New state budget allows for new medical education building at ECU


GREENVILLE, N.C. — East Carolina University and the Brody School of Medicine can move forward on a new medical education building after Gov. Roy Cooper signed the state budget into law on Thursday.

Included in the state budget is funding for a new medical education building at ECU. The state budget provides $21.5 million in the fiscal year 2021-22 and $53.75 million in FY2022-23 from the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund for the planning and construction of a new medical education building with a total authorization of $215 million.

“This is a landmark moment for the future of rural health care and medical education in our state and region,” ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers said Thursday. “We are grateful to state leaders for investing in our bold and innovative mission to ensure access to quality culturally competent care through a seamless delivery system and a better quality of life for people in the East.”

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The state’s decision to fund a new medical education building for East Carolina University highlights the difference that the Brody School of Medicine makes across North Carolina.

“The impact this new facility will have on patient care, education, research and regional health is immeasurable,” said Dr. Michael Waldrum, dean of the Brody School of Medicine and CEO of Vidant Health. “The new classrooms, clinical space, labs, and technology will allow our faculty to build on the tradition of excellence at the Brody School of Medicine as we educate the next generation of North Carolina’s physicians to provide care in our region and across the state.”

The medical school was founded nearly 50 years ago to increase the supply of primary care physicians serving North Carolina, improve the health status of eastern North Carolina and enhance access of minority and disadvantaged students to medical education.

Brody consistently ranks No. 1 in North Carolina — and in the top 10% nationally — for graduating physicians who practice in-state, practice primary care, and practice in medically underserved areas. It also ranks in the top 10% nationally for graduating Black and Native American physicians.

“We appreciate the legislature and the governor recognizing that Brody is a significant contributor to the health care of the state, in particular the health care of people in the East, and a leader in the creation of a diverse health care workforce,” said Dr. Jason Higginson, executive dean of the Brody School of Medicine.

In addition to the funding for the new medical education building, the budget includes the following items specific to ECU: 

  • Rural Residency Program Support: Provides $2.95 million recurring to the Brody School of Medicine for the Rural Residency Program that places medical residents in a rural location for more than 50% of their training. This program promotes rural training by forming partnerships that have been shown to result in a high proportion of graduates choosing to provide care in shortage areas. This year, the program supports two medical residents in both Duplin and Hertford counties; these residents will spend the other portion of their training in Pitt County. By FY2025-26, 27 medical residents will be supported through this program in Duplin, Hertford, and Halifax counties.
  • Expansion of NC-STeP (North Carolina Statewide Telepsychiatry Program): Provides $1.5 million in one-time funds to the ECU Center for Telepsychiatry and e-Behavioral Health for the NC-STeP program to respond to COVID-19 by providing virtual psychiatric assessments and consultations to patients.
  • ECU Repairs and Renovations: Provides $82,535,134 for repairs and renovations on more than 45 proposed projects at the university.

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