Alzheimer’s disease patients, to physicians and researchers partnering to find ways to address the high levels of hypertension in rural areas.

At every minute of every day, representatives from East Carolina University and ECU Health are caring for patients from rural and underserved communities, pioneering research to address the unique health challenges facing these populations and training the next generation of highly skilled health care professionals to do the same.

“Among the best things we do as a university is to uphold the promises made to the people of North Carolina. Part of that commitment is to transform health care in rural and underserved areas across our state,” ECU Chancellor Dr. Philip Rogers said. “East Carolina University and ECU Health are leading the way in addressing the complexities of rural health head on, through education, research, patient care, partnerships and innovation. We are not only educating health care professionals for North Carolina — we are preparing graduates who create solutions and put them into action.”

Below are four stories that highlight just some examples of how ECU and ECU Health are working together to improve rural health care in the East and beyond, through innovative education, research and patient care.